Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to implement an EU plan to resolve a decades-long dispute that has simmered since Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence within the wake of the Balkans wars.
The deal was introduced late on Saturday by EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell, after 12 hours of talks between the Serbian president and the Kosovo prime minister on normalising ties between their nations.
“Finally,” Borrell stated, talking from the North Macedonian resort of Ohrid the place Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Albin Kurti met, “we have a deal, we have an agreement on how to do it.”
Serbia has lengthy refused to recognise its former province as impartial — a view shared by a lot of the ethnic Serb group residing within the north of Kosovo, 1000’s of whom nonetheless use Serbian ID playing cards and drive vehicles with Serbian licence plates.
But with each Serbia and Kosovo searching for to hitch the EU, efforts to achieve a settlement have been stepped up.
Western stress for the 2 sides to resolve their variations intensified because the battle in Ukraine entered its second yr and fears of potential instability within the Balkans area grew.
“This is not just about Kosovo and Serbia,” Borrell stated. “This dialogue must be seen in the current broader geopolitical context, as an important tool to maintain peace and stability in the broader western Balkans region.”
An settlement between Belgrade and Pristina was initially reached final month however with no mutually acceptable plan to place it into observe. That second doc was thrashed out on Saturday, though as soon as once more it was not signed.
Borrell stated the deal had been watered down from a extra bold model which Kosovo wouldn’t settle for. Serbia additionally refused to signal the settlement, though it was prepared to implement it.
Kosovo has agreed to “immediately” arrange an affiliation of Serb majority municipalities, a transfer lengthy demanded by Serbs in Kosovo.
Serbia, in the meantime, stated it could “not object to Kosovo’s membership of any international organisation”. Although Saturday’s settlement doesn’t say so explicitly, this implies Kosovo might change into a member of the UN, its historic ambition.
Vučić warned of a tough path forward. “It wasn’t D-Day, but it was an OK day,” the Serbian president stated. “We made a good move in a constructive atmosphere. We have started to act.”
Kurti referred to as it a “public agreement”, including that it was “up to the EU to find the mechanism to make the status of this agreement legally and internationally binding”.
The EU will make implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia settlement a situation for the eventual accession of each nations. Borrell stated “there will be consequences” if the perimeters fail to comply with via on their commitments.
The EU will convene a donor convention later this yr for the good thing about Kosovo and Serbia, withholding any funds till the settlement is full and totally applied.