Amidst escalating tensions, EU leaders met with Kosovo and Serbia. Concerns grow as Serbia aligns with Moscow, undertakes aggressive actions against Kosovo, and evades accountability, challenging EU.
In a pivotal meeting on the sidelines of the European Council on 26 October, top EU leaders and representatives congregated with the heads of Kosovo and Serbia to propel forward the long-standing dialogue on normalising relations between the two Balkan states.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italy’s President of the Council of Ministers Giorgia Meloni were present alongside key EU officials including European Council President Charles Michel, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the EU’s Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak. They met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
The leaders lauded the commitment demonstrated by both Kosovo and Serbia during their discussions in Brussels. They highlighted the joint acknowledgment by Vucic and Kurti towards the European Statute for the establishment of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities in Kosovo. The drafted statute, which has the full backing of the EU leaders, offers a contemporary European approach to minority protection, aligning with the finest European practices.
The EU representatives emphasized their anticipation for both parties to promptly uphold their obligations under the Agreement on the Path to Normalisation. They advocated for a mutual, stepwise approach, underscoring the principle that mutual concessions are essential for progress. “Both Parties need to do something to get something,” the statement read, urging a focus on implementing the Agreement devoid of any preconditions or delays.
The EU leaders further called on Kosovo to initiate the establishment of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities in accordance with the draft Statute. Simultaneously, they urged Serbia to move forward with de-facto recognition. The statement underscored the necessity for both nations to sideline formalities that could hinder progress.
The statement stressed the imperative for both Kosovo and Serbia to rapidly finalize details under the EU-facilitated Dialogue, warning that failure to progress on normalising relations could see both nations miss out on pivotal opportunities.
EU Leaders Press Kosovo and Serbia on Normalisation Amidst Tensions
While the EU leaders lauded the commitment demonstrated by both states during the Brussels discussions, Serbia’s reluctance to sign the latest agreements with Kosovo have added layers of complexity. In Sept 2022, Serbia formalised its alignment with the Kremlin, raising eyebrows in Brussels and further intensifying the geopolitical stakes, since then Serbia is the source of inter-ethnic tensions not just in Kosovo, but also in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
Disturbing reports have have shown Serbia’s continuous aggressive actions against Kosovo. These include the provisioning of arms to local Kosovar Serbs with intentions to trigger an armed conflict, the injuring of over 90 NATO peacekeepers in skirmishes near Leposavic, the abduction of two Kosovan border guards, and the dispatch of over 100 heavily-armed Russian-styled “green men” to a monastery in Banjska, resulting in the tragic death of a Kosovar police officer. Despite Kosovo’s efforts in countering these actions, the EU has paradoxically imposed measures against it, accusing it of escalating the situation. This has led to growing criticism, with many observers suggesting the EU has been lenient with Serbia, thereby allowing it to escape accountability.
The pressing question remains: how will the EU leadership respond to Serbia’s continual aggression and its adoption of Russian-styled tactics? The situation demands urgent attention and a balanced approach to ensure peace and stability in the region.
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