May 24. 2024. 6:41

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EU remains positive despite Serbian backtrack, Kosovar disappointment over deal


Following Serbian President Aleksander Vucic’s apparent backtrack on plans to sign the EU-brokered proposal to normalise relations between Serbia and Belgrade, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti spoke of his disappointment to parliament on Thursday while the EU remains positive.

During his speech in the assembly, he said Vucic disagreed with the proposal’s content and pointed to the fact that Kosovo was ready to sign while Serbia was not.

“Acceptance is made only through the signature of both parties. The refusal to sign it indicates that they do not agree with the content”, said Kurti, referring to the high-level meeting between him and Vučić in Brussels on February 27, where the European proposal was discussed.

Vucic said on 28 February that Serbia is ready to work on many things that emerge from the European proposal for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. However, he added that he would not discuss “mutual recognition, recognition and membership of Kosovo in the United Nations”.

While EU stakeholders were confident the deal would be signed at a meeting in North Macedonia on 18 March and “no further discussions” were needed on the EU-proposed text, Vucic disagrees.

“We are ready to negotiate the implementation plan, but I will not sign this,” Vucic told local media on Wednesday.

“That’s what I said to [French President] Macron and [German Chancellor] Scholz in Munich, and all the big leaders … we cannot talk about mutual recognition and the entry of Kosovo into the UN,” he added.

“As long as I am president, I will not sign or accept either formal or informal recognition of Kosovo or Kosovo joining the United Nations,” Vucic reiterated to local audiences

Meanwhile, an EU spokesperson told the media on Thursday that the two parties agreed on the text.

Serbia backtracks on positive signals towards EU-brokered Kosovo proposal

An EU-brokered verbal agreement on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo reached on Monday may have pleased the international community, however Serbian President Aleksander Vucic threw a spanner in the works on Wednesday.
Despite celebrations from the international community …

“I have nothing to add but only to repeat the text and the statement given by the high representative (Josep) Borrell, with which both leaders have agreed. We will not comment on every statement or every interpretation in the region about what they have agreed on. This is very clear from the text”, said the spokesperson.

They added, “it was not the issue of signing, but the discussions about the proposal that both parties agreed on, that there is no longer a need for additional discussions about this European proposal, which has turned into an agreement on the road to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia”.

Dutch MEP and rapporteur for Kosovo visa liberalisation, Thijs Reuten, called out Vucic’s refusal to sign.

“Vucic’s shameful refusal to sign the normalisation agreement with the Republic of Kosovo, which he ‘accepted’ on Monday, clearly suggests that Serbia is only playing for time. Again. The domestication must end. Carrots have failed. Bring out the sticks,” he wrote on Twitter.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 following the 1998-1999 war. Belgrade does not recognise this and considers Kosovo a province. Since then, tensions have simmered, and while both sides committed to an EU-facilitated dialogue process in 2013, little progress has been made.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)