Thursday

4th Mar 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal

Spain would be prepared to recognise Kosovo if it clinched a deal with Serbia, Madrid has said, in the first positive signal of its kind since EU-brokered talks resumed.

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

News in Brief

  1. EU regulator reviewing Russia's Covid-19 vaccine data
  2. Northern Irish paramilitaries pressure UK and EU on Brexit
  3. Man injures 8 people with axe in Sweden in possible terrorist act
  4. France bans far-right vigilante group
  5. EU dismayed as Lukashenko jails doctor over his diagnosis
  6. Brussels proposes EU-wide 'disabled status' card by 2023
  7. Czechs seek outside help to treat Covid-19 patients
  8. German intelligence to spy on far-right AfD party

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  2. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week
  3. Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves
  4. EU capitals water down MEPs' ambition in climate law
  5. The EU's perverse agenda in Bosnia
  6. US joins EU sanctions on Russia in show of unity
  7. EU needs to 'raise price' for attacking democracy, MEPs say
  8. EU Parliament to hold Frontex probe behind closed doors

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us