Kurti said that during the meetings, Vucic had refused to sign their February agreement as well as an action plan for making that deal work…reports Asian Lite News
The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo have refused to compromise at a fresh round of meetings meant to improve their bitter relations and they continue to jeopardize their chances of joining the European Union, the bloc’s top diplomat said Thursday.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who has been supervising the “Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue” process, said that negotiators had presented “a serious and balanced proposal” to overcome one of the main hurdles to putting their plan on normalizing ties into action.
“Unhappily, the parties were not ready to agree on that without preconditions,” Borrell said, and each side’s preconditions “were unacceptable (to) the other party.”
He insisted that respecting their pledges in the dialogue “is the only way for them to advance onto the European path” toward membership. Both countries have said they want to join the 27-nation bloc.
Despite the leaders of France, Germany and Italy weighing in, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic began trading blame for the lack of progress immediately after the talks in Brussels, much as they have done for months.
Thursday’s talks were chiefly aimed at putting into action an agreement that Vucic and Kurti reached in February, although the two have since raised issues with it. The idea was to work on new “proposals and ideas” floated in exploratory talks last weekend.
But Vucic and Kurti deeply distrust each other, and they are proving difficult for the EU to deal with.
Kurti said that during the meetings, Vucic had refused to sign their February agreement as well as an action plan for making that deal work.
“Acceptance entails a signature; only a signature entails acceptance and guarantees implementation,” Kurti said in a statement.
Vucic dismissed that claim as “tricks,” saying “there was no question of signing or not signing.”
“Someone is playing games to shift the blame on the other side,” he said.
The meetings in Brussels took place on the sidelines of an EU summit. Fears are high of a resumption of the violence that has marked their relations since Kosovo unilaterally broke away from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade still considers Kosovo a Serbian province and has never recognized its independence.
Vucic insisted Thursday “that Serbia can’t accept membership in the U.N. or independence for Kosovo.”
The new European effort to breathe life into the talks came after a major gun battle on Sept. 24, when about 30 Serb gunmen crossed into northern Kosovo, killed a police officer and set up barricades. Three gunmen were killed in the shootout with Kosovo police.
Kurti said that those who carried out the attack, notably their leader Milan Radoicic, had fled back into Serbia and should be extradited to Kosovo for trial. He said the trial would be fair because the EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo could monitor it.
Radoicic was briefly detained, questioned and released in Serbia earlier this month.