May 24. 2024. 6:00

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Kurti: Kosovo has EU, US guarantees to implement Serbia agreement


Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed parliament on Thursday to reveal details of the EU-facilitated meeting with Serbian President Aleksander Vucic las week, stating he has received guarantees from the EU and the US on the implementation of the agreement to normalise relations.

While nothing was signed during the meeting in Ohrid, North Macedonia, the EU announced the annexe of the agreement had been agreed on.

Kurti said there would be mutual recognition of all state documents and symbols, including passports, diplomas, driving licences, and custom stamps. The two countries would also exchange permanent missions, and de facto embassies but with a different name. The implementation of this was guaranteed, he added.

“Serbia has accepted all of this above, this is, of course, a de facto recognition established in written form and in an irreversible status now because the European Union and the United States of America are guarantors of its temporal permanence. All these obligations are in effect. Cooperating states will receive a boost in their respective EU accession process and financial support,” he told parliament.

Belgrade and Pristina have been in EU-backed talks since 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence in 2008 following the 1998-1999 Kosovo-Serbia war.

But Serbia still regards Kosovo as a breakaway province, and flare-ups between the Balkan neighbours over the years, intensifying in 2022, stoked fears of a return to conflict.

The agreement on Saturday (18 March) came after 12-hour talks between Kurti, Vucic and EU officials on implementing the deal, which both sides had verbally agreed to in Brussels last month.

The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said Kosovo had lacked flexibility on substance, while Serbia had refused to sign the document although Belgrade said it was “fully ready to implement” it.

He also added that the EU will now demand both sides to fulfil obligations if they want to become member states, warning of consequences if they fail to comply.

February’s 11-point plan says that Serbia and Kosovo are obliged to develop normal, good-neighbourly relations and respect each other’s independence and territorial integrity. The annexe provides further details on provisions as well as foreseeing the creation of a Joint Monitoring Committee that would be chaired by the EU.

Kurti called the agreement and its annexe a “powerful weapon” which should be used in the best possible way for Kosovo.

“Now we have a new document in hand, and we must make the best use of it. We have a new document that was previously unavailable, this is a powerful weapon for us to move forward. With the previous documents, we got stuck, with this document, we can move forward”, he told parliament.

Kurti did, however, warn that the road to normalisation of relations, which he said, in reality, translates to recognition, will not be easy as Vucic will do everything possible to sidestep the deal.

“We have it in writing that Serbia agrees that conditionality will continue until full normalisation, i.e. recognition. There is no international, European or American official who does not say that full normalisation means mutual recognition,” Kurti said.

“I do not expect an easy path, we must be attentive and vigilant as there will be many traps. Serbia will do everything possible, including openly ignoring the agreement, cancelling, and interpreting what we agreed on,” he added.

Just hours after the end of the meeting last weekend, Vucic told Serbian media that he did not and would not sign any deal now, or in the next four years because his arm hurts.

“I have excruciating pain in my right hand, I can only sign with my right hand, and that pain is expected to continue for the next four years,” Serbia’s Vucic said on live TV.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)