Kosovo-Serb talks fail in Brussels; Borrell says Kurti will not budge on CSM

Sometimes the truth comes out in the wash.

This appeared to be the case Thursday when, following meetings between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, European Union High Representative Josep Borrell stated clearly that Kurti blocked a new plan to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

“Today I tried with Kurti and Vucic to find solutions on way forward based on our proposals. Unfortunately, Kurti was not prepared to move forward on the establishment of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities (CSM) insisting on de facto recognition as the first step,” Borrell said, as cited by Serbian news site N1.

Albin’s decision to block a CSM appears no less than indicative of Kosovo’s broader intentions. Despite the fact that the CSM was agreed upon by all parties in 2013, it has never been implemented, and this fact has given Serbia cause to doubt the sincerity of any negotiations moving forward. In short, recognition of Kosovo as an independent state by Serbia (and de facto the United Nations and the remaining parties who do not recognize Kosovo within the EU) would simply mean that a CSM is forever off the cards.

Vucic knows this, and interestingly it appears that he also clearly called Kurti’s bluff, as Borrell noted that Vucic accepted the proposed plan. Borrell did add that implementation of normalization “has not started, and this speaks to the absence of commitment” by both parties.

Despite seeming to also place blame on both parties, Borrell caught flak from Kosovo for taking the side of the Serbs, but he also noted that the EU wants current ethnic-Albanian mayors in North Kosovo to resign and for new elections to be held there. Earlier this year ethnic Serbs boycotted elections in Serb-dominated districts over calls of harassment by Kosovo police, who are primarily ethnic Albanian. Despite frustration on the part of the EU and the US, Kosovo backed the legitimacy of elections that saw only 3.5 percent local participation and provided strong-armed police “protection” to put said mayors in place.

This resulted in a series of violent riots, and in fact over the course of 2023 numerous KFOR peace keepers have been injured during local unrest.

Yet while Borrell criticized the leadership of both countries, he also threw in yet another curve ball, implying that the track for EU membership for both countries was in jeopardy due to lack of normalization.

Which would seem to de facto mean for Serbia that it must eventually recognize Kosovo or give up on the ostensible dream of joining the EU.

Complicated times. And yes, sometimes the truth comes out in the wash.

Photo by the Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain (Attribution or Attribution), via Wikimedia Commons.

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