Deal between Serbia and Kosovo reached
Yet Belgrade is calling the EU-US-sponsored negotiations "very unsuccessful, terribly difficult."
Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement on "freedom of movement" following weeks of tensions, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Saturday. He announced the deal between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo's prime minister Albin Kurti.
In a statement following their meeting last week in Brussels and "intense follow-up efforts in Pristina and Belgrade," Borrell revealed that Serbia and Kosovo both agreed to forgo the introduction of entrance and exit documents for holders of Kosovo IDs.
Both Serbs and Kosovo residents living in the northern part of the breakaway province will be able to freely move between Serbia and Kosovo using their existing ID cards, said the statement, adding that the EU had "received guarantees from Prime Minister Kurti."
Borrell then praised the development by saying that “we found a European solution that facilitates travel between Kosovo and Serbia.” He also lauded Vucic’s actions by saying that the Serbian president “showed responsibility and leadership today.” The senior EU diplomat also thanked the US “for their support to the EU-facilitated dialogue,” calling it “an example of excellent practical EU-US cooperation.”
He admitted that “the problem with the license plates” had not yet been resolved and called on the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to “continue showing pragmatism and constructiveness” in this regard as well. Still, he said that “today is a very good day.”
Yet Belgrade didn't seem to be feeling as happy as Brussels. Vucic described the negotiations with "Albanians from Kosovo" as "very unsuccessful, terribly difficult," adding that "in the end we came to the point that we do not agree on anything." Vucic was speaking to Serbian citizens on Saturday.
Mutual recognition is off the table
The Serbian leader insisted that “mutual recognition” will never be on the agenda as Belgrade “cannot forget that Kosovo is part of Serbia.” He also said that officials in Brussels are wasting their time and money if they think they would be able to facilitate such an agreement.
When it comes to travel, Vucic did confirm that Serbia will recognize the IDs from Kosovo, but only "for practical reasons" in order to "enable freedom of movement". This action "cannot be interpreted as recognition of Kosovo's unilateral proclamation of independence, nor does it prejudice sovereignty," he continued.
What is important is that “Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija can move and enter and leave the territory of Kosovo and Metohija freely,” Vucic said, adding that Belgrade is asking “for guarantees from EU, we ask that every Serb from the north of Kosovo and Metohija can enter the territory of Kosovo and Metohija with Serbian documents, and that they can leave whenever they want.”
The news broke a day after Gabriel Escobar, the US envoy for the Balkans, urged Serbia to recognize Kosovo and offered the two countries prosperity in the EU as a substitute. In response, Vucic stated that he was not shocked to get such a request from a US envoy.
“Don’t forget that he represents American politics. What do you expect from him, what news is this for you?!” the Serbian president said on Saturday, adding that “they [the US] tell us this for 23 years!”