Serbia and Kosovo closer to normalizing ties – Vucic

The breakaway province has agreed to greater autonomy for its minority population, says the Serbian president

Serbia and its breakaway province Kosovo have made headway in normalizing ties, reaching agreement on several crucial points, President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Saturday. He said Pristina had consented to the creation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) which would give greater autonomy to the Serb population in several areas of Kosovo.

Speaking after a high-level meeting in Ohrid, North Macedonia, which was attended by Kosovo’s Prime Minister Aljbin Kurti and EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, Vucic said that while he “had not signed anything today,” the parties “had made good progress in a constructive atmosphere.”

“It was no D-day, but it was an OK day,” he summed up.

“These few points that we agreed upon will become part of the negotiation framework for each of the parties… The European Council will assess how much has been done by the implementation plan, which will have to be expanded,” Vucic stated.

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He highlighted that Belgrade attached much importance to the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities. “That’s why I’m really happy. It was stated that the formation of the CMS should be started immediately, but I don’t know if Pristina will do it.”

“If we want to persevere on the European path, our progress will also be appreciated in terms of the implementation of what I told you about tonight,” the president added.

Progress was also confirmed by the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. “The parties have fully committed to honor all articles of the agreement and implement their respective obligations expediently and in good faith,” he tweeted.

Last month, the EU unveiled a proposal for a “path to normalization” of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. At the time, the bloc insisted that the two develop “good-neighborly relations,” recognize each other’s documents and “proceed on the assumption that neither of the two can represent the other in the international sphere.”

Both parties must also “ensure an appropriate level of self-management for the Serbian community in Kosovo,” the EU said at the time.

However, Vucic signaled that while Serbia is ready to work on implementation of many points of the EU-backed plan, formal recognition and Kosovo’s accession to the UN are out of the question.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 with the support of the US and many of its allies. The breakaway region is not recognized by several countries, including Russia, China and Serbia itself.

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