9th Dec 2023

No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell: 'There is no alternative to the dialogue' (Photo: European Union, 2022)
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The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo failed to resolve their differences, following EU-mediated efforts to ease a spike in tensions.

"Today, there is not an agreement, but we do not give up," said the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell on Thursday (18 August).

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Borrell said talks need to continue, noting that Europe cannot afford another armed conflict given Russia's war in Ukraine.

"This is not a moment for increasing tensions — it is time to look for solutions and to solve long outstanding issues," he said.

Borrell said both sides "agreed to continue discussions on a regular basis".

But asked if any progress had made on the most pressing issues, Borrell said no. The talks took place in Brussels between Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo's prime minster Albin Kurti.

Neither made any press statements after the meeting. Vučić is set to meet representatives of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo's north on Friday.

The two sides are at loggerheads over plans by Pristina to issue licence plates to the ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo's North Mitrovica.

Kosovo had agreed to postpone issuing the licence plates until 1 September.

But the Serbs refuse to recognise such plates, as well as entry/exit travel documents, amid legacy grievances from the war in the 1990s.

Vučić had already hinted that the talks would go nowhere ahead of the meeting, telling reporters that they do not agree on almost anything.

For his part, Borrell said there was still time up until to 1 September to find a solution.

Nato is also prepared to send in more troops to the north of Kosovo to keep the peace, said Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg earlier this week.

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.

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