Serbia and Kosovo have come close to settling their relations, according to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. "We have a deal," declared the top diplomat late Saturday evening after twelve-hour marathon negotiations in the North Macedonian Ohrid on the lake of the same name.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, mediated by Borrell, reached a far-reaching agreement on the implementation of an agreement that is intended to put relations between the two hostile Balkan countries on a new footing.

Serbia should take note of Kosovo's statehood

At the same time, however, the two sides did not follow the "more ambitious ideas" of the EU mediators, Borrell told the media in Ohrid. He did not address the differences in content. They will continue to work on it "until a comprehensive agreement is reached," he added.

Kosovo, now inhabited almost exclusively by Albanians, seceded from Serbia in 1999 with NATO help and declared independence in 2008. Serbia still does not recognise this.

The new agreement stipulates that Belgrade will not recognise Kosovo under international law, but will take note of the statehood of its former province. In particular, it is to recognise Kosovo's passports, vehicle registration plates and customs documents, which it has not done to this day. Kosovo, in turn, should institutionally secure the rights of the Serb ethnic group in the country.

At a first meeting on 27 February, both sides verbally agreed to the draft agreement presented by the EU on the basis of a german-French proposal. On Saturday, the two sides reached a broad agreement on the specific deadlines and dates set out in the annex to implement the individual points of the agreement.