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Balkan Agreement – Serbia and Kosovo begin talks

Balkan Agreement – Serbia and Kosovo begin talks

Senior representatives of the European Union, Serbia and Kosovo met in the North Macedonian seaside resort of Ohrid on Saturday. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti are negotiating an agreement comprehensively regulating relations between the two Balkan states. The European Union is represented by Foreign Policy Coordinator Josep Borrell and Special Envoy for the Balkans Miroslav Lajcak.

Kosovo, now populated almost exclusively by Albanians, broke away from Serbia in 1999 with NATO help and declared independence in 2008. Serbia still does not recognize this.

According to the planned agreement, Belgrade will not recognize Kosovo under international law, but will recognize the residence of the state in its former territory. In particular, it is supposed to recognize Kosovo passports, vehicle registration plates and customs documents, which it has not done until today. Kosovo, in turn, should institutionally guarantee the rights of the country’s ethnic Serb group.

Verbal agreement at the first meeting

At the first meeting on February 27, the two sides verbally approved the draft agreement in principle submitted by the EU on the basis of the Franco-German proposal. Saturday’s negotiations revolve around deadlines and specific dates for implementing the individual points of the agreement. Borrell wanted to reach a comprehensive agreement by the next EU summit next week in Brussels.

For the nationalist Vucic, any softening of the hard line against Pristina is a political risk. Before Saturday’s meeting, he repeatedly stated in Serbia: “I have not signed anything and I will not sign anything either.” Corti, in turn, is under pressure from Kosovar Albanians and voters who oppose concessions to the Serb community. (appa)

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