Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has claimed that Kosovo’s request for accelerated NATO membership is an idea of EU and US lobbyists aimed at pressuring NATO members who do not recognize Kosovo to do so.
“It is not the Kosovo Albanians’ idea, it is their lobbyists’ in the EU and the USA,” he said.
The recognition by Slovakia, Romania, Greece, and Spain would result in extreme pressure on Serbia to recognize Kosovo, he added.
Vucic has repeatedly vowed that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo despite an ongoing dialogue since 2011.
“Regardless of all pressures and blackmail, no matter what anyone thinks, Serbia will preserve its territorial integrity,” he stated.
On Sunday, Kosovo Minister of Defense Armend Mehaj asked for accelerated membership into NATO and a permanent US military base in its territory after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The United States has a military base in Kosovo at Camp Bondsteel, which is under the command of the NATO Mission in Kosovo (KFOR). The base is under a 99-year lease. Furthermore, the US has already stationed some 635 soldiers in the country.
In addition, Mehaj called for countries who haven’t yet done so, to recognize Kosovo’s independence which is currently recognized by 97 of the UN’s 193 members.
On 25 February, Kosovo joined the European Union in imposing sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Kosovo leadership has also raised the alarm that the crisis in Ukraine may spread to the Western Balkans through Serbia, Russia’s main ally in the region.
Together with Belarus, Serbia is the only country in Europe refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or impose sanctions, despite expectations as an EU candidate state to align its foreign policy to that of the union.