Belgrade-Pristina dialogue back on track as Serbia & Kosovo resume talks

The EU praised the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo Sunday for getting long-stalled talks on normalising their tense relations back on the rails and for setting up a face-to-face meeting in Brussels later this week, AP Europe reports.

It came after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti held video talks mediated by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, aimed at resuscitating the process, known as the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, which has been frozen since November 2018.

“The EU-facilitated dialogue on a comprehensive normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is back on track after 20 months,” EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak, who also took part in the meeting, said in a video statement after it had ended.

“We agreed on the main elements of the process. We also agreed on the agenda of our next meeting that will take place this coming Thursday, in Brussels, in person. I want to thank our partners for their constructive engagement today,” Lajcak said.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, around a decade after Belgrade sent troops into its former territory to crush an uprising by ethnic Albanian separatists. Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s statehood, and tensions have simmered ever since.

In talks on Friday, Vucic and Hoti held firm to their positions. Vucic said the EU-backed process would be “meaningless” if they focus on whether Belgrade should recognise Kosovo’s independence: Hoti said “mutual recognition between the two countries is the only way to normalise relations.”

The negotiations, which the EU says is the only way to address their membership aspirations, began in March 2011 and have produced some 30 agreements, but most of them have not been observed.

Borrell said in a video statement that clinching an agreement on normalizing their ties "is crucial for a better future for the people of Kosovo and Serbia. It is crucial for their European perspective, and for the security and stability of the region."

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