21st Oct 2016

Kosovo-Serbia talks fail to reach a deal, again

  • Kosovo is recognised by 90 countries but not neighbouring Serbia (Photo: Destination Europe)

Talks on resolving future Kosovo-Serbia relations and their EU accession prospects are set to go the wire after an extraordinary meeting in Brussels broke up without agreement on Wednesday (17 April).

The dialogue between Serbian PM Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci has come unstuck over the degree of autonomy to be awarded to ethnic Serb enclaves in Kosovo.

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Dacic wants them to have their own parliament, courts and police force.

But Thaci, as well as the US and EU countries, believe the de facto partition of Kosovo could destabilise other post-Yugoslav countries with ethnic enclaves, such as Macedonia and Bosnia.

If there is no deal on normalising Kosovo-Serb relations before an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Monday, the ministers are unlikely to look favourably on granting Serbia in June a date for launching EU entry talks.

But Germany, which has taken the lead on EU policy on the Western Balkans, believes Kosovo should start talks on a pre-accession pact - a Stabilisation and Association Agreement - whatever the outcome.

In a statement released early Thursday morning, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who chairs the Kosovo-Serbia talks, said there are still "some hours left" to get a deal.

"I hope in that time, that both delegations will reflect on whether they can take the final steps necessary to finish this agreement and to move their people forward into the future," she noted.

Meanwhile, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs will on Thursday vote on a resolution on Kosovo's integration with the rest of Europe.

They will also adopt progress reports on Serbia and Montenegro.

Speaking with MEPs on Wednesday, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule said that "a turning point" had been reached in the bloc's relationship with Serbia.

"It is time for Serbia and Kosovo to move on from the past and look ahead to a common European future," he added.

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