Serbia promises “normal” relations with Kosovo, but does not want to put that on paper

Serbia and Kosovo have reached an agreement to normalize their relations. However, putting that promise on paper still goes a bit too far for Serbian President Vucic.

After a 12-hour meeting at a holiday resort in North Macedonia attended by European representatives, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti agreed on Saturday to normalize relations.

Serbia wants normal relations with Kosovo. We want to be able to travel, we want to do business. “You cannot isolate yourself behind 100-meter-high border walls,” Vucic told reporters on Sunday.

According to the negotiated agreement, Kosovo will not yet be officially recognized by Serbia, but Belgrade will “take note” of independence. In doing so, Serbia will recognize Kosovo’s passports, vehicle registration plates and customs documents. Belgrade also no longer prohibits Kosovo’s membership in international institutions.

Talks continue

Kurti said on Saturday evening that this “fait accompli” is tantamount to Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence. And Kosovo, in turn, promised to guarantee the rights of Serb minorities and to grant Serb communities “a greater degree of autonomy.” On the other hand, the European Union promised to provide assistance in organizing a donor conference for both countries.

He made it clear on Sunday that with that agreement actually signed, Vucic is still going far. “I do not want to sign any binding international treaty with Kosovo because Serbia does not recognize its independence,” he added. According to Josep Borrell, the European High Representative for Foreign Policy, the talks will continue until a comprehensive agreement is reached. He admitted that the EU was hoping for a more detailed and ambitious text.

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If Serbia ever wants to join the European Union, Brussels must first normalize its relations with Kosovo. It declared its independence in 2008, but Belgrade is still considered a Serbian province.

Denton Watson

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