Slovenia President Backs Predecessor as New Kosovo-Serbia Envoy

The President of Slovenia, Natasa Pirc Musar, told BIRN in an interview that her predecessor as president, Borut Pahor, is the right candidate to replace the outgoing EU special envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.

“I am supporting him,” Pirc Musar said, adding that her country has often mistakenly not supported Slovenians for high positions in international organisations, and Pahor would be “a good candidate. His political experience of 17 years in the highest positions in my republic shows he is capable of holding such a position”.

“Slovenia is an ideal candidate for that [role], knowing the region, we know the mentality, the culture, because of the roots from the past and I can assure you that Slovenia never has a hidden agenda. That is our added value,” Pirc Musar said.

She said the fact that two top EU positions were held by two officials from countries not recognizing Kosovo – Lajcak from Slovakia and High Representative Josep Borrell from Spain “were in a way obstacles”.

Two weeks ago, Borrell nominated Lajcak for the top EU diplomatic job in Switzerland, pending confirmation.

Pirc Musar also told BIRN that she had received a letter from Serbia asking Slovenia to vote against Kosovo’s membership to the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, just before its parliamentary assembly, the PACE, voted on April 16 to recommend membership for Kosovo.

PACE voted 131 to 29 in favour of Kosovo’s accession, with 11 abstentions, amid fierce opposition from Serbia. It was a major milestone in the international integration of the country that declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

PACE effectively forwarded the final decision on accession to the Committee of Ministers, the final hurdle.

Kosovo applied to join the council in May 2022 after Russia was expelled following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, increasing its chances of securing the two-thirds majority needed for accession.

Kosovo’s chances were further improved in March when its government, led by Albin Kurti, granted 24 hectares of disputed land to a Serbian Orthodox monastery, ending an eight-year stalemate that had harmed the country’s reputation for protecting minority rights.

The Council of Europe has 46 member states, including all of the EU’s own 27 members, five of which do not recognise Kosovo.

France and Germany have meantime pressed Kosovo to take concrete steps in establishing an Association of Serb Majority Municipalities before obtaining CoE membership. The Slovenian President told BIRN that, as a lawyer, she believes that “pacta sunt servanda” – a Latin legal expression for “agreements are binding”.

Referring to a UN resolution to mark July 11 as a memorial day against genocide, co-sponsored by Slovenia, the President explained that such a “remembrance day” would be a “small step to show that we must not forget, we will never forget”.

“Next year will be 80 years since the Second World War ended and we still do not have reconciliation in my country. Reconciliation is a difficult process,” she said, adding that it needs also to be said clearly that the murder of “many people who were on the wrong side” in World War II was a crime.

Referring to the 1995 Bosnian Serb massacre of thousands of Bosniaks in Srebrenica as another genocide, she added: “We must say that it was a crime in Srebrenica … for Srebrenica we have international court decisions, there is no doubt. There was a whole procedure clearing up that this was genocide.”

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