From: Exit Staff
Vucic Abruptly Calls Off ‘Open Balkan’ Summit amid Tensions at Serbia-Kosovo Border

The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic will not attend a summit with the leaders of Albania and North Macedonia scheduled for Wednesday in Novi Sad. The summit would have marked the 2-year anniversary of their ‘Open Balkan’ initiative.

Vucic’s office announced he would not participate for health reasons. They also cancelled his speech at the conference “Western Balkans, one region, one market – a step towards the common EU market” in Novi Sad.

A video conference will be held instead, with the participation of Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.

It remains unclear if and who will represent Albania and North Macedonia, the other two initiators of the “Open Balkan”.

Brnabic explained on Wednesday that exhaustion and sleeplessness due to the situation at the border with Kosovo had compromised Vucic’s immunity, resulting in him getting the flu, Serbian newspaper Danas reported.

Two days ago, Vucic told Pink TV that he couldn’t sleep because he was very worried about Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo police forces overseeing the implementation of tax on Serbian-licensed number plates.

The summit cancellation comes at a time when Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama strongly supported the ‘Open Balkan’ initiative during a visit to Kosovo on Monday, despite Serbia’s military threats against its neighboring country. 

The initiative, launched by Vucic, Rama and Macedoniam prime minister Zoran Zaev, aims at creating a common regional area of free movement and trade. Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro have refused to join. 

Rama maintained that Serbia’s military threats against Kosovo only point at the necessity for the ‘Open Balkan’.

Vucic deployed armored vehicles to the border with Kosovo, ordered fighter jets to fly near the border, and gave an ultimatum to NATO, after Kosovo started to implement a 5-euro tax on Serbian cars entering the country. Serbia has been implementing the same tax on Kosovo cars for 10 years.

Vucic told the media in Serbia last week that he had rejected several proposals for a solution by the ambassador of the EU and US, and had demanded the unconditional withdrawal of Kosovo special police from its own territory.

The Kosovo government said they were willing to drop the tax and sit in talks, if Serbia reciprocates. 

The negotiating teams of both countries are meeting in Brussels today.

The second anniversary of the ‘Open Balkan’ initiative comes with a legacy consisting only of repeated calls for Bosnia, Kosovo, and Montenegro to join, followed by repeated refusals.

Serbia’s latest actions have raised tensions in the Western Balkans, with the three non-member countries expressing serious concerns over peace and stability in the region.