Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed parliament on Thursday about the details of a meeting he had with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic last week, saying he had received guarantees from the EU and the US to implement the deal normalizing bilateral relations. of the two states.
Although nothing was signed during the meeting in Ohrid, North Macedonia, the EU announced that the annex to the deal had been agreed.
Kurti underlined that there will be mutual recognition of all government documents and symbols, including passports, diplomas, driving licenses and customs stamps. The two countries will also exchange permanent missions and de facto embassies, but with a different name. The implementation of the above was guaranteed, he added.
“Serbia has accepted all of the above, this is, of course, a de facto recognition that has been established in written form and in irreversible status, because the European Union and the United States of America are guarantors of its temporal permanence. All these obligations are in effect. Partner states will receive a boost in their respective EU accession process and financial support,” he announced in parliament.
Belgrade and Pristina have been in EU-backed talks since 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence in 2008, following the 1998-1999 Kosovo-Serbia war.
However, Serbia still regards Kosovo as a breakaway province, and flare-ups between the Balkan neighbors over the past few years, most notably in 2022, have heightened fears of a return to conflict.
Saturday’s (March 18) deal came after 12 hours of talks between Kurti-Vucic and EU officials to implement the deal, which the two sides had only verbally agreed to in Brussels last month.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell said Kosovo lacked flexibility on substance, while the Serbian side refused to sign the document, although Belgrade had claimed it was “fully ready to implement it”.
He also added that the EU will now require both sides to fulfill their obligations if they want to become member states, warning of consequences if they do not comply.
February’s 11-point plan states that Serbia and Kosovo must develop normal good-neighborly relations and respect each other’s independence and territorial integrity. The annex provides more details on the provisions, including the provision for the establishment of a joint monitoring committee chaired by the EU.
Kurti called the agreement and its annex a “powerful weapon” that should be used in the best possible way for Kosovo.
“Now we have a new document in our hands and we need to make the most of it. We have a new document that was not previously available. It is a powerful weapon to move forward. With the previous documents we got stuck, with this document we can move forward,” he said in front of the national delegation.
Kurti warned, however, that the road to normalization of relations, which he said actually translates into recognition, will not be easy, as Vucic will do everything possible to circumvent the deal.
“We have in writing that Serbia agrees that sectarianism will continue until full normalization, ie recognition. “There is no international, European or American official who does not say that full normalization means mutual recognition,” Kurti said.
“I don’t expect an easy road, we have to be careful and alert as there will be many pitfalls. “Serbia will do everything possible, even openly discredit the agreement, cancel and interpret what was agreed,” he added.
A few hours after the end of last weekend’s meeting, Vucic told Serbian media that he has not signed and will not sign any deal now or in the next four years because “his arm hurts.”