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NATO backs Eurowings plan to launch Belgrade-Pristina flights - Stoltenberg

Author Radomir Ralev
NATO backs Eurowings plan to launch Belgrade-Pristina flights - Stoltenberg NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg/All Rights Reserved

BELGRADE (Serbia), January 21 (SeeNews) - NATO supports the intention of German low-cost air carrier Eurowings to launch a direct flight linking Serbia's capital Belgrade to Pristina in Kosovo, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. 

"I welcome the intention by Eurowings and the Lufthansa Group to establish direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina, based on the letters of intent signed today in Berlin," Stoltenberg said in a statement on Monday after government representatives of the two countries signed letters of intent in Berlin on the launch of a Belgrade-Pristina service. 

This is an important step, which will make the circulation of people and goods easier and faster within the Western Balkans region, Stoltenberg said. 

The Commander of the KFOR mission retains the authority in the airspace over Kosovo, according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, and NATO will remain involved through the long-standing Balkans Aviation Normalisation Meeting process, he added.

The agreement came after months of intense shuttle diplomacy by Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, who was named special envoy for Serbia-Kosovo relations by US President Donald Trump last year, The New York Times reported on Monday.

"What we heard from the business community in Kosovo and from the business community in Serbia is we want a more normalized commerce structure and we need a flight. It is the reason why we went after trying to figure out how do we make a direct flight for the first time in a generation," The New York Times quoted Grenell as saying. 

Serbia is working on creating administrative and technical conditions that would allow the launch of the flight, Serbian infrastructure minister Zorana Mihajlovic said in a statement on Monday.

According to Serbian media reports, Michael Knitter, head of traffic at Eurowings, a unit of the Lufthansa Group, said that the new line would be launched as soon as regulatory conditions are created.

Kosovo, considered to be a potential candidate for EU membership by the European Commission, unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has so far has been recognised by more than half of the 193 UN member states. Belgrade does not recognise Kosovo's independence.