Kosovo and Serbia set to reach new Western-backed deal to normalize relations 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 27, 2023 14:34

Kosovo and Serbia set to reach new Western-backed deal to normalize relations 

Story Highlights

  • The deal means Serbia will no longer block Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, while Kosovo will have to form a Serb-ruled entity inside its borders.

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TIRANA, Feb. 27, 2023 - Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serb President Aleksandar Vucic are set to reach a new deal in Brussels on Monday -- an agreement supported by the West for the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The two leaders have already said publicly that they accept in principle a European proposal supported by the United States, which does not foresee mutual recognition, but includes the commitment of the parties not to hinder each other in integration processes. 

Western diplomats expect that the two countries’ leaders will officially accept the proposal, which according to EU officials is non-negotiable, and to engage in discussions on its implementation. 

Western officials have informed both sides that the rejection of the proposal means facing sanctions. 

A senior European official said during the week that accepting the proposal also means accepting the association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo, which is the most controversial issue in the agreements so far. He said that the proposal also represents "de facto recognition" of Kosovo by Serbia, according to a VoA report

Although official agreement is expected, it is unlikely that any signature will be inked on Monday, with it likely to happen later in March, in the presence of high representatives from member countries of the European Union and the United States. 

The United States and the European Union said on the eve of the meeting that they expect progress in the meeting as well as the implementation of all the agreements reached in the talks so far, including the one for the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority in Kosovo. 

The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia are facing criticism in their countries because of their stance on the European proposal. A part of the opposition in Serbia claims that the proposal means recognition of Kosovo, accusing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic of failure in the process. 

The Serbian president said on Monday before leaving for Brussels that "there will be neither capitulation nor return to the 90s. Serbia will move forward no matter how difficult it is and we will manage to fight for it."

In Kosovo, a part of the opposition said that there are many uncertainties related to Monday's meeting and the proposal does not ensure final agreements but the creation of a new "status-quo."

Prime Minister Kurti said last week that "Kosovo's allies have drawn up the proposal as a package ... that also includes de facto recognition (by Serbia)."

A few days ago, Kosovo celebrated the 15th anniversary of independence, which was achieved with the support of the United States and major European countries, but is opposed by Serbia and its historic ally Russia. 

Since 2011, both countries have been involved in talks mediated by the European Union, which secured a number of agreements, but did not fulfill their main goal – the normalization of relations.

Western diplomacy has been trying to close the open problems between Kosovo and Serbia, with an interim agreement, amid fears that Russia may try to use the tensions between the parties to promote destabilization in the Balkans, which is still being renewed by the consequences of years of wars. the 90s.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 27, 2023 14:34