Tuesday

23rd Apr 2019

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.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

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. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us