Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  2. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  3. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  4. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  5. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls
  6. Italy defies EU deadline on changing budget
  7. Report: FBI looking into Brexiteers Farage and Banks
  8. Italian journalist unions protest 5MS 'whores' jibe

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  2. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  3. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  4. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  5. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  6. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  7. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  8. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us