Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo blame each other for failed talks in Brussels

Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo blame each other for failed talks in Brussels
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje July 19, 2021

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic held a tense meeting with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels on July 19 as part of the EU-mediated normalisation dialogue, with each side blaming each other for the failed talks.

Belgrade and Pristina have been engaged in an EU-mediated dialogue on the normalisation of their relations — required for either country to process towards EU accession — since 2011. The dialogue process stalled due to the February general election in Kosovo. Kurti’s left-wing nationalist Vetevendosje party, which won the election, is strongly against compromise with Serbia. 

This was the second Vucic-Kurti meeting in the framework of the normalisation dialogue. They held their first meeting in Brussels on June 15, but failed to make any progress. 

Vucic described the latest meeting with Kurti as even worse than the previous one in June.

“The meeting was difficult and it demonstrated very different approaches of the two parties to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. As a consequence, we achieved very little progress today,” EU special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, Miroslav Lajcak, said in a statement following the meeting.

Lajcak added that several concrete proposals were discussed, but the only outcome of the meeting is that the dialogue will continue.

“The parties agreed that their chief negotiators would hold meetings on a monthly basis, facilitated by the EU, to address current issues and to prepare high-level meetings, when appropriate,” Lajcak said.

Vucic and Kurti will meet again in September.

Lajcak reiterated that the European future for Serbia and Kosovo depends on the normalisation of their relations and that EU expect both parties to work together to overcome the legacy of the past and solve all outstanding issues between them.

President Vucic was cited by Serbian news agency Tanjug as saying that instead of speaking about current issues, Kurti accused Serbia of committing three genocides against Albanians, with the first genocide taking place in 1878, and the last one in 1999.

“We are talking to irrational people,” Vucic was cited by Tanjug, adding that Pristina authorities “obviously want an atmosphere in which Serbs will feel threatened”.

According to Kosovan broadcaster RTK, Kurti proposed a six-point agreement, as a declaration of peace, but that it was ignored.

"It was rejected before it was read, which shows they are unwilling to reach an agreement," Kurti was cited as saying.

Vucic denied Kurti’s claims, adding that Serbia accepted three EU proposals without any changes, which were not accepted by the Kosovan side.

Vucic said that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on technical issues will continue at the end of August.

“But all this means nothing if we cannot agree on one sentence — that both sides will refrain from provocative actions,” Vucic underlined, adding that it would have been better if the two politicians had not seen each other.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, following a war in 1998-99, which ended with Nato strikes on Serbia, but it is not recognised as a separate country.