Ankara expresses readiness to mediate Kosovo-Serbia talks
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said that Turkey is ready to mediate peace talks between Kosovo and Serbia if it is asked to do so. Erdogan made the remarks at a joint press conference in Pristina alongside his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci, as part of a two-day visit to Kosovo to discuss bilateral ties and recent developments in the country. Since Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, 69 countries, including Turkey, have recognized the nascent state. Erdogan said an International Court of Justice ruling this July saying that Kosovo's declaration of independence does not violate international law will help its future. Though Serbia vowed following the ruling that it will never recognize Kosovo's independence, Erdogan said he believes the ruling will improve relations between Belgrade and Pristina. For his part, Thaci said Kosovo will be pleased if Turkey is involved in the process. Erdogan stressed the historical, cultural and social relations the two countries enjoy, adding the ethnic Turks living in Kosovo constitute a strong bilateral cultural bridge. Noting that Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo's independence, Erdogan said Ankara has continued to support Pristina, adding that the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) continues to work in Kosovo on projects to, for instance, preserve historical and cultural heritage. Erdogan said Turkey hopes for a multicultural, democratic, prosperous and stable Kosovo and will continue to support it. He added that there are 530 Turkish troops serving in the NATO peacekeeping mission there, and he is also considering visiting them.