Serbia and Kosovo Talks Collapse Despite EU Efforts

A European Union bid to breathe new life into stalled negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo fell through Wednesday, with Serbia’s president and the Kosovo prime minister failing to meet as planned.

The sitdown was supposed to happen nearly a year after the bitter rivals last met, following repeated rounds of unsuccessful negotiations.

Both Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti had separate meetings with EU representatives, but according to EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, “no progress in implementation of the agreement could be achieved.”

“This time, it has not been a trilateral meeting,” Borell said.

Talks between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at hammering out a landmark deal to pave the way for a semblance of normalized ties all but crumbled last year.

During a high-stakes summit in North Macedonia in March 2023, Vucic refused to sign the EU- and US-backed Ohrid agreement — citing a pain in his right hand that would likely last “years.”

Diplomats have continued to call for the implementation of the agreement, but the unsigned deal remains unenforced by either side.

Borrell said the EU would “continue putting all our efforts and capacity at the service of the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.”

These efforts will continue next week, Borrel said, when he will host the two negotiators in Brussels.

Vucic blamed Kurti for the talks failing to materialize, saying his Kosovan counterpart “did not dare to meet.”

Kurti countered by saying that he had put down conditions for the meeting with Vucic to take place, including the handing over of Milan Radoicic — the former vice president of Kosovo’s leading Serb party, which admitted to leading a commando squad that ambushed a Kosovo police patrol in September last year.

As last year’s talks collapsed, bouts of unrest erupted in Serb-majority areas across northern Kosovo.

Tensions continued to flare after the Pristina government made the euro its only legal currency recognised in its territory in February — effectively outlawing the use of the Serbian dinar currency.

That put pressure on Serbia’s ability to continue financing parallel health, education, and social security systems for Kosovo Serbs.

Kurti has defended the move as a means to crack down on the large amounts of cash pouring into Kosovo from Serbia and to bring organized crime groups to heel.

Animosity between Kosovo and Serbia has raged since the war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents in the late 1990s that drew a NATO intervention against Belgrade, which views Kosovo as a breakaway region.

Pristina declared independence in 2008, a move Serbia has refused to acknowledge as it views Kosovo as the nation’s historic homeland.

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