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Serbia, Kosovo agree on how to implement EU plan

OHRID, NORTH MACEDONIA (AP) – The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo have tentatively agreed on how to implement a European Union (EU)-sponsored plan to normalise their relations after decades of tensions between the two Balkan wartime foes, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday after chairing talks between them.

Speaking at a news conference after nearly 12 hours of talks in the North Macedonian lakeside resort of Ohrid, Borrell told reporters that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti “have reached an agreement on how to do it”.

They agreed last month to the wording of an 11-point EU plan to normalise relations following the neighbours’ 1998-1999 war and Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.

“Objective today was to agree on how to implement the agreement accepted in the last high-level meeting,” Borrell said.

Both countries hope to join the EU one day, and they have been told they must first mend their relations.

People hold a banner reading: ‘No to capitulation’ as they march during a protest against the Serbian authorities and French-German plan for the resolution of Kosovo in Belgrade, Serbia. PHOTO: AP

The agreement, drafted by France and Germany and supported by the United States (US), doesn’t explicitly call for mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia.

Although tentatively agreeing on the EU plan reached last month, Serbia’s populist President Vucic seemed to backtrack on some of its points after pressure from far-right groups, which consider Kosovo the cradle of the Serbian state and Orthodox religion.

Vucic said on Thursday that he “won’t sign anything” at the Ohrid meeting and earlier pledged never to recognise Kosovo or allow its United Nations (UN) membership.

“Today wasn’t any kind of a D-day, but it was a good day. In the months ahead, we are facing serious and difficult tasks,” Vucic said.

On the other hand, Kurti complained that Vucic did not sign the implementation deal on Saturday.

“Now it is up to the EU to make it internationally binding,” Kurti said.