The Serbian President aleksandar vucicand the Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurtyresumed this Thursday the dialogue facilitated by the European Union (EU) to normalize their relationship, in a meeting that has not served to unblock the dispute over license plates and the documentation issued by the Kosovar authorities, the main cause of tension this summer in the north of Kosova.
“Unfortunately we have not reached an agreement today. I am sorry. But it is not the end of the story. Both leaders have agreed that the process must continue and the discussion will resume in the coming days.”announced the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Joseph Borrellat a press conference after the meeting in which he acted as facilitator between Belgrade and Pristina.
In any case, the head of community diplomacy affirmed that “he is not throwing in the towel” and expressed his determination to continue discussing to find an “intelligent” solution to the situation, noting that “there is a deadline” until September 1, when the controversial kosovar law will come back into force.
European sources confirmed to the agency Europe Press that the talks between Vucic and Kurti will continue over the next few days in Brussels with the mediation of Miroslav Lajkakthe EU Special Envoy for the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
The meeting was marked by the blockade of border crossings by the Serbian community in protest at the application of a law -already postponed for a month- by which people from Serbia who entered Kosovo had to hand over their identity documents, which would be replaced by others issued in Pristina.
As Borrell acknowledged, Thursday’s meeting was not just another meeting within the framework of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina facilitated by the EU, since it comes at a “dramatic and dangerous moment for Europe”, in the midst of the war in Ukraineand conveyed to Vucic and Kurti that they are responsible for alleviating the crisis, after stating that “this is not the time to increase tensions, but to find solutions and resolve entrenched problems.”
“There are certainly differences between them on what the final state of relations between Kosovo and Serbia will be, but they have agreed to continue dialogue on a regular basis to accelerate normalization,” Borrell said.
This has been the first face-to-face between Vucic and Kurti in Brussels in more than a year, despite the fact that the European Union perceives the normalization of relations between Serbia and its former province as a key element for the entry into the community bloc of both and to forge long-term political and economic stability throughout the Balkan region.
In this sense, the High Representative stressed that the European path of Belgrade and Pristina must be the ultimate objective of both leaders. For that, “they have to find a way forward on the road” and “the first step is to resolve the current situation”he stated in relation to the tuition crisis.
The talks between Serbs and Kosovars in Brussels went through different phases without reaching any major agreement since they began more than a decade ago. In this period there have been periods of up to a year and a half without encounters due to the political uncertainty in the region.
The frictions put the European Union, the United States and NATO on alert, which has reiterated that its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo will “whatever it takes” to prevent an escalation of the conflict.
The main objective of this multinational force, made up of more than 3,700 military personnel from 27 allied and partner countries, is to maintain a secure environment and guarantee the freedom of movement of all communities living in Kosovo.
Both NATO and Brussels have also warned Kurti and Vucic about the dangers of a inflammatory rhetoricafter the Serbian president has accused his Kosovar counterpart of preparing the massacre of Serbs in the north of his country and the prime minister of Kosovo has raised the possibility of Serbia declaring war on him.
On Wednesday afternoon, Vucic and Kurti met separately with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenbergwho reiterated the willingness of the allied mission to help reduce tension and referred the leaders to dialogue with Borrell to resolve their differences.
Kosovo, self-proclaimed independent in 2008, has been recognized as such by the US. and most of the EU partners, although not by Russia, China, India, Brazil or Spain.
(With information from Europa Press and EFE)
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