March 31, 2023

The president Serbia Aleksandar Vučić said on Saturday, March 18 that he had reached with the Prime Minister Kosovo Albin Kurti agreements on several points of the settlement plan proposed by the West. Negotiations between Vučić and Kurti in the city of Ohrid in North Macedonia lasted 12 hours. The Serbian President called them important, but added that he “didn’t sign anything” and it was not “Day X”, transmits Serbian edition of Evening News.

According to Vučić, the agreements reached at the meeting lay the framework for further negotiations between the parties. He also expressed confidence that the EU will appreciate the efforts of the Serbian authorities to resolve the long-standing conflict with Kosovo, and this will help the country in European integration. “If we want to continue following the European path, our progress will be appreciated,” the Serbian President stressed. He promised to tell more about the agreements reached with Kurti on March 19.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who mediated the talks in Ohrid, confirmed: “We have an agreement.” The parties agreed on an implementation annex to the Agreement on the path to normalization of relations, he wrote on Twitter. However, at the same time, Borrell stressed that many contradictions remain between Serbia and Kosovo, and reaching a comprehensive agreement will require further work.

The West’s Plan for Serbia and Kosovo

Plan for the settlement of the conflict between Serbia and separated from it 15 years ago Kosovo (which was never recognized in Belgrade) proposed in November 2022 by France and Germanyand backed by the US. The essence of the document of eleven points: both sides mutually recognize their national documents and symbols. Serbia refuses to blockade Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, including the UN. Kosovo, for its part, authorizes the activities of the Association of Serbian Communities in Kosovo and guarantees special protection for Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries.

On February 27, 2023, Vučić and Kurti already met in Brussels and adopted an EU-prepared mediation document. However, after returning from Brussels, Vučić declared that Serbia would never allow Kosovo to become a member of the UN, and Kurti swore to parliament that a Serbian association of communities with autonomy and self-government was out of the question, as well as the protection of Serbian cultural property.

Conflict or European integration?

The conflict between Serbia and Kosovo escalated in July 2022 when Pristina decided to introduce temporary documents for incoming Serbian citizens and demanded that the Serbian minority change their old Serbian license plates to local ones. As a sign of protest, Kosovo Serbs erected barricades, after which the Kosovo authorities postponed the introduction of new rules. Nevertheless, clashes continued until December.

However, in December Kosovo formally applies for EU membership. Serbia did it back in 2009. According to media reports, the West made it clear to both countries that their prospects for European integration directly depend on success in resolving the conflict.

See also:

What is happening in Kosovo and what role does KFOR play?

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