Vucic and Kurti end meeting without agreement but talks will continue

Vucic and Kurti end meeting without agreement but talks will continue
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (left) and Kosovo’s PM Albin Kurti (right) met in the presence of EU High Representative Josep Borrell and EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak. / Josep Borrell
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje February 27, 2023

The EU-mediated meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s PM Albin Kurti on February 27 in Brussels ended with no concrete agreement, but talks will continue.

The meeting was focused on the latest EU proposal on normalisation of relations between Serbia and its former province Kosovo, with high expectations that the 10-point plan, which so far was kept secret, will be accepted.

Nevertheless, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, who attended the meetings, said that Vucic and Kurti agreed that further discussions on the text of the EU proposal are not needed and that the text will soon be published on the EU's website.

Borrell stated that both parties agreed to start the implementation of the plan quickly, although more talks would be needed to discuss details.

In Brussels, Borrell and EU envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, Miroslav Lajcak, first held separate meetings with Vucic and Kurti and then a joint meeting was held.

President Vucic, who described the talks as difficult, said that the next meeting is expected to be held on March 18 in North Macedonia, when Borrell will visit the region.

Vucic said that during the meeting, he insisted on the establishment of the Association of Serbian Municipalities (ASM) in northern Kosovo, but Kurti was not ready to accept it.

Kurti fears the ASM, which is a priority for Serbia, could lead to the creation of a mini-state within Kosovo. He argues that Serbs in Kosovo enjoy sufficient rights.

“We will see if he will accept it in the future,” Vucic said. 

Vucic stated previously that there are ‘red lines’ for Serbia regarding the European proposal, which cannot be crossed. They are the recognition of Kosovo's independence and admission of Kosovo to the United Nations.

On the other hand, Kurti said following the meeting that he was ready to put his signature on the document, but that Vucic was not ready to sign it, RTK reported.

“Today we had a positive and constructive meeting in Brussels. This meeting was confirmation that the European proposal is acceptable and unchangeable,” Kurti said.

He added that there will be shuttle diplomacy in the next period with the next high-level meeting planned for the middle of next month. 

Borrell said that Vucic and Kurti have made progress and showed responsibility and willingness to find a solution.

“I will convene another meeting between the two leaders in the course of March with the aim to finalise the discussions on the Implementation Annex, which will guide the implementation phase of the Agreement,” Borrell tweeted.

He said that both parties were reminded of their obligations to implement all past agreements.

“Now that they have agreed on it, the text of the plan will be available to the public very soon. This plan is above all important for the people living in Serbia and Kosovo. According to the plan, citizens will be able to move freely, use their passports and documents, as well as car plates,” Borrell said.

Kurti said earlier that normalisation of relations with Serbia can be achieved only with mutual recognition.

For Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, the French-German plan is one of the best proposals.

EU officials warned that Pristina and Belgrade will have negative consequences if they say 'no' to the European proposal.

"Rejecting the proposal would mean rejecting a normalisation of relations and the European path, and the US, EU and the international community would react to this," Lajcak said earlier.

As the Serbian and Kosovan leaders met on February 27, a young artist from Pristina Ermira Murati reportedly received threats over a painting that depicts Vucic and Kurti in an embrace, kissing on the lips with their eyes closed.