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Friday, December 1, 2023

Serbia and Kosovo leaders maintain long-awaited face-to-face talks because the EU seeks to dial down tensions

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BRUSSELS — The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo held a long-awaited face-to-face assembly on Thursday in talks aimed aimed toward bettering their strained relations as calls mount for a change within the Western diplomatic strategy towards them amid concern that their tensions may spiral uncontrolled.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti are in Brussels for talks underneath the so-called Belgrade-Pristina dialogue course of, supervised by European Union international coverage chief Josep Borrell.

The final spherical of the dialogue in June ended with out producing any apparent outcomes. Vučić and Kurti refused to satisfy in particular person, and Borrell, who held talks individually with each males, conceded that they’ve “completely different interpretations of the causes and likewise the details, penalties and options.”

In a put up on X, previously referred to as Twitter, Borrell wrote that it was time to start making use of the settlement on the trail towards normalization “in earnest. Right this moment, we’ll see if they’re able to take duty.” He additionally posted an image of the 2 males in the identical room with him.

Serbia and its former province of Kosovo have been at odds for many years. Their 1998-99 battle left greater than 10,000 folks {dead}, largely Kosovo Albanians. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 however Belgrade has refused to acknowledge the transfer.

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In Might, in a dispute over the validity of native elections within the Serbian a part of northern Kosovo, Serbs clashed with safety forces, together with NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers working there, injuring 93 troops.

Final week, KFOR commander Maj. Gen. Angelo Michele Ristuccia warned that his forces “reside a time-frame of fixed disaster administration.” He mentioned that tensions between Belgrade and Pristina are so excessive that even “probably the most insignificant occasion can create a state of affairs.”

In August, senior lawmakers from the USA — the opposite diplomatic energy within the course of — warned that negotiators aren’t placing sufficient strain on Vučić. They mentioned that the West’s present strategy exhibits a “lack of evenhandedness.”

Vučić, a former ultranationalist who now claims to wish to take Serbia into the EU, has maintained shut ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has refused to impose sanctions on Russia over its battle on Ukraine.

There are widespread fears within the West that Moscow may use Belgrade to reignite ethnic conflicts within the Balkans, which skilled a sequence of bloody conflicts within the Nineties in the course of the breakup of Yugoslavia, to attract world consideration away from the battle.

However on the similar time, Kurti — a long-time Kosovo independence activist who frolicked in prisons in each Serbia and Kosovo — has pissed off the Europeans and confirmed troublesome for negotiators to work with since he grew to become prime minister in 2021.

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