Serbia and Kosovo resume dialogue in Brussels but no progress on tuition fees dispute

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti resumed Thursday the dialogue facilitated by the European Union to normalize their relationship, in a meeting that has not served to unblock the dispute over license plates and documentation issued by the Kosovar authorities, the source of tension this summer in northern Kosovo.

“Unfortunately we did not reach an agreement today. I am sorry. But it is not the end of the story. Both leaders have agreed that the process should continue and the discussion will resume in the coming days,” EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell said at a press conference after the meeting in which he acted as a facilitator between Belgrade and Pristina.

In any case, the head of EU diplomacy has assured that he “does not throw in the towel” and has shown his determination to continue discussions to find an “intelligent” solution to the situation, pointing out that “there is a deadline” until September 1, when the controversial Kosovar law will come back into force.

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European sources confirm to Europa Press that the talks between Vucic and Kurti will continue in the coming days in Brussels with the mediation of Miroslav Lajcak, the EU special envoy for the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

The meeting was marked by the blockades of border crossings by the Serbian community in protest against the application of a law — already postponed for a month — by which people from Serbia entering Kosovo would have to hand over their identity documents, which would be replaced by others issued in Pristina.

According to Borrell, Thursday’s meeting was not just another meeting in the framework of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina facilitated by the EU, as it comes at a “dramatic and dangerous moment for Europe”, in the middle of the war in Ukraine, and he has conveyed to Vucic and Kurti that they are responsible for alleviating the crisis, after stating that “it is not the time to increase tensions, but to find solutions and solve entrenched problems”.

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This was the first face-to-face meeting between Vucic and Kurti in Brussels in over a year, despite the fact that the EU perceives the normalization of relations between Serbia and its former province as a key element for the EU membership of both and for forging long-term political and economic stability in the entire Balkan region.

In this regard, the High Representative has stressed that the European path of Belgrade and Pristina should be the ultimate goal of both leaders. For that, “they have to find a way forward on the path” and “the first step is to resolve the current situation,” he said in relation to the tuition crisis.

The talks between Serbs and Kosovars in Brussels have gone through different phases without reaching any major agreement since they started more than a decade ago. During this period there have been periods of up to a year and a half without meetings due to the political uncertainty in the region.

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