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Serbia, Kosovo leaders in EU-backed talks to normalize ties

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo meet in Brussels on Tuesday to proceed talks on the implementation of a European Union-backed 11-point plan to normalize ties between the 2, however tensions proceed to simmer.

EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell will convene the high-level assembly between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti. They’re anticipated to endorse a declaration on lacking individuals and likewise focus on the primary draft statute on the creation of an affiliation of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo — two delicate points for the previous struggle foes.

The assembly follows one in February when each leaders gave tacit approval to the EU-sponsored plan to finish months of political crises, and a March summit in North Macedonia the place Belgrade and Pristina tentatively agreed on how you can implement the plan.

Miroslav Lajcak, Borrell’s envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations, stated Tuesday’s assembly is “a vital step ahead and it’s necessary to keep away from any actions that would worsen the ambiance.”

Few of the agreements reached between the 2 nations within the 12-year-long EU-facilitated negotiations have been utilized. Brussels and the US typically intervene to settle down tense conditions between Belgrade and Pristina, extra so prior to now yr for the reason that Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Belgrade insists Pristina should implement a 2013 settlement to ascertain an affiliation of the municipalities within the north of Kosovo which have a Serb-majority inhabitants. It might coordinate work on training, well being care, land planning and financial growth on the native stage. Kosovo’s Constitutional Courtroom later declared the plan unconstitutional, ruling it wasn’t inclusive of different ethnicities and will entail the usage of govt powers.

Serbia says no progress is feasible within the talks earlier than the affiliation is tackled. International Minister Ivica Dacic stated Kosovo will attempt to keep away from any motion on the subject.

“We heard the identical 10 years in the past. Everybody was thrilled that it was a historic act. Ten years handed and the affiliation of Serb municipalities didn’t occur,” stated Dacic.

Native elections have been held final month in Serb-dominated communes in northern Kosovo after Serb representatives had left their posts final yr. The vote was overwhelmingly boycotted by ethnic Serbs.

Vucic praised the vote boycott and sharply criticized Western officers, calling them liars and frauds. He stated the Serb minority within the former Serbian province will not tolerate international “occupation.”

The talks will even sort out the problem of the greater than 1,600 folks nonetheless formally lacking for the reason that 1998-99 struggle. Kosovo accuses Serbia of hiding their places.

The EU rule of regulation mission in Kosovo, or EULEX, says it’s tough to seek out the our bodies as many have been buried in small, unmarked graves and even in cemeteries, in an effort by the perpetrators to make the seek for the lacking harder and to cover proof. Many of the lacking are ethnic Albanians, whereas just a few are Serbs.

“The worldwide neighborhood will strain each Prime Minister Kurti and President Vucic to proceed with a constructive strategy, as a result of that’s the solely method ahead,” stated Kosovar analyst Artan Muhaxheri.

Kosovo is a former Serbian province. The 1998-1999 struggle in Kosovo with a majority ethnic Albanian erupted when separatist ethnic Albanians rebelled in opposition to Serbia’s rule, and Belgrade responded with a brutal crackdown. About 13,000 folks died, largely ethnic Albanians. In 1999 a NATO army intervention pressured Serbia to drag out of the territory. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which isn’t acknowledged by Serbia.


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania; Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade. ___ Observe Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini

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