Normalization plan: Kosovo and Serbia want to implement agreements

Status: 03/19/2023 04:54 am

Kosovo and Serbia want to improve relations between their countries. With the help of the European Union, the heads of government of the two countries agreed to implement the already negotiated agreement. But not signed yet.

According to EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell, Serbia and Kosovo have come close to normalizing their relations. “We have a deal,” Borrell said after lengthy talks between the two countries and the European Union in Ohrid, North Macedonia. Accordingly, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurdi agreed to implement the agreement aimed at improving strained relations between the two countries.

Serbia should recognize the state

It stipulates that Serbia will not recognize Kosovo under international law, but will recognize the statehood of the former Serbian province. As part of this, Serbia will recognize the unprecedented Kosovar passports, car license plates and customs documents.

In return, Kosovo must institutionally protect the rights of the country’s Serb minority. According to Borrell, Kosovo has agreed to immediately begin negotiations on greater self-government for the Serb communities in Kosovo.

Not signed yet

The EU expects more: “The agreement and its annex are considered accepted,” Borrell said – but neither country is following the “more ambitious ideas” of EU negotiators. But he did not give any details.

Vusic and Kurdi spoke separately to journalists after the meeting. “I didn’t sign anything today,” Vucic explained. The talks were constructive. Kurdi explained that there is “genuine” recognition between Serbia and Kosovo, but Serbia has yet to sign the agreement.

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The points of agreement had already been fixed

A draft of the agreement was already agreed in February. Negotiations in Ohrid are now about the deadlines and dates set out in the annex for the implementation of individual points of the agreement. It also includes commitments to the EU: to organize a donor conference on financial aid for Serbia and Kosovo in the coming months.

Pressure from outside and inside

Both Vucic and Kurti are under increasing pressure from the EU and other Western countries to improve their countries’ relations. In the past few months, tensions have again increased along the border. Both countries are trying to join the European Union.

Additionally, Vucic and Kurti are each subject to domestic political pressure. Serbian nationalists do not recognize Kosovo’s independence and threaten Vucic with protests if he backs down from this path. On the other hand, in Kosovo, many refuse to grant privileges to the Serb ethnic group. They fear that veto rights for Serbian communities will paralyze the entire state.

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