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Serbian, Kosovo leaders in EU-backed talks to normalize ties

Pristina – Serbian and Kosovar leaders meet in Brussels on Tuesday to continue talks on implementing an 11-point plan to normalize relations between the two, backed by the European Union, but tensions continue to escalate.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell convenes high-level talks between Serbian President Alexander Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Alvin Kurti. They are expected to approve a declaration on missing persons and also discuss the first draft of the establishment of an association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.

The meeting follows talks in February when the two leaders gave tacit approval to an EU-backed plan to end months of political crisis, and Belgrade and Pristina announced plans to implement the plan. It follows the March summit in North Macedonia, which tentatively agreed on a method.

Borrell’s special negotiating envoy for Belgrade Pristina, Miroslav Lajkak, said Tuesday’s talks were “an important step forward and it is important to avoid actions that could worsen the atmosphere.”

Few of the agreements reached between the two countries in 12 years of EU-led negotiations have been applied. Brussels and the US often step in to calm the tense situation between Belgrade and Pristina. Even more so in his past year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Belgrade insists Pristina must implement a 2013 agreement to create a coalition of Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo. Coordinate development work. Kosovo’s Constitutional Court later ruled that the plan did not involve other ethnic groups and could involve the exercise of executive power, declaring the plan unconstitutional.

Serbia has said there can be no progress in negotiations before the association is addressed. Her Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Kosovo would try to avoid any movement on the topic.

“We heard the same thing 10 years ago. No,” said Dacic.

Local elections were held last month in a Serb-dominated commune in northern Kosovo after a Serb representative left the post last year. The vote was overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serbs.

Vucic applauded the vote boycott and sharply criticized Western officials, calling them liars and fraudsters. He said the Serbian minority in the former Serbian province would no longer tolerate foreign “occupation”.

The talks will also address the issue of more than 1,600 people still officially missing since the 1998-99 war. Kosovo accuses Serbia of hiding their location.

The EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) has reported that many bodies are buried in small, unmarked graves and cemeteries due to perpetrators’ efforts to make the search for missing persons more difficult. He says it’s hard to find. Hiding evidence. Most of the missing are Albanians, but there are also a few Serbs.

“The international community will put pressure on both Prime Minister Kurti and President Vučić to continue their constructive approach because that is the only way forward,” said Kosovar analyst Altan Muhasheli. rice field.

Kosovo is a former Serbian state. His 1998-1999 war in Kosovo erupted when separatist Albanians rebelled against Serbian rule, and Belgrade responded with a brutal crackdown. About 13,000 people died, most of them Albanians. In 1999, NATO military intervention forced Serbia to withdraw from its territory. Kosovo declared her independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize it.

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Semini reported from Tirana, Albania. Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade. ___Follow his Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/05/02/serbia-kosovo-leaders-in-eu-backed-talks-to-normalize-ties/ Serbian, Kosovo leaders in EU-backed talks to normalize ties

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