Serbia and Kosovo adopt normalization plan

In the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, both sides have shown willingness to approach each other. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti have accepted an EU proposal to normalize the long-tense relationship, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday after mediation talks in Brussels. Further negotiations are now necessary, which could be concluded by the end of March.

According to Borrell, both sides vowed not to take any unilateral measures that could lead to tensions and jeopardize the agreement. Vucic and Kurti would have shown responsible behavior.

“This agreement is intended primarily for the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia,” Borrell said. Among other things, it provides that people can move freely between Kosovo and Serbia with their passports, ID cards and number plates. It could open up new economic opportunities and entail further investments in Kosovo and Serbia. It will also promote trade, since the certificates that were previously required for imports and exports are no longer necessary. The rights of Serbs in Kosovo should be better protected.

Kosovo, now inhabited almost exclusively by Albanians, used to be part of Serbia. After an armed uprising by the Kosovar Albanians and massive human rights violations by the Serbian security forces, NATO reacted in spring 1999 with bombings in what was then the rest of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).

From 1999 to 2008, the UN administration UNMIK managed the area. In 2008 the country declared itself independent. To this day, Serbia has not recognized this step and is claiming the territory for itself. Diplomatic efforts by the West in recent years have not led to any significant normalization of the situation. Tensions had recently escalated again: there were road blockades and incidents of shooting. Germany and France presented a new mediation plan in the fall, which the EU later adopted.

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