European leaders seek de facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia

by Cristian Florescu

On October 27, leaders hailing from Germany, France, Italy, and prominent EU officials collectively called upon Serbia to undertake substantial measures towards the de facto recognition of Kosovo.

Furthermore, the joint statement issued by the office of French President Emmanuel Macron urged Pristina to progress with the implementation of the Association of Serbian Municipalities in the northern region of Kosovo.

The aforementioned declaration was released subsequent to distinct discussions held on October 26, within the framework of the EU summit in Brussels, where Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti engaged in separate dialogues with European dignitaries.

The European leaders’ recent call for de facto recognition signifies a significant change in their approach towards Belgrade’s position on Kosovo, as they had previously abstained from overtly urging Belgrade to acknowledge Kosovo.

“In order to make rapid progress on implementation, we call on Kosovo to initiate the process of establishing an association of Serbian-majority municipalities in Kosovo, in accordance with the provisions of the draft statute, and on Serbia for de facto recognition,” the joint statement said.

The draft statute on the Association proposed by the European leaders has been deemed to conform to the highest standards and practices of European governance. It presents a novel method to effectively tackle the pressing matter of safeguarding minority rights.

When restating their expectations, the leaders stressed the importance of both parties upholding their obligations to the agreement on the process of normalization without any prerequisites or excessive delays. They highlighted the significance of reciprocal actions towards advancement, emphasizing the requirement for collaborative endeavours from both sides in order to achieve concrete results.

The statement asserts that it is anticipated that Kosovo and Serbia to promptly reach an agreement on the specifics within the EU-facilitated dialogue. Failure to make progress in normalizing relations would pose a significant risk for both parties in terms of forfeiting crucial prospects.

During the EU summit in Brussels on October 26, Vucic and Kurti individually engaged in discussions with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Vucic and Kurti convened with the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell, European Council President Charles Michel, and EU special envoy for the dialogue Miroslav Lajcak. These deliberations marked a substantial endeavour to resolve the protracted conflict between Belgrade and Pristina, yet regrettably concluded without significant advancement.

Vucic restated Serbia’s position regarding enforcing past agreements while underscoring the country’s disapproval of Kosovo’s United Nations membership or its acknowledgement by Belgrade.

In contrast, Kurti asserted his readiness to collaboratively endorse the EU/US proposition of October 21, in conjunction with the Basic Agreement. Nevertheless, Kurti explained that despite his overture, Serbia declined to affix their signature to both the agreement and the draft of October 21. He emphasized that signing would ensure adherence and implementation of the agreements.

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