May 24. 2024. 6:04

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Lajcak: Kosovo, Serbia expected to agree on normalising relations on Monday

The Special Envoy of the European Union for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajçak, said he expects Belgrade and Pristina to accept the European proposal, backed by France and Germany, for the normalisation of relations with Kosovo at the meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) announced on Wednesday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti confirmed attendance at a high-level political meeting in Brussels on 27 February.

Along with Lajcak, EU High Representative Josep Borrell will hold separate meetings with the leaders, followed by a joint meeting. The forum’s focus will be the EU Proposal on the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and a press conference led by Borrell will follow the sessions.

“We expect them to officially and publicly declare that they accept the plan,” Lajcak said.

The EU requires Kosovo and Serbia to resolve ongoing historical disputes between them to progress along their EU membership path. Serbia is a candidate country, working through the necessary chapters, while Kosovo applied for membership in December 2022.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 following the bloody 1998-1999 Kosovo-Serbia war, with most UN member states, including the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Turkey, recognising its sovereignty. Belgrade, however, refuses to budge and still considers it a territory.

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Vucic said last autumn that France and Germany, key forces behind the proposal, dangled the carrot of accelerated accession if Belgrade accepted the plan.

While the pressure is on both sides, two main sticking points remain. For Kosovo, implementing a 2013 agreement on creating an Association of Serb Municipalities, which the Constitutional Court later struck down, is hard to swallow.

Lajcak said the court ruling could allow for the association, and it does not specifically say it cannot be created.

“I almost know the decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo by heart, and it says that the Association must be established and that the legal act from the government must take into account the findings of this court.”

Kurti has stated that the association cannot be created as mono-ethnic as Kosovo is not a mono-ethnic society, but he has not ruled out the formation of some kind of structure.

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Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed the parliamentary assembly on Thursday and stated the conditions under which the Association of Serb Municipalities would be acceptable.

The association was agreed and signed upon in 2013 under the previous government, but it has …

On the subject, Lajcak said, “I think that Kosovo is multi-ethnic, we are talking about the Association, I don’t think that there is a single mono-ethnic municipality, there are Albanians living in the north of Kosovo, we want to apply European models, we don’t want to force Kosovo to accept anything it wants was against its functionality and against its legal system, why will we do this.”

Kurti told the media in Pristina this week that the matter of the association will not be on the table for him on Monday. He said previously that the association could be discussed once relations are normalised.

Vucic, for his part, said there would be talk on the ASM because he will talk about it, and “by God, so will the European representatives”.

For Serbia, the main sticking point is recognising Kosovo’s independence or entertaining its membership of institutions like the EU, Council of Europe or UN.

Asides from opposing these, Belgrade continues to lobby against Kosovo’s recognition with other countries and within international institutions, against the agreement signed in 2013 which included Pristina’s requirement to establish the association.

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