22nd Oct 2020

Serbia boycotts Obama meeting over Kosovo

Serbian President Boris Tadic will not join regional leaders in Warsaw in a meeting with US President Barack Obama, due to the fact that the Kosovo head of state was invited as well. Slovak and Romanian leaders have also indicated they may not go.

"President Tadic will not attend the Warsaw summit because Kosovo is represented symmetrically with other participants," a spokeswoman for the president said on Tuesday (24 May). A central and southeastern European summit in Warsaw is scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday and have Obama meet some 20 leaders from the region, including Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga.

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  • Obama's Europe trip ends with a stop in Warsaw (Photo: White House)

Serbia, which has not recognised the independence of its former province, regularly boycotts meetings where Kosovo officials are invited and the protocol allows for state symbols and titles to be displayed.

Slovakia and Romania - both home to large Hungarian ethnic minorities - have also so far refused to recognise Kosovo and have indicated to the Polish organisers that their presidents may not go if the protocol rules are not changed so that state symbols are no longer displayed.

"We didn't want to confirm an independence of a state, even in an indirect way, which we have not recognised," Slovak presidential spokesman Marek Trubac said.

According to Polish presidential advisor Roman Kuzniar, his administration only learnt on Tuesday that "some countries have a problem with recognising Kosovo."

He indicated, however, that the two EU leaders may still change their mind, but not the Serbian president whose decision Warsaw "respects".

Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski meanwhile urged Serbia to "show it has overcome its past demons".

"Kosovo, so far I'm aware, is currently recognized by 75 countries, including Poland and most EU members. So there's no reason not to invite Kosovo's representative," he said.

The Warsaw summit marks the end of Obama's four-day visit in Europe, after stopping in Ireland, Britain and France for the G8 summit in Deauville.

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