Saturday

25th Feb 2017

Serbia and Kosovo sign first post-independence agreement

  • Eulex will have a bigger say on certifying Kosovo papers (Photo: jonworth.eu)

After five months of talks under EU mediation, Serbia and Kosovo on Saturday (2 July) signed a breakthrough deal allowing people to cross the border with Kosovo papers, and to get real estate documents and school diplomas recognised on both sides.

The agreement is the first one between the two sides since since Kosovo declared independence three years ago. Belgrade was quick to point out that it does not imply that it recognises its former province as being a state of its own, however.

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.

Under the agreement, Kosovo ID cards and licence plates will now be recognised by Serbian border guards, but not their recently issued passports, deemed a symbolic step too far. This will allow Kosovo citizens to travel to the EU directly through Serbia, after years of having to go the longer and more cumbersome route through Montenegro and Croatia.

School and university diplomas are also to be recognised on both sides, while the EU's justice and police mission Eulex will certify copies from the civil registry kept in Belgrade "with a view to establishing a comprehensive civil registry in Kosovo," the agreement reads. By doing this, Eulex is expected to ease procedures on issues such as divorce while curbing corruption and identity theft.

The agreement is expected to further boost Serbia's efforts to join the EU, after the arrest of suspected war criminal Ratko Mladic last month. The European Commission is in September likely to recommend that the country be given official EU candidate status.

For the Kosovo negotiations chief, Edita Tahiri, the deal represents a first step towards recognition of her country's independence.

"It is becoming clearer that Serbia's EU integration is conditioned by recognition of Kosovo and Serbia's first step toward recognition of Kosovo's independence was made today," she said after the meeting.

But her Serbian counterpart Borko Stefanovic stressed that this agreement does not imply any recognition of independence.

"A passport is the highest symbol of citizenship, while the identity card is not", he explained.

Back in Belgrade, this nuance may be hard to sell. The leader of the nationalistic Democratic Party of Serbia, Vojislav Kostunica, said the government betrayed the trust of all countries that oppose Kosovo independence.

"By recognizing various acts and documents of the quasi state of Kosovo, the current government has supported the snatchers of our territory," he was quoted as saying by Radio B92.

Interview

'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

Russia courts Serbia amid EU dispute

Serbian PM Vucic cut short a trip to Brussels, the same day as Russian foreign minister said the EU was pushing Balkan countries to "antagonise" Russia.

EU in damage control on festering Turkey relations

The EU commission wants to maintain relations with Turkey, despite an EU parliament vote to suspend accession talks amid renewed threats from Ankara to scrap a migrant swap deal.

Interview

'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations