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Serbia, Kosovo leaders hold talks as pressure mounts to ease tensions | Conflict News

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European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it was time for the two countries to normalize relations “for good”.

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are holding a new round of meetings aimed at improving their strained relations as calls grow for a change in the Western diplomatic approach to them.

As tensions could spiral out of control between the two countries, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti are in Brussels on Thursday for talks as part of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process, overseen by the political chief foreigner of the European Union, Josep. Borrell.

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The last round of dialogue in June ended without producing tangible results.

Vucic and Kurti refused to meet face to face, and Borrell, who held discussions separately with the two men, admitted to having “different interpretations of the causes but also of the facts, the consequences and the solutions”.

In May, during a conflict over the validity of local elections in the Serbian part of northern Kosovo, Serbs clashes with security forcesincluding NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers working there, injuring 93 soldiers.

Soldiers from the NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR confront ethnic Serbs in front of the Zvecan municipality building (File: Georgi Licovski/EPA)

Last week, KFOR Commander Major General Angelo Michele Ristuccia warned that his forces are “living in a period of constant crisis management.”

He said tensions between Belgrade and Pristina are so high that even “the most insignificant event can create a situation”.

In August, senior lawmakers from the United States – the other diplomatic power involved in the process – warned that negotiators were not putting enough pressure on Vucic. They said the West’s current approach demonstrated a “lack of impartiality.”

Vucic, a former ultranationalist who claims to want to integrate Serbia into the EU, has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has refused to impose sanctions on Russia over its war against Ukraine.

Historical tensions

Kosovo is a territory predominantly populated by Albanians and which was formerly a province of Serbia. It declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade has refused to recognize the decision. The two countries have been at odds for decades, with their 1998-99 war killing more than 10,000 people, mostly Kosovo Albanians.

Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s statehood and still considers it part of Serbia, although it has no formal control over it.

The independence of Kosovo was recognized by around 100 countriesincluding the United States.

However, Russia, China and five EU countries sided with Serbia. The impasse has fueled tensions and prevented full stabilization of the Balkan region after the bloody wars of the 1990s.

In the West, there is widespread concern that Moscow could use Belgrade to reignite ethnic conflicts in the Balkans, which saw a series of bloody conflicts in the 1990s during the breakup of Yugoslavia, in order to distract the world’s attention from the war.

But at the same time, Kurti – a longtime Kosovo independence activist who spent time in prisons in Serbia and Kosovo – has frustrated the Europeans and proved difficult for negotiators to work with since He became Prime Minister in 2021.


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