Due to renewed tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, the EU held talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti. “Recent tensions in northern Kosovo have once again shown that it is time to move towards full normalization of relations,” EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell tweeted today. Borrell called for both countries seeking to join the EU to be “open and flexible”.
struggle for independence
The cause of the dispute is the declaration of independence of the former Serbian republic of Kosovo in 2008, which Serbia does not recognize as a separate state. 13,000 people were killed in the war that resulted from Kosovo’s independence efforts. The majority of the Serb population in northern Kosovo remains loyal to the Belgrade government.
More recently, the conflict, which had been brewing for years, had escalated because Pristina, in response to a corresponding Serbian measure, wanted to demand a temporary residence permit from Serbs entering the country – and Serbs in Kosovo to replace their Serbia car plates with the Kosovars. In view of the escalation of the conflict – Serbs in northern Kosovo have erected barricades – Pristina has postponed the new regulation until 1 September.
After a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today, the Serbian president said he expected “difficult talks” with the Kosovar side. “Even if I keep hoping for some form of solution, I remain skeptical,” Vucic said on Twitter Thursday. Kurti criticized “illegal Serb structures” that “turned into criminal gangs” and would set up barricades in northern Kosovo.
Stoltenberg said yesterday that NATO-led security forces are ready to intervene “if stability is threatened.” Troops could also be reinforced if needed.
Borrell said today that “it won’t be necessary.” He met first with Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti and then with Serbian President Vucic before bringing the two politicians together as part of the “Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue”. This has been managed by the EU Commission since 2011.