European leaders seek de facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia

European leaders seek de facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia
EU Council President Charles Michel meets Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti in Brussels. / European Union
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje October 29, 2023

Leaders from Germany, France, Italy, and key EU officials jointly urged Serbia on October 27 to take significant steps towards de facto recognition of Kosovo.

Additionally, they called on Pristina to move forward with the establishment of the Association of Serbian Municipalities in northern Kosovo, according to the joint statement published by the office of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The statement was issued following separate meetings held between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti with European leaders on October 26, held on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels.

This call for de facto recognition marks a notable shift in European leaders' approach towards Belgrade's stance on Kosovo, because until now, they had refrained from openly pressing Belgrade for recognition of Kosovo.

“In order to make rapid progress in implementation, we call on Kosovo to initiate the procedure for establishing the Association of Serbian-majority Municipalities in Kosovo, as provided for in the draft statute, and on Serbia to carry out de facto recognition,” the joint statement said.

The European leaders stated that the draft statute on the Association presented by the European leaders aligns with the best practices and standards of European governance, offering an innovative approach to addressing the critical issue of minority protection.

In reiterating their expectations, the leaders emphasised the need for both parties to honor their commitments to the agreement on the path to normalisation without preconditions or undue delays. They underscored the importance of mutual steps towards progress, emphasising that concerted efforts from both sides are necessary for tangible outcomes.

“We now expect Kosovo and Serbia to quickly agree on the details in the EU-facilitated dialogue. Without progress in normalizing relations, both sides risk losing important opportunities,” the statement said.

Vucic and Kurti held separate meetings with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on the margins of the EU summit in Brussels on October 26.

Vucic and Kurti also met the EU's High Representative Josep Borrell, European Council President Charles Michel and EU special envoy for the dialogue Miroslav Lajcak. The discussions represented a significant push towards overcoming the decades-long discord between Belgrade and Pristina, but ended without a major progress.

Vucic reiterated Serbia's stance on the implementation of all previous agreements, but emphasised the country's opposition to UN membership of Kosovo or its recognition by Belgrade.

On the other hand, Kurti said that he expressed his willingness to jointly sign the EU/US proposal of October 21, alongside the Basic Agreement. However, Kurti stated that despite his proposal, Serbia rejected to sign both the agreement and the October 21 draft. He pointed out that signing would guarantee commitment and execution of the agreements.


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