EU-sponsored talks aimed at normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo will resume this Sunday — a year and a half after they ground to a halt as tension rose between the former wartime enemies.
“I can confirm that … the prime minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti, and the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, will come to Brussels for the high-level meeting of the EU-facilitated dialogue,” Peter Stano, a spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy arm, told a press briefing at European Commission headquarters on Monday.
The talks’ ultimate aim is to reach a comprehensive agreement between the two sides, who fought a war in 1998 and 1999, halted by a NATO bombing campaign that ended Serb control of Kosovo. Kosovo, whose population is mainly ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade continues to regard the territory as a rebel province.
The talks came to a halt late in 2018 after Kosovan authorities imposed 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods. Kosovan authorities cited as justification efforts by Belgrade to stop Kosovo from joining Interpol and to persuade countries to withdraw recognition of the territory. Kosovo revoked the tariffs last month, following intense U.S. and EU pressure.
In recent months, the United States has sought to play a greater role in encouraging cooperation between the two sides. But a White House meeting due to take place last month was scuppered after prosecutors for a special tribunal in The Hague announced they had filed war crimes charges against Kosovan President Hashim Thaçi.
Ahead of Sunday’s meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a summit by videoconference on Friday with Hoti, Vučić, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU special envoy Miroslav Lajčak, the Elysée palace said in a statement.
The summit will be the result of “steps France and Germany took together, toward Serbia and Kosovo, with the goal of consolidating stability in the Western Balkans and reinforcing their ties to the European Union,” the statement said.
Macron will host the Kosovan prime minister on Tuesday in Paris, while Serbia’s president will visit the French capital on Thursday, the statement also said.
Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aleksandar_Vucic_%26_Michael_Spindelegger.jpg