Brussels talks continue; Serbia, Kosovo agree to work to identify missing persons; CSM stalemate ongoing

Yet another round of negotiations—these in Brussels on May 2—may have resulted in more headbutting over an alleged “gentleman’s agreement” to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia, but at least the sides did concede to cooperate on cases of missing persons that resulted from the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo.

While the decision to work together on missing persons may not have been the desired final result, the concession to cooperate was good news following further tensions in North Kosovo over the refusal of ethnic Serbs to participate in local elections, which, according to EU High Representatie Josep Borrell, has the potential to derail talks completely.

“Some progress was achieved, but we need to stay the course,” Borrell stated via Twitter. “[The] EU is concerned about the situation in north of Kosovo. Both Parties need to work towards return of Kosovo Serbs to Kosovo institutions.”

The high representative went on to voice his “grave concern about the situation in the north Kosovo” following the sparsely attended elections, as quoted by Euroactiv.com.

Elections saw only 3.47 percent turnout of ethnic Serbs even though they dominate the key districts where voting took place.

“[The results] have the potential to lead to escalation and to undermine the agreement’s implementation,” he added.

Negotiations were attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Borrell and also EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak

Bearing the above in mind, unsurprising was that a key point again hinged on the creation of a Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM)—now dubbed an “association”—which has failed to be created despite this having been agreed upon in previous EU talks that took lace in 2013. Such a relatively self-governing CSM was later ruled unconstitutional by the Kosovo judiciary, and Borrell stated that current discussions on the CSM are “quite apart.”

Photo of EU High Representative Josep Borrell by Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain (Attribution or Attribution), via Wikimedia Commons.

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