Kosovo, Serbia leaders meet to discuss implementation of EU peace plan – EURACTIV.com


Leaders of Kosovo and Serbia meet underneath EU mediation in Ohrid, North Macedonia, on Saturday (18 March) to debate the implementation of a deal on normalising ties agreed in precept final month, important for his or her hopes of becoming a member of the EU.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti will sit down for talks chaired by the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, who oversaw their earlier face-to-face assembly in Brussels final month the place preliminary progress was made.

“An settlement is sweet, an implementation path is healthier – and this assembly that we agreed, which goes to happen tomorrow in Ohrid, in an effort to outline the sensible steps that must be adopted – in concrete timelines, what must be finished, [by] when and the way,” Borrell informed reporters in Skopje on Friday.

The assembly will concentrate on how you can fulfil an 11-point settlement the EU has placed on the desk designed to assist draw a line underneath many years of enmity.

These newest talks observe months of shuttle diplomacy to push the EU plan that has been backed by the US and all 27 EU member states.

Tensions between Serbia and its former province, whose 1.8 million individuals are largely ethnic Albanian, are nonetheless excessive almost 25 years after a warfare between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Serb authorities forces.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 with US and EU backing, however Serbia refuses to recognise it and the Serbian structure considers Kosovo an integral a part of its territory.

Bilateral ties should be mended for Serbia and Kosovo to attain their strategic purpose of becoming a member of the EU. In recent times, clashes flared up between native authorities and Kosovo’s Serb minority.

Saturday’s assembly follows talks in Brussels final month the place the 2 sides moved nearer to a deal by giving their tacit approval to the EU-brokered peace plan however fell wanting deciding on an annexe, which is supposed to spell out steps to implement the ultimate deal.

Senior EU diplomats described the February assembly as the primary time the dialogue moved away from mere disaster administration to precise discussions about normalisation.

Particulars of the association, and different contentious points, are anticipated to be a part of that annexe on implementing the deal in addition to earlier commitments.

The EU’s Particular Consultant Miroslav Lajčák travelled to Kosovo and Serbia earlier than the Ohrid talks, and each side have offered feedback on the implementation annexe.

“We are going to focus on (…), and we’ll produce a consolidated model of the Annex primarily based on their suggestions. After which, I hope, Kosovo and Serbia will be capable of agree on the ultimate results of these discussions,” Borrell stated.

In accordance with the 11-point textual content, neither facet will resort to violence to resolve a dispute or search to forestall the opposite from becoming a member of worldwide our bodies – a key demand from Kosovo.

Belgrade isn’t required to formally recognise Kosovo as an unbiased state however agrees to recognise official paperwork reminiscent of passports, diplomas and licence plates and to not block Kosovo’s membership in any worldwide organisation, together with the EU.

The plan, nonetheless, additionally calls on each events “to make sure an acceptable stage of self-management for the Serbian group in Kosovo and the power for service provision in particular areas, together with the chance for monetary help by Serbia”

Serbia has insisted that Kosovo set up an affiliation of Serb-majority municipalities, however Pristina has been reluctant to permit a Belgrade-backed Serb Affiliation of municipalities, fearing this might result in a breakaway enclave that might undermine its sovereignty and violate its structure.

Borrell is anticipated to temporary the EU’s international minister on the progress of the talks throughout their common assembly in Brussels on Monday and EU leaders throughout their common March summit later subsequent week.

An settlement between Serbia and Kosovo is anticipated to bolster financial alternatives and EU integration not just for the 2 nations but additionally for the remainder of the Western Balkans, comprising Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albania.

Bilateral ties should be mended for Serbia and Kosovo to attain their strategic purpose of becoming a member of the EU.

However, Kurti and Vučić have over the previous three weeks traded barbs, insisting that many points remained unresolved that might stop an settlement.

On the eve of the talks, a number of thousand folks gathered in Belgrade to protest towards the Western-backed deal to normalise ties with Kosovo, which they view as a recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Protesters held Serbian flags and banners studying “Kosovo isn’t on the market,” “Serbia, not European Union,” and “No to capitulation.”

Serbia has to this point relied on its conventional ally Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Safety Council, and different nations that don’t recognise Kosovo, together with 5 EU members, to forestall it from becoming a member of the United Nations.

Washington, in the meantime, believes an settlement over the normalisation of ties between Serbia and Kosovo this 12 months is “fully” attainable, Gabriel Escobar, the senior US diplomat for the Western Balkans, stated earlier this week.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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