Serbia and Kosovo hail ‘landmark’ agreements
Serbia and Kosovo voiced satisfaction Wednesday with an EUbrokered deal that marked a major step forward in normalizing ties between the former foes, and boosted hopes of faster accession to the European Union.
“We have gained more than we hoped for,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told national broadcaster RTS of Tuesday’s agreement, which was mediated in Brussels.
His Kosovo counterpart Isa Mustafa said the agreement was considered “a great success, a success that will allow full sovereignty over the territory of Kosovo, including the north” where ethnic Serbs make up the majority.
Some 120,000 ethnic Serbs live in impoverished Kosovo, where 90 percent of the 1.8 million population are ethnic Albanians.
A key part of the deal is a plan to create an association of Serb-run municipalities within Kosovo, allowing for greater autonomy, as well as a judiciary in the north that would be acceptable for both ethnic groups.
In their talks the two sides also struck deals on the issues of energy, telecommunications and the Mitrovica bridge, which divides the northern city along ethnic lines and has been a flashpoint area since the end of the 1998-1999 war.
Serbia and Kosovo have had difficult relations ever since the conflict, which ended after Serbian forces withdrew from the territory following an 11-week NATO
Road to EU Accession
In 2013 Pristina and Belgrade signed an EU-brokered agreement to normalize ties which enabled Belgrade to start EU accession talks a year later.
But no chapters in negotiations subsequently opened as the process of improving relations stalled, mostly due to early legislative elections in Serbia in March last year, and three months later in Kosovo.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who brokered the talks, said the deal “represents landmark achievements in the normalization process,” while Vucic said he now saw “no more obstacles” to starting negotiations over Serbia’s EU accession.