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Kosovo, Serbia agree on how to implement EU normalization plan

Kosovo and Serbia are European Union-sponsored plan to normalize relationsaccording to the bloc’s top diplomat, the leaders of the two countries said disagreements remained.

Saturday’s deal came after 12 hours of talks between Kosovar Prime Minister Alvin Kurti, Serbian President Alexander Vucic and EU officials on implementing the normalization plan agreed in Brussels last month.

The two leaders held separate talks with the EU’s head of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, before the tripartite meeting in the North Macedonian town of Ohrid.

“We have reached an agreement,” Borrell tweeted after the meeting.

“Kosovo and Serbia have agreed on an implementing annex to the Agreement on Pathways to Normalize Relations,” he said.

This means “practical steps on who, how and what must be done when,” he added at the press conference.

Kosovo and Serbia have been in EU-backed talks for almost a decade since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. However, Serbia still considers Kosovo a secession state, relapse Fears of renewed conflict are growing among neighboring countries in the Balkans.

Both countries hoped to one day join the EU and were told that relations had to be repaired first. , raising fears in the West that Russia could seek to stir up instability in the volatile Balkans, where it has historical influence.

The EU plan calls for the two countries to maintain good neighborly relations and to recognize each other’s official documents and national symbols.but the plan Drafted by France and Germany, backed by the United Statesdoes not explicitly seek mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia.

If implemented, it would prevent Belgrade from blocking Kosovo’s attempts to join the United Nations and other international organizations.

Serbian populist President Vucic had tentatively agreed to an EU plan that arrived last month, but under pressure from far-right groups that see Kosovo as the Serbian state and the cradle of Orthodox Christianity, several It seems to have been withdrawn at some point.

Vucic said on Thursday that he would “sign nothing” at the Ohrid conference, previously pledging not to recognize Kosovo or allow it to join the United Nations. Kurti insisted on it.

He said the parties did not agree on everything, but that “despite our differences, we had a decent conversation.”

“We face serious and difficult challenges in the coming months,” he added.

Kurti, meanwhile, complained that Vucic did not sign an implementation contract on Saturday.

“This is a de facto recognition between Kosovo and Serbia,” he said, as Serbia has not yet signed the agreement, adding, “Now it is the EU that makes it internationally binding.” It’s up to you,” he added.

Borrell said that if the EU wants to join the bloc, it will now force both sides to meet their obligations, warning of consequences otherwise.

He also touched on the proposed Serb municipal union in Kosovo. It would give greater autonomy to the Serb-majority municipalities.

“Kosovo has agreed to start soon. When I say soon, I mean soon. Negotiations with the European Union will ensure an adequate level of self-management for the Kosovar Serb community. Dialogue was facilitated to establish specific arrangements and guarantees to do so,” said the EU’s top diplomat.

Kosovo is a former province of Serbia with an Albanian majority. The 1998-1999 war erupted when separatist Albanians rebelled against Serbian rule, and Belgrade responded with brutal repression.

About 13,000 people died, most of them Albanians.

In 1999, NATO military intervention forced Serbia to withdraw from its territory.Kosovo declaration of independence in 2008.

Since then, tensions have risen. Kosovo’s independence recognized Belgrade, backed by Russia and China, is opposed by many Western countries. In recent years, little progress has been made in negotiations mediated by the EU.

Serbia has maintained close ties with its traditional Slavic ally, Russia, despite the war in Ukraine. One reason is that Moscow opposes Kosovo’s independence and may veto its accession to the United Nations on the Security Council.

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