Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high diplomat, mentioned Serbia and Kosovo have reached a compromise deal over the distribution of exit and entrance paperwork, a difficulty that has helped increase tensions alongside the 2 nations’ border.
“We’ve got a deal,” Borrell mentioned in a Twitter posting on August 27.
“Below the EU-facilitated Dialogue, Serbia agreed to abolish entry/exit paperwork for Kosovo ID holders and Kosovo agreed to not introduce them for Serbian ID holders,” he mentioned.
“Kosovo Serbs, in addition to all different residents, will have the ability to journey freely between Kosovo & Serbia utilizing their ID playing cards. The EU simply obtained ensures from [Kosovo] PM [Albin] Kurti to this finish.
“This can be a European resolution. We congratulate each leaders on this choice & their management,” Borrell added.
In a video message, Borrell thanked Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for the settlement to permit freedom of motion of the nations’ residents.
Phrase of the settlement got here after the U.S. particular envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, who’s on a go to to the area, and EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak each met with Vucic in Belgrade on August 25 after holding talks in Kosovo with Kurti and ethnic Serb leaders as half the efforts to ease tensions.
Kurti mentioned in a Fb posting that residents of Kosovo “with identification paperwork issued by our nation, will have the ability to cross the border with Serbia in any respect border crossings with out obstacles, burdens, or delays.
“The identical will apply to the other way within the case of coming into Kosovo with identification paperwork issued by the authorities of Serbia.”
Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani thanked the EU and Washington in a Fb posting and mentioned that “freedom of motion is the muse of democratic societies and European values.”
“We are going to unstoppably proceed our dedication to mutual recognition,” she mentioned.
The transfer seems to be a significant concession by Serbia’s Vucic, who beforehand had refused to simply accept Pristina-issued paperwork, which might be seen as Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovar nationwide paperwork.
Kosovo and Serbia fought a bloody battle within the late Nineties, with Kosovo ultimately declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.
Belgrade — in addition to Russia, China, and 5 EU member states — has not acknowledged its former province’s independence and accuses Pristina of suppressing the rights of minority Serbs, who account for five % of Kosovo’s 1.8 million inhabitants, which is 90 % Albanian.
For the previous a number of years, the EU has mediated negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia to normalize relations, in search of to kickstart their efforts to affix the European Union.
Rigidity between Kosovo and Serbia resurfaced late final month when Pristina declared that Serbian id paperwork and automobile license plates would now not be legitimate on Kosovar territory.
Serbs, who stay principally in northern Kosovo, reacted with fury, placing up roadblocks and firing their weapons into the air and within the course of Kosovar cops. Nobody was injured.
Kurti postponed the implementation of the measure for a month, to September 1, after obvious stress from the West.
Borrell, in his video message, mentioned the issue with the license plates should nonetheless be solved and he urged leaders of each nations to discover a resolution.
Vucic mentioned earlier within the day that he hoped an settlement on entry paperwork might be reached and that the EU would supply ensures for it. He mentioned he had little hope for an accord on license plates.
Ethnic Serbs within the north of Kosovo have been utilizing automobile plates issued by Serbian establishments because the battle in 1999 with acronyms of Kosovar cities, corresponding to KM (Kosovska Mitrovica), PR (Pristina), or UR (Urosevac).
The federal government in Kosovo regards the plates as unlawful however till now has tolerated them in 4 northern municipalities with Serb majorities.