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 overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell, after 12 hours of talks between the Serbian president and the Kosovo prime minister on normalising ties between their nations.
“Lastly,” Borrell mentioned, talking from the North Macedonian resort of Ohrid the place Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Albin Kurti met, “we have now a deal, we have now an settlement on how you can 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, hundreds of whom nonetheless use Serbian ID playing cards and drive vehicles with Serbian licence plates.
However with each Serbia and Kosovo in search of to affix the EU, efforts to achieve a settlement have been stepped up.
Western strain for the 2 sides to resolve their variations intensified because the battle in Ukraine entered its second 12 months and fears of potential instability within the Balkans area grew.
“This isn’t nearly Kosovo and Serbia,” Borrell mentioned. “This dialogue should be seen within the present broader geopolitical context, as an vital software to take care of peace and stability within the broader western Balkans area.”
An settlement between Belgrade and Pristina was initially reached final month however and not using a 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 mentioned 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 keen to implement it.
Kosovo has agreed to “instantly” arrange an affiliation of Serb majority municipalities, a transfer lengthy demanded by Serbs in Kosovo.
Serbia, in the meantime, mentioned it might “not object to Kosovo’s membership of any worldwide organisation”. Though Saturday’s settlement doesn’t say so explicitly, this implies Kosovo might turn out to be a member of the UN, its historic ambition.
Vučić warned of a troublesome path forward. “It wasn’t D-Day, however it was an OK day,” the Serbian president mentioned. “We made an excellent transfer in a constructive environment. We now have began to behave.”
Kurti known as it a “public settlement”, including that it was “as much as the EU to seek out the mechanism to make the standing of this settlement legally and internationally binding”.
The EU will make implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia settlement a situation for the eventual accession of each nations. Borrell mentioned “there shall be penalties” if the perimeters fail to comply with by on their commitments.
The EU will convene a donor convention later this 12 months for the advantage of Kosovo and Serbia, withholding any funds till the settlement is full and totally carried out.