Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari says Serbia must recognise past wrongs in its relationship with Kosovo before it is ready to join the European Union.
The former Kosovo envoy says the Serbs “have to be able to live with their past.”
Serbia ignored Kosovo’s declaration of independence earlier this year, which has since been endorsed by more than 50 countries.
Ahtisaari says he supports all Balkan nations entering the EU, but that Serbia must first “recognize that something went terribly wrong” in the way it dealt with its former province.
Speaking to reporters in Oslo, before the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the former Finnish President also said “Kosovo is independent and that process is irreversible.”
He said he is “satisfied with the fact that more than 50 countries have recognised Kosovo.”
The so-called Ahtisaari plan, a blueprint for Kosovo’s supervised independence, was never accepted at the UN, due to objections from Russia and Serbia.
Until March last year Ahtisaari mediated Serb-Albanian talks on Kosovo as the United Nations special envoy.
Ahead of the ceremony, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee Ole Danbolt Mjoes told the Belgrade daily Politika in an interview that Ahtisaari “is controversialm” but that he also “deserving of the award”.
Mjoes specifies that the Nobel Committee recognized Ahtisaari for his involvement in the Namibian independence, Aceh’s autonomy within Indonesia and the Kosovo status talks.
“That engagement of his was controversial, but he did all he could,” Mjoes said of the Kosovo issue.
“Ahtisaari arrived to his own conclusion on Kosovo, which was not generally accepted, so he had to say that his mission was over. Still, more than fifty states supported Kosovo’s independence. He did a great thing in Namibia, as well as in Aceh. There’s still work to be done in Kosovo, that is true,” Mjoes told the newspaper.