Serbia, Kosovo leaders weigh EU proposals to improve ties

Serbia, Kosovo leaders weigh EU proposals to improve ties
Serbia, Kosovo leaders weigh EU proposals to improve ties

BRUSSELS (AP) — The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are holding talks on Monday on European Union proposals geared toward ending a long series of political crises and setting the 2 on the trail to higher relations and finally mutual recognition.

Tensions have simmered between Serbia and its former territory since Kosovo unilaterally broke away in 2008; a transfer acknowledged by many Western nations however opposed by Serbia, with the backing of Russia and China.

Lately, these tensions flared over seemingly trivial issues like vehicle license plate formats, or the arrest of an ethnic Serb police officer, triggering renewed concern amongst Western leaders {that a} new Balkan battle may get away simply as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its second yr.

At conferences in Brussels, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti are anticipated to focus on methods to put the European proposals into motion. Each leaders have already mentioned the plan, which hasn’t been made public, and EU officers are assured of progress.

A senior EU official stated earlier than the talks that “we want to break the vicious circle of disaster.” He stated the proposals are “not the tip of the street” when it comes to normalizing ties between Belgrade and Pristina, however that given latest tensions, the EU plan is the “most achievable at this level.”

The official briefed reporters on the situation that he not be named due to the extremely delicate nature of the conferences. Earlier talks between Vucic and Kurti have degenerated into arguments and mutual recrimination, however this time each leaders have already endorsed the proposals “in precept,” he stated.

Vucic stated Sunday, earlier than the conferences supervised by EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell, that he’s “prepared to work on the idea and implementation of the proposed plan with clearly outlined limitations.”

He did not specify the “limitations,” however he has repeatedly stated that they embody the refusal to acknowledge Kosovo as an unbiased state in addition to agree to it turning into a U.N. member.

The EU has mediated negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo since 2011, however few of the 33 agreements which have been signed had been put into motion. The EU and the U.S. have pressed for quicker progress since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine final yr.

Earlier this month, a whole bunch of Serbian nationalists gathered in Belgrade to demand that Vucic reject the EU plan and pull out of the talks.

Shouting “Treason” and carrying banners studying “No give up,” the right-wing protesters blocked visitors as they gathered close to the Serbian presidency constructing. The protesters are additionally strongly pro-Russia, and one banner learn: “Betrayal of Kosovo is betrayal of Russia!”

In latest months, U.S. and EU envoys have visited Pristina and Belgrade often to encourage them to settle for the brand new proposals, and the 2 leaders met with senior EU representatives on the sidelines of a serious safety convention within the German metropolis of Munich earlier this month.


Dusan Stojanovic contributed to this report from Belgrade, Serbia.

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