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Kosovo, Serbia leaders debate EU peace plan

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Leaders of Kosovo and Serbia meet under EU mediation in Ohrid, North Macedonia, on Saturday (18 March) to discuss the implementation of a deal on normalising ties agreed in principle last month, essential for their hopes of joining the EU.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti will sit down for talks chaired by the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, who oversaw their previous face-to-face meeting in Brussels last month where initial progress was made.

“An agreement is good, an implementation path is better – and this meeting that we agreed, which is going to take place tomorrow in Ohrid, in order to define the practical steps that have to be followed – in concrete timelines, what needs to be done, [by] when and how,” Borrell told reporters in Skopje on Friday.

The meeting will focus on how to fulfil an 11-point agreement the EU has put on the table designed to help draw a line under decades of enmity.

These latest talks follow months of shuttle diplomacy to push the EU plan that has been backed by the United States and all 27 EU member states.

Tensions between Serbia and its former province, whose 1.8 million people are mostly ethnic Albanian, are still high nearly 25 years after a war between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Serb government forces.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 with US and EU backing, but Serbia refuses to recognise it and the Serbian constitution considers Kosovo an integral part of its territory.

Bilateral ties need to be mended for Serbia and Kosovo to achieve their strategic goal of joining the EU. In recent years, clashes flared up between local authorities and Kosovo’s Serb minority.

Saturday’s meeting follows talks in Brussels last month where the two sides moved closer to a deal by giving their tacit approval to the EU-brokered peace plan but fell short of deciding on an annexe, which is meant to spell out steps to implement the final deal.

Source: euractiv

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