Serbia, Kosovo moving closer to reconciliation

Prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo sign 'landmark' energy and telecommunications deal helping to repair ties between countries

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

EU foreign affairs and security policy chief Federica Mogherini and prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Isa Mustafa together in Brussels in June

Prime Minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister of Kosovo Isa Mustafa signed a “landmark" deal on energy and telecommunications on Tuesday in a meeting moderated by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Vucic and Mustafa previously met on June 29 but couldn't reach a final agreement on the deal, blaming each other for the failure.   

Talking to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), a source from the Serbian delegation claimed that Kosovo was blocking the agreement due to wanting everything in a single package.   

The outcome of the meeting provides great opportunities for restoring damaged ties between Serbia and its former southern province of Kosovo.

"Today's outcome represents landmark achievements in the normalisation process," said Mogherini in a statement shortly after the meeting.

"Solutions such as those found today bring concrete benefits to the people and at the same time enable the two sides to advance on their European path," she added.

Serb President Aleksandar Vucic was also hopeful that the deal would bring his country closer to EU membership, saying, "This is a big achievement for the whole of Serbia and it means there are no longer any obstacles, nothing stands on Serbia's way towards Europe."

According to the agreement that was reached on Tuesday, Kosovo will receive its own telephone code for the first time since the country declared its independence in 2008.

Regarding this as an illegal development Belgrade didn't recognise the sovereignty of the new country and immediately after Kosovo's declaration of independence sought for international support against it. In October 2008 Serbia requested an advisory opinion on the issue from the International Court of Justice,.

Recently Belgrade has begun to move towards recognising the sovereignty of Kosovo, which has an Albanian majority population.  

Besides reaching an agreement on telecommunications and energy, both sides also agreed on how to share the symbolic Mitrovica Bridge over the Ibar river dividing Kosovo's Albanian and Serb communities in the north.

The secession of Kosovo from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia followed the year-long Kosovo War which ended in 1999. Serbian troops were driven out by NATO forces after killing civilians of ethnic Albanian origin. The first agreement  to normalise the ties between two countries was signed under the mediation of the EU. The following year Serbia began accession talks with the EU.

The US State Department also released a statement praising both governments for their progress and "moving their countries closer to normalization of relations and along their respective EU paths."

TRTWorld and agencies