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deadlock between Serbia and Kosovo, new talks planned

The Kosovar and Serbian leaders “did not reach an agreement” on Thursday in Brussels to ease the tensions rekindled on the border between the two countries at the end of July. “Discussions will continue in the coming days,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

No progress on the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue. The Kosovar and Serbian leaders “did not reach an agreement”, Thursday August 18, in Brussels, under the aegis of the EU in order to ease tensions between the two countries, but “discussions will resume in the coming days “, announced the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.

“There is still time between now and September 1”, expected date of entry into force of new administrative and border rules imposed by Pristina and denounced by Belgrade, he added, after the meeting convened after a new episode of violence in northern Kosovo at the end of July. He did not specify the format of the upcoming talks.

The Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, and the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, meeting within the framework of the “Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue” piloted since 2011 by the European Commission, “accepted that the process should continue (…). I don’t give up,” said Borrell, reporting on the discussions to the press.

Stability was threatened

“We fought for peace and stability, for compromise solutions. President Vucic will address (Friday) the nation” on his return to Belgrade, before a meeting on Sunday with the representatives of the Serbs of Kosovo, has said Thursday, on Serbian television, the head of Serbia’s office for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic.

NATO had warned Wednesday, after a meeting with the two leaders, that its peacekeeping force in Kosovo (Kfor) was “ready to intervene if stability was threatened”.

While the Russian offensive in Ukraine continues, “the international community does not want to see a resurgence of tensions. Both parties will be fully responsible in the event of an escalation on the ground”, warned Josep Borrell.

Before the meeting, he judged that “it was time to progress towards a complete normalization of relations” between the two countries, a key condition for their accession to the EU.

Independence

Invoking a principle of “reciprocity”, Pristina plans to impose temporary residence permits on people entering Kosovo with a Serbian identity card, and requires Kosovo Serbs to replace Serbian license plates in their vehicles by plates from Kosovo.

These new measures led to a new episode of violence at the end of July in northern Kosovo, where the Serbian minority considers them vexatious. Under pressure from the United States, Pristina had postponed their implementation until September.

Belgrade has never recognized the independence proclaimed by Kosovo in 2008, a decade after a bloody war that left 13,000 dead, mostly Albanian Kosovars. Since then, the region has been the scene of episodic friction. The approximately 120,000 Kosovo Serbs, a third of whom live in the north of the territory, do not recognize the authority of Pristina, remaining loyal to Belgrade.

Serbia and Kosovo aspire to join the EU: Belgrade has had official candidate status since 2012, while Kosovo is a “potential candidate”. Five EU countries refuse to recognize the independence of the former Serbian province.

With AFP