With statements on the recognition of Kosovo, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) caused outrage in Belgrade. “So you can understand: We don’t react to pressure in this way, where someone threatens us and then you have to do something,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday after meeting Scholz in Belgrade.

From the EU he “heard for the first time today that mutual recognition is required”. During his visit to Pristina in the morning, Scholz said about the efforts of Kosovo and Serbia to join the EU: “An agreement must ultimately also clarify the issue of recognizing Kosovo; because it is inconceivable that two countries that mutually not recognise, become members of the EU.”

Scholz reacted calmly to Vucic’s outrage in the joint press conference with the Serbian President. He said “something that is obvious. Maybe that will help.”

The Chancellor has also called on Serbia to join the European Union’s sanctions against Russia. “We expect that the sanctions will also be implemented by those countries that are moving in the EU accession process,” he said on Friday in Belgrade.

However, according to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, his country takes a different stance on the sanctions. So it has to take into account that it is in a “very complicated situation” with regard to the energy supply.

On the other hand, Scholz acknowledged the clear stance of the government in Pristina on the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “Through their support of all measures and sanctions, Albin Kurti and the government of Kosovo have shown that Kosovo is a reliable partner close to us and to the side of the European and international community,” said the Chancellor.

The conflict between Serbia and Kosovo has not been resolved for years and is hampering the prospects of both Balkan countries joining the EU. The government in Belgrade does not recognize the former southern Serbian province of Kosovo as an independent state.

“In times like these, the value of peace and security is once again made clear to us,” said the Chancellor, referring to the Ukraine war. Kosovo and Serbia would have to “find a political solution with a comprehensive, sustainable agreement that also contributes to regional stability”.

Serbia has close ties with Moscow; Unlike Kosovo, the country does not support the EU sanctions because of the Ukraine war. The Chancellor will meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade in the afternoon.

Further stops on his trip are Greece on Friday evening and Bulgaria and North Macedonia on Saturday. Central themes of the trip are the EU perspectives of the Western Balkan states and Russia’s attempts to expand its influence in the region of former Yugoslavia.