Sunday

19th Jan 2020

Serbia and Kosovo sign 'landmark' deal

  • The agreement establishes rules for use of the Mitrovica bridge (Photo: morbin)

Serbia and Kosovo reached agreement Tuesday (25 August) on key issues for better relations between the two countries, and between Albanian and Serbian people in Kosovo.

The deal, brokered in Brussels by EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, establishes strong local powers for Kosovo areas with a Serbian majority.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Kosovo also took a step towards recognition by Serbia of Kosovo’s own international phone code.

"Today's outcome represents landmark achievements in the normalisation process”, Mogherini said, adding that it’ll "enable the two sides to advance on their European path".

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. But Serbia, together with five EU member states and 29 other countries, still don’t recognise Kosovo.

Municipalities

Among Tuesday’s accords, the Serbian and Kosovo prime ministers, Aleksandar Vucic and Isa Mustafa, agreed to establish an association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.

Under the plan, 10 municipalities with a Serbian majority will have their own assembly with an elected president, and with their own flag, but will be subject to Kosovo law.

The new association will be responsible for issues including economic development, education, health care, and urban or rural planning. It’ll also be able to "enter into co-operation arrangements with other associations of municipalities" in Kosovo and abroad.

It’ll be financed by contributions from local people, local tax revenues, and transfers from Kosovo central authorities.

Serbia also has "the right to finance it, without taxes and duties", Vucic told Serbian radio.


The deal is "good for Serb people in Kosovo", he said, adding that there are "no longer any obstacles" for Serbia's EU membership application.

The establishment of the association was part of an older deal, signed in 2013 by Serbia and Kosovo to normalise relations.

It’s designed to ease tensions between Kosovo's Albanian majority and Serbian minority in a region still scarred by 1990's civil wars and ethnic cleansing.

Mitrovica

Tuesday's agreement also establishes rules for the use of a bridge in the divided town of Mitrovica, north Kosovo.

"As long as there are defined periods on the bridge to move the barricades and in other ways allow freedom of movement to people, we are giving up on the idea of uniting Mitrovica”, said Kosovo foreign affairs minister and former PM Hashim Thaci.

Other areas of Tuesday’s agreement include energy supply and telecommunications, with the symbolic decision to allow Kosovo to have its own phone code.

With this move, Thaci said, "Serbia in a way recognised Kosovo as an independent state”.

Opinion

Eulex report exposes EU failure in Kosovo

The Jacque report is important because it admits, for the first time, that Eulex failed to tackle corruption in Kosovo, posing questions for future EU interventions.

Opinion

Farewell multi-ethnic Kosovo!

The recent EU-brokered deal for greater autonomy for Kosovar Serbs is the first step towards creating a second Bosnia in the region.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us