Serbia and Kosovo have agreed that no further talks were needed to sign an EU proposal to normalize ties, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced.
“We have made some progress today, but more work is needed,” Borrell said after a meeting in Brussels he hosted late on Monday between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Now the two Balkan nations will need to finalize discussions on the deal’s implementation, added the top EU official, following the talks held as part of an EU-led dialogue framework between the two Balkan nations at odds since Pristina declared independence from Belgrade in 2008.
“The Agreement is above all for the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia. I will convene another meeting between the two leaders in the course of March with the aim to finalize the discussions on the Implementation Annex, which will guide the implementation phase of the Agreement,” he said in a statement.
Borrell stressed that the deal would serve the interests of Kosovars and Serbians, who would now be able to freely move, study, and work in the other country.
Launched in 2011, the EU-led Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue aims to find a mutually agreeable solution for the disputes in the framework of a legally binding agreement.
Following a flareup in border tensions last summer, the EU’s special representative for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, presented the bloc’s latest proposal on normalizing relations in September.
Kosovo-Serbia dialogue process
The EU requires Kosovo and Serbia to reach a final agreement and resolve disputes between them in order to progress in their integration with the bloc.
Most UN member states, including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Türkiye, recognized Kosovo as a country separate from its neighbor when Pristina declared independence 15 years ago. But, Belgrade continues to regard it as its territory.
President Vucic said in October that Germany and France had offered to expedite Serbia’s EU membership process if it recognized Kosovo’s independence and allowed it to become a member of international organizations.
According to the leaked proposal, Kosovo should, for its part, allow the establishment of a union of Serbian municipalities in the north, where many ethnic Serbs live.
EU officials hope to complete negotiations on the plan this spring, with Brussels having facilitated the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue.
According to the block, the parties agreed on the following articles:
The Parties shall develop normal, good-neighborly relations with each other on the basis of equal rights.
Both Parties shall mutually recognize their respective documents and national symbols, including passports, diplomas, license plates, and customs stamps.
Both Parties will be guided by the aims and principles laid down in the United Nations Charter, especially those of the sovereign equality of all States, respect for their independence, autonomy and territorial integrity, the right of self-determination, the protection of human rights, and non-discrimination.
In conformity with the United Nations Charter, the Parties shall settle any disputes between them exclusively by peaceful means and refrain from the threat or use of force.
The Parties proceed on the assumption that neither of the two can represent the other in the international sphere or act on its behalf.
Serbia will not object to Kosovo’s membership in any international organization.
Neither Party will block, nor encourage others to block, the other Party’s progress in their respective EU path based on their own merits. Both Parties shall respect the values referred to in Articles 2 and 21 of the Treaty of the European Union.
While the present Agreement constitutes an important step of normalization, both Parties will continue with new impetus the EU-led Dialogue process which should lead to a legally binding agreement on comprehensive normalization of their relations.
The Parties agree to deepen future cooperation in the fields of economy, science and technology, transport and connectivity, judicial and law enforcement relations, posts and telecommunications, health, culture, religion, sport, environmental protection, missing persons, displaced persons and other similar areas through the conclusion of specific agreements.
The details will be agreed in additional agreements facilitated by the EU-led Dialogue.
Both Parties commit to establish specific arrangements and guarantees, in accordance with relevant Council of Europe instruments and by drawing on existing European experiences, to ensure an appropriate level of self-management for the Serbian community in Kosovo and ability for service provision in specific areas, including the possibility for financial support by Serbia and a direct communication channel for the Serbian community to the Government of Kosovo.
The Parties shall formalize the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and afford strong level of protection to the Serbian religious and cultural heritage sites, in line with existing European models.
The Parties shall exchange Permanent Missions. They shall be established at the respective Government’s seat.
Practical questions relating to the establishment of the Missions shall be dealt with separately.
Both Parties take note of the EU’s and other donors’ commitment to establish a special investment and financial support package for joint projects of the Parties in economic development, connectivity, green transition and other key areas.
The Parties shall establish a joint Committee, chaired by the EU, for monitoring the implementation of this Agreement.
Both Parties confirm their obligation to implement all past Dialogue agreements, which remain valid and binding.
Both Parties commit to respect the Implementation Roadmap annexed to this Agreement.
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