Kurti has hope ahead of critical Kosovo-Serbia-EU meeting 

by Cristian Florescu

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti spoke about Serbian President Aleksander Vucic’s reluctance to sign an agreement but expressed hope for the upcoming talks. The meeting between Kosovo and Serbia is EU-backed and will take place on 18 March in Ohrid, North Macedonia.

Although the EU and US said that they had reached an agreement verbally in Brussels at the end of February, Vucic soon thereafter said that he would not sign the deal in front of a domestic audience.

Kurti published a video message over the weekend where he said mutual recognition is the only way to achieve normalisation of relations.

“We believe that the basic agreement between Kosovo and Serbia constitutes the advancement towards mutual recognition between the two states. We believe that the full normalisation of relations requires such recognition as the central point of the agreement,” he said.

He added, “At the trilateral meeting in Brussels on February 27, I offered to sign the basic agreement on behalf of the Republic of Kosovo. Unfortunately, the president of Serbia refused. He made the refusal public after leaving the meeting,” adding he hopes this does not mean Vucic disagrees with the content.

In a subsequent interview with Euronews, Kurti said that he does, however, remain hopeful.

“This basic treaty, which has been proposed by the 27 countries of the EU, is the basis for moving forward, and we hope to finally reach it on March 18″, said Kurti.

He noted the “unprecedented economic and democratic progress” of Kosovo in the last two years, adding it is leading the way in these areas in the entire Western Balkans.

Kurti also said there are positive signs the country will be accepted to join the Strasbourg-based human rights organisation, the Council of Europe.

“The vast majority of the members of the Council of Europe are positive regarding Kosovo’s application, and I hope that we will now speed up the procedures to have the final vote there, to join the Council of Europe. For us it is very important because it would be more useful for the citizens themselves”, he said.

Also, over the weekend, President Vjosa Osmani met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to discuss the dialogue with Serbia. While Greece does not recognise Kosovo’s sovereignty, a press release from the president’s office after the meeting suggested Greek support for the agreement and ongoing stability in the region.

“Regarding the recent developments in the dialogue process with Serbia, President Osmani has emphasised that the implementation plan of the agreement must be in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic, which will contribute to long-term peace and stability in the region, as long as reiterated that the coordination of Kosovo with allies in this process will continue”, the announcement states.

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