Despite positions that seem irreconcilable, Josep Borrell will try again to bring Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic closer together 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 head of EU diplomacy hopes to get them to sign a peace plan, a month after the failure of talks in Brussels.
The European document, which has 11 articles, stipulates that the two parties will “mutually recognize their respective national documents and symbols” and that they will not use violence to resolve their differences. The text also provides that “Serbia will not oppose Kosovo’s membership of an international organization”. It also proposes granting “an appropriate level of self-government” for the Serb minority in Kosovo.
A Serbian signing might not change anything
But Serbia still refuses to recognize the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province, whose population of 1.8 million inhabitants, overwhelmingly of Albanian origin, includes a Serbian community of around 120,000 people. Since the war, which ended in 1999 with NATO bombings, relations between Pristina and Belgrade have gone from crisis to crisis. After the talks in Brussels, Aleksandar Vucic vowed never to recognize Kosovo, adding that he had no intention of helping Pristina enter the United Nations.
The Serbian president again warned a few days before the meeting in Ohrid that he “did not intend to sign anything”. The meeting “will be neither historic nor revolutionary,” he said. The Kosovar Prime Minister for his part 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 signing would not necessarily be synonymous with immediate success. “I expect both sides to accept the project,” stresses Dusan Milenkovic, from the Center for Social Dialogue and Regional Initiative in Belgrade. “I can’t say it will be heavy, because the heavy will only happen when the project has been implemented”. Most of the previous agreements concluded under the aegis of Brussels have remained a dead letter. Albin Kurti hopes that a pact will allow Kosovo to enter the UN and international institutions, a crucial demand for Pristina.