As expected, intense Thursday “normalization” meetings that saw the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, as well as Brussels representatives, meet with both Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti—separately—saw no progress.
Kurti and Vucic had been all but summoned to Brussels where they were presented with a generally undescribed document that was to get talks between the two states back on track. It was, however, noted prior to the date that the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia would not meet face-to-face.
The EU has been at ends attempting to resolve differences between the two states, which once again threatened to spiral out of control, following an ambush by Serb paramilitaries on a Kosovo police patrol that left one ethnic Albanian policeman dead and three Serbs dead in September.
Following the meetings, EU High Representative Josep Borrell stated that essentially nothing was achieved as the two sides refused to sign any agreement. For his part, Serbia’s Vucic said that Serbia is “ready to sign anything” apart from an agreement that would see Kosovo recognized as an independent state.
Vucic highlighted that the agreement, however, included the creation of a community of Serb municipalities (CSM), which would give ethnic Serbs more autonomy, and in the view of Serbia, protect them from ongoing harassment in the enclaves of North Kosovo. Here it does appear that the EU has pushed hard for the CSM, which was actually already agreed upon in 2013, but Kosovo’s Kurti has instead said that not only Kosovo must first be recognized prior to the creation of a CSM (which is a non-starter), and that Serbia should be sanctioned for the September raid before he would resume dialogue (which is hardly helpful).
Vucic was quoted as saying that the “Big Five” agreement—a framework put forward by, among others, the president of France, the chancellor of Germany and the prime minister of Italy—is a “good foundation” and he repeated that Serbia was ready to sign everything that has been previously agreed, apart from Kosovo’s independence and UN recognition.
Photo by European Commission, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.