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26th Sep 2022

Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting

  • A Serb enclave in North Mitrovica, Kosovo, has been a long-standing source of tension (Photo: morbin)
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The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are meeting in Brussels Thursday (18 August) in the hopes of resolving a spike in tensions over border issues.

But Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić, who will be meeting Kosovo's prime minster Albin Kurti, has already cast a long shadow over the talks.

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"We are going to have difficult discussions tomorrow. We do not agree almost on anything," said Vučić on Wednesday, at a press conference with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Vučić also said Serbia is seeking stability and wants to avoid conflict.

The two sides have been at loggerheads over a border dispute amid fears a new conflict could be reignited in the shadow of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Those tensions revolve around ethnic Serbs refusing to recognise Pristina-issued license plates in North Mitrovica, a majority-Serb town inside Kosovo.

Pristina then agreed to postpone issuing the plates to September, following EU and US pressure.

Kurti had earlier this month warned that Serbia may attack Kosovo, triggering legacy grievances from the war in the 1990s.

He said the aim of the talks "must be to reach a legally-binding agreement centred on mutual recognition" between Kosovo and Serbia.

Stoltenberg had also said Nato was prepared to send in more troops, on top of the some 4,000 peacekeepers already stationed under its Kosovo Force (Kfor) mission.

"If needed, we will move forces, deploy them where needed and increase our presence. We have already increased the presence in the north. We are ready to do more," he said.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia 14 years ago and has around 50,000 ethnic Serbs concentrated in its north.

Some 100 countries recognise Kosovo, including the United States, Germany, and France. But Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece do not.

No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks

Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo's prime minster Albin Kurti met in Brussels with the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, in the hopes of finding a solution the recent spike in tensions between the two sides.

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