The USA and the EU are waiting for results from Saturday’s Kosovo-Serbia meeting
American Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the head of the European Union’s Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, said on Friday that it is the right time for Kosovo and Serbia to take significant steps in the interest of Western integration.
These comments were made during a telephone conversation in which, according to US State Department spokesman Ned Price, the two senior officials discussed their strong support for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, ahead of the leaders’ meeting in Ohrid, North Macedonia.
The European Union said that Mr. Borrell informed Secretary Blinken about the latest developments in the process of normalizing Kosovo-Serbia relations, and expectations from the Ohrid meeting. Mr. Borrell said he appreciates the US support for the mediation efforts of the European Union.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who last month said yes to a plan supported by the United States, will discuss on Saturday the ways and pace of its implementation to turn it into an agreement intermediate for the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The plan does not envisage mutual recognition, but requires the parties to respect each other’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
It also included the request for the implementation of all the agreements reached in the talks so far mediated by the European Union, including the one for the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority in Kosovo, which is the most pressing issue of the talks.
Western diplomats hold out hope for progress at Saturday’s meeting, while analysts say cautious optimism is needed.
Publicist Veton Surroi said on Friday in a debate at the Atlantic Council that the turning point happened on February 27 when the parties agreed to the European plan, while he described the process as difficult to move forward.
“The changes are big. I think that after ten years of mostly unproductive talks led by the European Union, we are in a period when the big powers inside the European Union and outside it have put the issues in a more serious perspective. This can be encouraging, but are we the solution – I’m not sure”, said Mr. Surroi.
Ivan Vejvoda from the Institute for Humanitarian Sciences said that if there is optimism he should be cautious.
“If the leaders of both countries are serious about their European future, then there will be an important step in this process,” said Mr. Vojvoda, underlining that the involvement of the United States and the European Union is greater than it could be. thought before the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The former American ambassador in Belgrade, Cameron Manter, said that developments in the world have created a new western approach to the issue.
“We have a new opportunity when there is a concentration due to developments in Ukraine that have sharpened minds in Washington and Brussels out of concern that the region could become part of a larger global problem,” he said.
Maja Pishcevic from the Atlantic Council said that the situation in Serbia is polarized around the European plan.
“There is an open competition as to who is more patriotic. Whether President Aleksandar Vucic is a patriot since he accepted the European plan, or those who would reject it at any price”, she said, underlining that expectations should be lowered from Saturday, but progress can be made.
It is not clear whether there will be any agreement in Saturday’s talks. The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said on the eve of the meeting that “the European proposal has been qualified and accepted by Kosovo as a good basis and a solid platform to move forward towards the full normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, with mutual recognition at the center. Dedicated, constructive and creative, the government delegation of Kosovo travels to Ohrid with good will, good intentions and good faith”.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday that he does not plan to sign anything at Saturday’s meeting and that he will not give up Serbia’s red lines against Kosovo, referring to his stance against the possibility of Kosovo joining the United Nations. United.
The European plan envisages that the parties do not hinder each other in the integration processes, which are conditioned by the normalization of relations between them.