Saturday

26th May 2018

Ashton clinches Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia is to get a date for EU accession talks, Kosovo is to get some control over its north and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton got kudos after a breakthrough in Kosovo-Serbia talks.

The deal in Brussels on Friday (19 April) saw Serbia drop its call for the ethnic Serb enclave in north Kosovo to gain autonomy.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It saw Kosovo drop its demand for Serbia to lift objections against Kosovar membership in international institutions, including the UN.

The first six points of the 15-point agreement spell out the powers of an association of Serb-majority municipalities, including control of "economic development, education, health, urban and rural planning."

But points seven to 10 give Pristina ultimate authority over police and courts in Serb areas.

Local Serb leaders will be able to nominate police chiefs, while rank-and-file police will "reflect the ethnic composition of the [local] population."

But Pristina's interior ministry will pick the chiefs from among the nominees.

The text adds: "There shall be one police force in Kosovo called the Kosovo Police. All police in northern Kosovo shall be integrated in the Kosovo Police framework. Salaries will be only from the Kosovo Police."

It also says: "The judicial authorities will be integrated and operate within the Kosovo legal framework."

Point 14 drops the UN-enabling language.

Instead it says: "neither side will block, or encourage others to block, the other side’s progress in their respective EU path."

Serb PM Ivica Dacic made a cagey statement after he initialled the paper.

He said initialling is not the same as signing and that "[Serb] institutions will decide in the next few days whether we will accept it or reject it."

Kosovar leader Hashim Thaci was more enthusiastic.

He said "the signature [sic] of the agreement is a recognition of Kosovo, its … sovereignty and territorial integrity." He added it "represents the start of a new era."

Ashton said: "What we are seeing is a step away from the past and, for both of them, a step closer to Europe."

The deal comes after 14-hour-long talks in Brussels on Thursday ended with no outcome.

Following Ashton's appeal, the Thaci delegation turned around in Ljubljana airport on Thursday night to return to the EU capital, prompting the Serbs to come back from Belgrade.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said he will recommend that EU leaders give Serbia a date in June for starting EU entry talks and give Kosovo a date for talks on a pre-accession pact, a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).

"I am confident that the agreement reached between the two sides will pave the way for the Council to take decisions on the next steps on the European path of Serbia and Kosovo," he said.

Barroso, EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele praised Ashton.

"I would like to thank high representative Ashton for her committed, consistent conduct of the facilitated dialogue crowned in the end with a true breakthrough," Van Rompuy said.

Speaking earlier on Friday at the "Globsec" conference in Bratislava, Fuele said the fact five EU countries do not recognise Kosovo is not a problem for the SAA.

He said the draft text has been designed to cover only commission competences and has no bearing on member states' laws: "Thus, at the end, there will be no need for ratification by member states."

Kosovo's deputy foreign minister Petrit Selimi said the UN clause would be no great loss.

"I think a lot of young people in Kosovo would love to have their team in the European football championships or their group in the Eurovision song contest … the UN will come," he noted.

He said the deal on normalising relations has some way to go before it becomes reality.

"If a young kid from Belgrade can come to Pristina, can visit the [Serb orthodox] Gracanica monastery, but also attend a concert, and the other way around, then that's the real test," he noted.

He added that Kosovo-Serb talks should go on for a long time.

"We will continue the dialogue. We will continue it all of our lives. We haven't been talking to each other since the fall of the Ottoman empire, so we have some catching up to do," he said.

Kosovo-Serbia talks fail to reach a deal, again

Talks on resolving future Kosovo-Serbia relations and their EU accession prospects are set to go the wire after an extraordinary meeting in Brussels broke up without agreement on Wednesday

Opinion

Kosovo-Serbia deal shows value of EU diplomatic service

The recent Kosovo-Serbia agreement landed Catherine Ashton the diplomatic victory she so badly needed to show the added value of the European External Action Service as a new EU foreign policy actor.

Opinion

Appeasement will not work with Erdogan

As EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker meet president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Bulgaria, their reluctance to use their diminishing leverage with Ankara means his dismantling of Turkey's democracy only speeds up.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations