EU urges Serbia and Kosovo to keep their promises after a leaders’ meeting ended in acrimony

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union called on Serbia and Kosovo on Tuesday to respect an agreement aimed at ending tensions between them and then putting their relations on a more normal path Conversations between their leaders ended last week in acrimony.

At a meeting in New York, EU foreign ministers said that the commitments made by Serbia and Kosovo in the pact signed in February “were binding on them and played a role in the parties’ European path,” referring to their chances of joining the 27-nation bloc.

Ministers expressed concern about tensions in northern Kosovo, where 93 peacekeepers were injured in unrest in May. “Despite repeated calls from the EU and other international partners, the measures taken so far remain inadequate and the security situation in the north remains tense,” it said.

Serbia and its former province of Kosovo have been at loggerheads for decades. Their war in 1998-99 More than 10,000 people died, mostly Kosovar Albanians. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade refused to recognize the move.

The EU has tried to help them improve their relations by overseeing a “Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.” At a round of meetings in June, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic refused to meet in person.

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After recent meetings on September 14 in Brussels – where the two actually sat down at the table – EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell blamed Kurti for the collapse and insisted that Serbia should take steps to recognize Kosovo before progress is made could become .

Borrell warned that the two would end up at the bottom of the line of countries hoping to join the 27-nation bloc.

On Monday, Kurti accused EU dialogue envoy Miroslav Lajcak of failing to behave “neutrally and correctly” towards Kosovo in the talks. The EU denies this, although Borrell and Lajcak come from two countries – Spain and Slovakia – that do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

The ministers expressed their “full support” for Borrell and Lajcak.

Kurti – a longtime Kosovo independence activist who spent time in prisons in both Serbia and Kosovo – has frustrated Europeans and proven difficult for negotiators to work with since he became prime minister in 2021.

EU officials confirmed that last week’s meetings were tense and disappointing.

It is unclear when another round of meetings might take place and the EU appears to have little influence left. The United States is the other important player in this process.

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Borrell has regularly warned them that the last thing Europe needs is another war in its back door.

Vucic, a former ultra-nationalist who now claims to want Serbia to join the EU, has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and refuses to impose sanctions on Russia because of him War against Ukraine.

There are widespread fears in the West 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, and divert the world’s attention from the war.

Semini reported from Tirana, Albania

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