Serbian and Kosovar leadership to meet at White House

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti are slated to meet in Washington for peace talks today.

Pompeo and Thaci

Photo: Lenin Nolly/Sipa USA

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti are slated to meet in Washington for peace talks today.

The meeting—postponed in June following the indictment of Kosovar President Hashim Thaci for crimes against humanity—is set to position economic cooperation as a critical foundation for future agreements. The two Balkan nations are currently at an impasse over Kosovar independence, which Belgrade and Moscow reject despite recognition from more than 100 states. In June, Pristina removed heavy tariffs on Serbian imports in response to pressure from Washington and Brussels, paving the way for a normalisation of relations.

Progress on the “major projects” detailed by Hoti—which would likely focus on job creation and infrastructural development—could set both nations on a path to EU membership, as Brussels is eager to broker a dialogue and bring regional outsiders into the fold. However, the lingering roadblocks posed by Serbian energy and financial demands could push Belgrade away from the Euro-Atlantic scene and towards Russian and Chinese spheres of influence, given the rising pro-Russia sentiment within the Serbian electorate. Expect Belgrade’s categorical rejection of Kosovar sovereignty to be a deal-breaker, as Vucic has pledged to abandon talks if Hoti broaches the delicate subject of mutual recognition.

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