Serbia, Kosovo reach agreement to implement EU-backed deal on normalizing relations By Reuters


© Reuters. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti looks on as he addresses the media, in Ohrid, North Macedonia, March 18, 2023.REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski


By Fatos Bytyci

OHRID, North Macedonia (Reuters) – Kosovo and Serbia have reached an agreement on implementing a European Union-backed deal to normalize relations, the Kosovo’s foreign policy chief said on Saturday. EU, Josep Borrell, although the two leaders said disagreements remained.

Kosovo and Serbia have been in EU-backed talks for nearly 10 years since Kosovo declared independence in 2008, nearly a decade after Serbian rule ended in war. But Serbia still views Kosovo as a breakaway province and flare-ups between Balkan neighbors have stoked fears of a return to conflict.

Saturday’s deal came after 12 hours of talks between Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and EU officials over the implementation of the deal, which the two sides had agreed to in Brussels. last month.

The two leaders held separate meetings with Borrell before a three-way session in North Macedonia.

“Kosovo and Serbia have agreed on the implementation annex of the agreement on the way to normalizing relations between them,” he told reporters after meeting the two leaders. in the North Macedonian city of Ohrid.

Vucic told a press conference that the parties did not agree on all points.

“Despite the differences, we had a decent conversation,” he said.

Speaking at another press conference, Kurti said, “This is a de facto recognition between Kosovo and Serbia” since Serbia has not yet signed the agreement.

Borrell said the EU will now forcefully ask both sides to fulfill their obligations if they wish to join the bloc, warning there would be consequences if they did not.

He also mentioned a plan to associate Serbian municipalities in Kosovo, which would give greater autonomy to municipalities with a Serbian majority, a long-controversial subject.

“Kosovo has agreed to launch immediately – and when I say immediately, I mean immediately – negotiations with the European Union have facilitated dialogue on the establishment of a specific arrangement and guarantees to ensure an appropriate level of self-management for Serb communities in Kosovo,” said the EU’s top diplomat.

In the appendix on the implementation of the agreement published on Saturday evening, the EU undertook to organize within 150 days a conference of donors to put in place a package of investments and financial assistance to the Kosovo and Serbia.


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