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27 Aug, 2022 21:00

Serbia-Kosovo deal reached

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has announced an agreement on the freedom of movement between Belgrade and Pristina
Serbia-Kosovo deal reached

Serbia and Kosovo have reached an “agreement on freedom of movement” following weeks of tensions, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Saturday, adding that he was “happy to announce” the deal between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s prime minister Albin Kurti.

Following last week’s meeting between the two leaders in Brussels and “intense follow-up efforts in Pristina and Belgrade,” Serbia agreed to abolish entry and exit documents for Kosovo ID holders, and Kosovo agreed not to introduce same for Serbian ID holders, Borrell said in a statement.

Serbs living in the northern part of the breakaway province as well as other Kosovo residents will be able to freely travel between Serbia and Kosovo using their existing ID cards, the statement said, adding that the EU had “received guarantees from Prime Minister Kurti to this end.” 

Borrell then praised the development by saying that “we found a European solution that facilitates travel between Kosovo and Serbia.” He particularly lauded Vucic’s actions by saying that the Serbian president “showed responsibility and leadership today.” The senior EU diplomat also thanked the US “for their support to the EU-facilitated dialogue,” calling it “an example of excellent practical EU-US cooperation.” 

Borrell admitted that “the problem with the license plates” had not yet been resolved and called on the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to “continue showing pragmatism and constructiveness” in this regard as well. Still, he said that “today is a very good day.”

Belgrade seemingly did not share Brussels’ joyful sentiment. Speaking to Serbian citizens on Saturday, Vucic described the talks with “Albanians from Kosovo” as “very unsuccessful, extremely difficult,” adding that “in the end we came to the point that we do not agree on anything.”

The Serbian leader insisted that “mutual recognition” will never be on the agenda as Belgrade “cannot forget that Kosovo is part of Serbia.” He also said that officials in Brussels are wasting their time and money if they think they would be able to facilitate such an agreement.

Vucic did confirm that Serbia would accept Kosovo’s IDs when it comes to travel but would only do so “for practical reasons,” to “enable freedom of movement.” Such a step “cannot be interpreted as recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, nor does it prejudice sovereignty,” he added.

What is important is that “Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija can move and enter and leave the territory of Kosovo and Metohija freely,” Vucic said, adding that Belgrade is asking “for guarantees from EU, we ask that every Serb from the north of Kosovo and Metohija can enter the territory of Kosovo and Metohija with Serbian documents, and that they can leave whenever they want.” 

We are always ready for a compromise, but we have not come to that. Kurti is convinced that with their propaganda, they will succeed in convincing the Serbian people to give up their state of Serbia. 

The development came a day after the US envoy for the Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, called on Serbia to recognize Kosovo and promised prosperity in the EU for both of them instead. Vucic responded by saying that he was not surprised to hear something like that from a US diplomat.

“Don’t forget that he represents American politics. What do you expect from him, what news is this for you?!” the Serbian president said on Saturday, adding that “they [the US] tell us this for 23 years!”