A recently circulating photograph on the network has raised allegations about a map hanging on a wall in the office of the European rapporteur for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, where the border between Kosovo and Serbia is allegedly missing. “Faktoje” verification indicates that this information is false.
An image shared on the network showing the European Union rapporteur for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajčak, in his office, with a map in the background where the border between Kosovo and Serbia is not visible, is being used as proof of his bias in the process of EU mediation for the normalization of relations between the two Balkan countries.
“This person, a Slovak, who keeps this map in his office, has no chance to mediate between Greater Serbia and something that does not exist. The time has come for the EU countries to learn a lesson. He carries the flag of Europe in vain, because he is sworn pro-Russian.” – this is caption of one of the posts showing this image on June 17, 2023.
Following such allegations, “Faktoje” made a verification of this case that sparked an online debate.
The image was first published on February 20, 2021 by Miroslav Lajçak himself, who announced a discussion with the head of the EU Regional Cooperation Council, Majlinda Bregu, about the need for more regional cooperation and the region’s European aspirations.
The photo shows the European rapporteur for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, with a map of the Balkan region, where the border between the state of Kosovo and Serbia is not clearly visible.
The same map appeared in the interview Lajçak gave for European Western Balkans on February 20 two years ago.
This view, where Kosovo from a distance looks like it is part of the territory of Serbia, fueled dissatisfaction online.
The photo was widely distributed, causing a debate about the existence or lack of the border between Kosovo and Serbia on the map located in Lajcak’s office.
There were many reactions. Among them, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, Meliza Haradinaj, shared a message on Twitter suggesting Lajcak to use an accurate map.
Peter Stano, the EU’s foreign affairs spokesman, called the allegation about the “one-sided” map “inappropriate and false” in a reaction on the social network Twitter.
“The claim about the map is inappropriate and untrue. This official EU map is in line with the EU’s positioning – neutral status. I would recommend that everyone focus on real issues that help progress the dialogue towards normalization, instead of trying to create false stories.” – writes Stano on Twitter.
A few hours later came the reaction of the European reporter Miroslav Lajçak on the issue. Through a publication on the Twitter social network, Miroslav Lajçak published a close-up view of the map located in his office.
“Since the map in my office, blurred in the photo of my interview, has caused misunderstandings today, I am sharing a close-up photo of it. It is an official EU map for the Western Balkans. Kosovo is there, as is the line that separates Kosovo from Serbia.” – writes Lajçak on Twitter.
Seen closely, the map distributed by Lajçak looks like this:
The image actually shows a borderline dividing Kosovo and Serbia. What stands out is the fact that this “line” is not the same as the others that show the division of the borders of other states.
The attitude of the EU towards Kosovo and its independence also depends on the member countries. Five EU member states do not recognize Kosovo (Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Cyprus). For this reason, the European Union refers to the state of Kosovo only as “Kosovo” with a note at the bottom of the page where the text of the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is placed where it is stated that: This definition is without prejudice to positions on the status and is in accordance with the Resolution 1244/1999 of the United Nations and the Opinion of the ICJ on the declaration of Kosovo’s independence.
Based on this information, we can understand that the map displayed in Miroslav Lajcak’s office is the official map used by the European Union and not one of his choice. Also, the border that separates the territory of Kosovo from that of Serbia, although not the same as the other territorial borders of the map, is defined on the map. According to the positions of the EU, the map in question is in accordance with the neutral positioning of the union regarding the recognition of the border between Kosovo and Serbia.
*The news is published as part of the cooperation between Faktoje and Facebook to counter disinformation