The heads of Serbia and Kosovo have reached an agreement for the normalization of bilateral relations after a marathon 12-hour meeting mediated by the EU. “I can announce that Kosovo and Serbia have agreed to apply the annex to the agreement for the process of normalization of relations between the two, between Kosovo and Serbia”, has announced the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell.

Borrell recalled that both Kosovo and Serbia have as strategic objective membership in the EU and for this “Serbia and Kosovo they need to normalize their relationships“. “This agreement is an important step to make it happen. Let’s keep working tirelessly until we reach a comprehensive agreement for the normalization of their relations”, Borrell stressed.

In this sense, the head of EU Diplomacy has highlighted that it has been a “protracted and difficult” dialogue, but “in good faith” which has concluded with a commitment by Kosovo to apply “immediately” Article 7 of the agreement for the application of a self-government mechanism for the Kosovo Serb population. “And when I say immediately, I mean immediately,” Borrell stressed.

Similarly, Pristina undertakes to apply the statement on missing persons with “urgency”. “I have to admit that from the beginning we raised this issue as a non-negotiable point,” Borrell said, noting that “several creative proposals have been put forward, both on the signing and on the substance” of the agreement.

“It is clear that both parties will obtain important benefitss of this agreement because the dialogue is not only about Kosovo and Serbia”, but about “stability”, he argued, to which he added: “In the current geopolitical context it is an important tool to maintain peace and stability in the Western Balkans region”. Borrell met with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, and with the Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, in the town of Ohrid, in North Macedonia.

Vucic points out that nothing new has been signed

For his part, Vucic, despite the agreement, stressed that nothing new has been signed and has highlighted the formation of political institutions for the representation of the Serb minority in northern Kosovo. “I have to say that i am very satisfied with this. There has been talk of missing persons, donor conferences. The plan has to be expanded,” she said.

Vucic has also revealed that the European Council will be in charge of evaluating progress on the application of the agreement and has highlighted the “constructive atmosphere” of the negotiations. However, he has pointed out that it will already be Monday when he will explain the details of the agreement reached to his compatriots. “From Monday I will receive the representatives of the parliamentary groups. We have serious work ahead of us, for the coming months,” he pointed out in statements collected by the Serbian media.

Kurti describes the agreement as “de facto recognition”

Meanwhile, the Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, has described the agreement as “de facto mutual recognition”, although he has also highlighted that “the other party, the same as in the last meeting in Brussels on February 27, flees from signing.” Regarding Article 7 on the self-management of the Serb community in Kosovo, the president has assured that “of course” they will be guided by the highest standards so that the Serbs in Kosovo do not feel any violation or any discrimination”, in statements collected by ‘koha’.

“Regarding the Serbian Orthodox Church, there is a problem in the basic agreement, and what I expressed during this meeting is that I am interested in having an open and honest conversation on all the issues that they want to discuss with me as the prime minister of Kosovo.” , has added.

Belgrade and Pristina have been in negotiations for decades in Brussels with few results and a poor record of implementing the agreements already reached, weighed down by the conflicts arising from the violent secession of Kosovo from Serbia at the end of the 1990s.