US Urges Kosovo to Accept EU proposal

The United States and the European Union have asked Kosovo and Serbia to accept the European proposal for the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Senior Advisor of the US State Department Derek Chollet has called on Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to accept the European Union proposal, initially known as the Franco-German proposal, for normalization of relations with Serbia.

After a conversation with Kurti, he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Spoke with PM Albin Kurti today to discuss the EU proposal on normalization of relations with Serbia and to urge Kosovo to accept it.  A key theme was our partnership and shared goal of advancing Kosovo’s European & Euro-Atlantic integration.”

Although it has not been officially revealed what the European Union proposal contains, Kosovo meantime faces pressure to establish an autonomous Association of Serbian-majority municipalities, an agreement signed in Brussels but which has not been implemented following a court ruling that it is not in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo.

The declaration comes amid intensified meetings of US and European diplomats both in Prishtina and Belgrade. 

The latest meeting, hosted by the US embassy in Pristina, will discuss the Association of the Serb-majority municipalities. Besides political leaders and government representatives, representatives of civil society and media will also attend,  the US embassy announced on January 31. 

Meanwhile, the EU special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, was expected to arrive in Prishtina on January 25, Radio Free Europe reports from sources in Brussels.

Last week, five international emissaries from the US and the EU visited Kosovo first and then Serbia.

The delegation consisted of the EU’s Lajcak, the advisors to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, Jens Plötner and Emmanuel Bonne, the diplomatic advisor of the Prime Minister of Italy, Francesco Maria Talò and the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar.

After the meeting with Kurti, Lajcak said that “the meeting was not easy, but it was very honest and open”. Lajcak said that the purpose of the meeting between Kurti and the five international emissaries was to discuss the European proposal.

“The purpose of this meeting with Prime Minister Kurti was to discuss the proposal for normalization that was presented to you in September and then in December. We spent more than two hours with the prime minister, which shows that the meeting was long, it was not easy, but it was very honest and open,” he said on January 20.

After the meeting, Kurti said that the European proposal was a good basis for further discussion.

“For more than two hours, the European proposal was discussed, which Prime Minister Kurti appreciates as a good basis for further discussion to move forward towards the full normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, with mutual recognition at the centre,” the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic also spoke about the EU proposal, but said it lacked concrete aspects. 

“They have come up with the new negotiation framework. This plan does not explicitly state [Serbian] recognition of Kosovo’s subjectivity but includes some responsibilities. The plan has arrived and has been presented before us for acceptance. We still don’t have anything concrete,” Vucic said on January 23.

The plan was first added to the dialogue process in October 2022, and in recent days has started to be called the proposal of the European Union.

The EU-led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia started in 2011.

The formation of an Association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo is one of the most controversial agreements in the EU-facilitated dialogue.

It was agreed to by both parties in the process, but has never been implemented, after the Kosovo Constitutional Court expressed serious reservations.

Detailing the competencies given to the association’s 10 Serb-majority municipalities, in the first version it was said that they would have full “supervision” of the areas of rural and urban planning, economic development, education and health.

It also stated that the Association would include the four northern Serb-majority municipalities that are not de facto not controlled by the Kosovo government, as well as Gracanica, Strpce, Novo Brdo, Kllokot, Ranilug and Partesh. Gracanica would act as the regional centre for the southern municipalities.

26/01/2023 - 14:06

26 January 2023 - 14:06

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.