Kosovar and Serbian leaders to restart bilateral dialogue in Brussels

Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic will restart dialogue today in Brussels on the normalisation of

Kosovar PM Avdullah Hati and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic

Photo: Armend Nimani, Andrej Isakovic, AFP

Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic will restart dialogue today in Brussels on the normalisation of relations between their two countries.

Bilateral talks were suspended in November 2018 after Kosovo imposed a 100% tariff on imported products of Serbian and Bosnian origin. On June 6, bowing to demands from the US and EU, Kosovo agreed to remove tariffs on Serbian imports, paving the way to restart negotiations with the two countries.

EU officials seek to reach a comprehensive agreement that would allow Serbia and Kosovo to become EU members. Serbia, which was granted candidate status in 2012, still needs to make significant progress in addressing corruption and weak democratic processes. More importantly, since Brussels will not accept new members with outstanding border disputes, the EU has hoped to leverage Serbia’s longstanding interest in joining to push for a peaceful bilateral solution. But as Serbia seeks closer relations with Russia and China, the prospect of EU membership has lost its attractiveness, worrying EU officials. Furthermore, Vucic has indicated that EU membership alone was not enough of an incentive to recognise Kosovo, and has listed demands regarding energy, finances, and the status of the Kosovar Serb population.

Vucic has expressed cautious optimism for negotiations, but it is more likely that neither Serbia nor Kosovo will be willing to make enough concessions for a ground-breaking deal.

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