Despite positions that seem irreconcilable, Josep Borrell will try again to bring Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic closer this Saturday, on the shores of Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia. More than two decades after a deadly war between Kosovar independence rebels and Serbian forces, the EU's foreign policy chief hopes to get them to sign a peace plan, a month after talks in Brussels collapsed.
The 11-article EU document states that both sides will "mutually recognise each other's national documents and symbols" and will not use violence to resolve their differences. The text also provides that "Serbia will not oppose Kosovo's membership of an international organisation". It also proposes to grant "an appropriate level of self-government" for Kosovo's Serb minority.
A Serbian signature may not change anything
But Serbia still refuses to recognise the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province, whose population of 1.8 million, mostly of Albanian origin, includes a Serb community of around 120,000 people. Since the war, which ended in 1999 with NATO bombing, relations between Pristina and Belgrade have been going from crisis to crisis. After the Brussels talks, Vucic vowed never to recognise Kosovo, adding that he had no intention of helping Pristina join the United Nations.
The Serbian president also warned a few days before the Ohrid meeting that he "had no intention of signing anything". The meeting "will be neither historic nor revolutionary," he said. The Kosovar Prime Minister said he was optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement, adding, however, that the responsibility for a signature lay with the Serbian side.
Analysts point out that a possible signature would not necessarily mean immediate success. "I expect both sides to accept the project," said Dusan Milenkovic of the Centre for Social Dialogue and Regional Initiative in Belgrade. "I can't say it's going to be heavy, because heavy will only happen when the project has been implemented." Most of the previous agreements reached under the aegis of Brussels have remained unheeded. Albin Kurti hopes that a pact will allow Kosovo to enter the UN and international institutions, a crucial demand for Pristina.
- European Union (EU)