Serbia, Macedonia move to smooth over diplomatic spat

 24 Aug 2017 - 10:05

Serbia, Macedonia move to smooth over diplomatic spat
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BELGRADE, Serbia: Serbia and Macedonia on Wednesday moved to smooth over a recent diplomatic row which saw Belgrade pull its embassy staff from Skopje.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev held a phone conversation, days after Sunday’s Serbian withdrawal amid claims over intelligence-gathering activities.

A statement from Vucic’s office said the two countries would resolve all disagreements with dialogue and that, regardless of political differences, they would fight together to improve relations.

It also added Serbia and Macedonia would "in good faith and on a friendly basis" protect the rights and interests of diplomatic and consular missions on their territories.

However, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic raised possible Macedonian support for Kosovo's membership of UNESCO.

Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country, and insists the territory remains part of Serbia.

Brnabic said Zaev had “clearly and unequivocally” said Macedonia would not vote for Kosovo to join the UN body.

"It is important for me that my colleagues from the region keep their word," Brnabic added.

Relations between Belgrade and Skopje slowed in January, after Skopje initially supported Kosovo's UNESCO membership.

Pristina is making preparations for a possible second bid to join the UN cultural body after it failed to secure enough support in a November 2015 vote.

While Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia is recognized by over 100 countries, Belgrade remains concerned about its cultural heritage in the territory, such as Visoki Decani, an important medieval Serbian Orthodox Christian monastery.