EU concerned about situation in Kosovo’s north after Vucic, Kurti meeting

EU concerned about situation in Kosovo’s north after Vucic, Kurti meeting
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (left) and Kosovo’s PM Albin Kurti (right) at a meeting in February alongside EU High Representative Josep Borrell and EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak.
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje May 3, 2023

The European Union has expressed concerns about the situation in northern Kosovo, populated mainly with ethnic Serbs, after the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo failed to reach agreement on returning of Serbs to Kosovo institutions, EU High Commissioner Josep Borrell said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo PM Albin Kurti met in Brussels on May 2 for the first time since they met in Ohrid, North Macedonia on March 18, where they agreed to implement the agreement that will lead to normalisation of their relations.

During the latest meeting they agreed to work together to locate people who went missing during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo, but made no progress on other issues, such as the establishment of the Association of Serbian Community (ASM) and the return of Serbs to Kosovan institutions following the boycotted by-elections on April 23.

“It is clear that these elections do not offer a long-term political solution and have the potential to escalate the situation, undermining the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement,” Borrell said on May 2.

He urged both parties to find a solution that enables Kosovo Serbs to return to the institutions they left in November last year to avoid any risk of escalation.

"But regrettably, the leaders were unable to reach any agreement today. And I am afraid that we will be facing, maybe, I hope not, a critical situation. Talks need to continue soon," Borrell said.

Regarding the formation of the Association of Serbian Municipalities, Borrell recalled that this an obligation stemming from previous agreement from ten years ago.

He said that the Management Team comprised of Kosovo Serbs presented the first draft for the Association of Serbian Communities which is in line with the Article 7 of the new Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

"Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti shared his own views for the protection of rights of the Serb community in Kosovo. And as expected, the views of the parties are far apart on the nature of this Association/Community," Borrell said.

Vucic stated that at the moment, he does not see a solution when it comes to the formation of the ASM.

He hopes that some answers could be found in the coming period. "Otherwise, the situation would be very bad and difficult," Vucic said.

The president of Serbia assessed that, if Pristina does not agree to implement the Brussels agreements from 2013 and 2015, then there is no point in continuing the negotiations.

In the meantime, the US special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, stated that the implementation of the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina for the normalisation of relations should begin with the Association of Serbian Municipalities.

Escobar expects that within two weeks, there will be a new meeting between the chief negotiators of Belgrade and Pristina, Petar Petkovic and Besnik Bislimi.