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Serbia and Kosovo settle dispute over identity cards

Serbia and Kosovo settle dispute over identity cards

DrAccording to the European Union’s foreign policy coordinator, Josep Borrell, the two Balkan neighbors, Serbia and Kosovo, settled their dispute over entry regulations shortly before the new deadline expired. “We have a deal,” Borrell said Saturday on Twitter’s SMS service. Serbia agreed to allow holders of Kosovo identity papers to enter the country without any additional documents. In return, Kosovo abandoned plans that would make it more difficult for Serb citizens to enter the country in the near future. Borrell said all citizens will now be able to travel freely between Kosovo and Serbia with their ID cards.

Borrell spoke of a “European solution”. “We congratulate the two leaders (President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti) on this decision,” the Spanish politician continued. Shortly thereafter, Serbian Prime Minister Kurti also responded on Twitter: “Reciprocity must be the spirit of basic solutions.” Vucic had no reaction at first.

The controversial entry rules for Serbs into Kosovo were due to come into effect on Thursday, 1 September. Originally, it was supposed to be in effect since August 1st. However, under pressure from the United States and the European Union, the plans were delayed by a month. The goal of the Kosovo government was to treat Serbs crossing the border in the same way that Serbia treated Kosovar residents. For nearly a decade and a half, Serbia refused to recognize the declaration of independence of the former province of Kosovo.

The European Union has been trying for years to help clarify the relationship between the two sides. This is very tense because Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, broke away from Serbia in 1999 with the help of NATO and declared independence in 2008. More than 100 countries, including Germany, have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Other countries – including Russia, China and five countries in the European Union – have not yet done so. In the past, there have been sieges and clashes between the Serb minority and the security forces in the border area.

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