Serbia Withdraws Ambassador from Montenegro, Cites Kosovo

Serbia’s foreign minister Vuk Jeremic has ordered the immediate withdrawal of Serbia’s ambassador in Podgorica following Montenegro’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

Jeremic asked the ambassador to return to Belgrade for consultations.

After much discussion about when the right time is to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo, Montenegro’s government announced on Friday that its foreign mnister Milan Rocen has exchanged letters with his Kosovo counterpart Skeneder Hyseni, signalling the establishment of diplomatic links between the two countries.

The new relationship ”will contribute to better mutual trust and traditional respect, which has been fostered by our friendly nations for the sake of the common good, stronger regional stability and a speedier progress in reaching our (joint) European and Euro-Atlantic goals,” Rocen’s letter reads.

The decision was reportedly made at a meeting of state officials on Wednesday, which was attended by Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, Parliamentary Speaker Ranko Krivokapic, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and Foreign Minister Milan Rocen.

Montenegro’s top officials earlier disagreed on the timing of when the country should establish diplomatic links with Kosovo, with some arguing that a swift exchange of ambassadors may hinder Podgorica’s relations with Serbia.

Djukanovic and Rocen believed that there is no point in waiting any longer while Vujanovic and Deputy Prime Minister Svetozar Marovic advocated waiting for the opinion of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, on whether Kosovo’s decision to declare independence went against international law.

Montenegro recognised Kosovo’s independence on 9 October, 2008, one day after the UN General Assembly accepted Serbia’s draft resolution to place the case of Kosovo’s unilaterally proclaimed independence to the ICJ.

Earlier, Serbia has requested Montenegro to postpone the establishment of diplomatic relations with Kosovo for a few months – until the ICJ comes to a conclusion.

According to the daily Vijesti, establishing diplomatic relations doesn’t mean that an ambassador will be sent to Pristina automatically. “The exchange of diplomatic staff will not occur until the question of the position of the Montenegrin national minority in Kosovo is resolved,” the newspaper stated, citing the content of Podgorica’s letter to Pristina.

Rocen also said in his letter that once the issue of the Montenegrin minority in Kosovo is resolved, then preparations for an exchange of diplomatic staff will begin.

Hyseni confirmed that he received a letter from Rocen stressing that the period for establishing diplomatic links between the two countries has been extended due to the sensitivity of the process. “We should always bear in mind the circumstances and context in which processes are developed. We also need to have understanding for sensitive relations which a country has with third countries,” the Kosovo minister said.

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