Serbia, Kosovo Leaders to Rekindle Stalled Talks

The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia are to restart the stalled negotiation process between the two governments in Brussels on Friday, almost seven months after they last met.
Thaci and Vucic with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in August 2017. Photo: Maja Kocijancic/Twitter

Presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci are to continue the EU-led negotiations on normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo on Friday, after the latest round of experts’ dialogue failed to make progress.

“I am 100 per cent certain that the dialogue and normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia are the only path to prosperity,” the chief of the Kosovo President’s office, Bekim Collaku, told Epoka e Re on Thursday.

Previously, Thaci’s advisor, Blerim Shala, said the two Presidents would discuss the long-delayed formation of an autonomous association of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo and energy issues.

Thaci and Vucic’s Friday meeting comes almost seven months after the previous one in August 2017, after which an agreement on integrating Kosovo Serbian judges into the Kosovo judiciary was implemented.

Since then, no progress has been made on other agreements. The last round of “technical dialogue” led by expert groups from March 19 to 21 ended in failure.

“No further progress was achieved,” the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Maja Kocijancic, said in a press release on Wednesday.

The EU called on both sides to intensify work, recalling that progress on relations is a key element on their respective European integration processes.

Serbia is insisting first on progress over the Association of Serbian Majority Municipalities.

The EU-mediated talks in mid-2015 envisaged that the statute of the Association would be drafted within four months. The deadline for that expired last December.

Ahead of the scheduled meeting, meanwhile, tensions rose after a Serbian returnee was arrested in Kosovo on war crimes charges, which Serbian officials called a provocation.

Belgrade and many Serbian media claimed that Pristina is arresting Kosovo Serbs in order to subvert the negotiations or distract from them.

Vucic and Thaci both visited New York ahead of Friday’s negotiations, but neither president claimed that a meeting took place. Vucic held talks with UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres, while Pristina-based media called Thaci’s US visit a “secret”.

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