The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo agreed on Monday to a Western-backed deal to normalise relations but more talks are needed on the implementation of the pact, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
Speaking after hosting talks in Brussels between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Borrell said the leaders agreed “no further discussions” are needed on the deal between the former wartime foes. But he said “further negotiations are still needed” on how the agreement and previous commitments made by the two sides would be implemented. He said an annex on implementation was an “integral part” of the deal and it had yet to be finalised.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, almost a decade after war brought an end to Serbian rule. But Serbia still regards Kosovo as a breakaway province and flare-ups between the Balkan neighbours over the years have stoked fears of a return to war. EU officials said the deal was intended to make life easier for citizens of both Kosovo and Serbia, for example by agreeing on mutual recognition of official documents such as passports.
Kurti said he had been ready to sign the deal at the meeting on Monday. “It is a pity that we did not sign the deal tonight despite the fact that we all agree,” he told reporters. But Vucic said that was an unrealistic expectation, as more discussion was needed. “It is a serious, long, difficult and tiring process,” he said.
But Vucic also said: “It is important and good that we talked. I believe that we will be able to overcome unilateral moves that would threaten the safety of people on the ground.” He said he hoped and believed “that we will be able to work on … implementation and, above all, the implementation of previously reached agreements.”
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