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Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: The rocky road towards a comprehensive normalisation agreement

10-03-2021

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are key elements in the EU accession process for all western Balkan countries. Serbia and Kosovo have both declared their intention to join the EU. However, despite some initial successes, such as the Brussels Agreement of 2013, the dialogue facilitated by the EU and initiated in 2011 has stalled. In 2020, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was relaunched and supported by the international community. The appointment of United States (US) special presidential ...

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are key elements in the EU accession process for all western Balkan countries. Serbia and Kosovo have both declared their intention to join the EU. However, despite some initial successes, such as the Brussels Agreement of 2013, the dialogue facilitated by the EU and initiated in 2011 has stalled. In 2020, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was relaunched and supported by the international community. The appointment of United States (US) special presidential envoy Richard Grenell and special EU representative Miroslav Lajčák reflected the importance of the normalisation process. However, a lack of coordination and communication between the US and the EU means that no real progress has yet been made. The reasons for the very limited results are multiple, ranging from the internal political situation in both countries, to ambiguous and asymmetrical expectations of the normalisation agreement. Whereas for Kosovo the final goal is clear – recognition by Serbia of its statehood – for Serbia, normalisation of relations is interpreted in economic terms as an 'economic normalisation' and there is only limited space to go beyond those terms. Serbia also stresses that the process must remain within the framework defined by the Serbian Constitution, which considers Kosovo to be an integral part of the Serbian territory, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. Currently, the most sensitive issue, the setting-up of the association/community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo, agreed in 2013, shows that the challenges are rooted deeply in history and have a much broader regional context.

Serbia-Kosovo relations: Confrontation or normalisation?

12-02-2019

After fighting broke out between government forces and separatists, the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo was transferred to United Nations administration in 1999. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence. However, Belgrade continues to view its former province as Serbian territory. Over 100 countries, including 23 EU Member States, have recognised Kosovar independence, but full recognition and membership of most international organisations are still a long way off. Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to ...

After fighting broke out between government forces and separatists, the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo was transferred to United Nations administration in 1999. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence. However, Belgrade continues to view its former province as Serbian territory. Over 100 countries, including 23 EU Member States, have recognised Kosovar independence, but full recognition and membership of most international organisations are still a long way off. Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to EU membership – Serbia as a candidate country and Kosovo as a potential candidate. The EU insists that Serbia must normalise its relations with Kosovo before joining. Since 2011, with the help of EU mediation, the two neighbours have resolved some of the technical issues, but disagreements prevent normal day-to-day interaction between them in areas such as trade, energy supplies and cross-border travel. One of the main stumbling blocks is the situation of Kosovo's Serb minority. Around one in 12 Kosovars is an ethnic Serb, and nearly half of these are concentrated in the north. Despite efforts to integrate Serb-majority northern Kosovo into the rest of the country, Pristina still struggles to control the region. In 2013 and 2015, it agreed to establish an Association of Serb-majority Municipalities, but progress on this is now deadlocked. In 2018, the Kosovar and Serbian presidents floated the idea of a 'border correction', possibly involving the exchange of northern Kosovo for Albanian-majority Serbian districts. However, the proposal has been criticised by Germany, which fears that any territorial exchange risks sparking instability by calling into question other Western Balkan borders. There is also strong domestic opposition to the move in both Kosovo and Serbia. Despite growing pressure on both sides to finally reach a deal that could unlock the door to EU membership, relations remain tense and progress towards normalisation is currently at a standstill.

Plenary round-up – Brussels, November II 2018

30-11-2018

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward ...

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward for the World Trade Organization (WTO). A number of legislative reports were voted without debate, including on trade in goods that could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel treatment or punishment, the temporary reintroduction of border controls at the internal borders, and common rules for the operation of air services.

Kosovo: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Kosovo. The latest progress report notes that Kosovo has had limited success in bringing forward EU-related reforms. It calls on government and opposition to work together in order to implement them.

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Kosovo. The latest progress report notes that Kosovo has had limited success in bringing forward EU-related reforms. It calls on government and opposition to work together in order to implement them.