The Serbian leader said he would not sign anything at the Kosovo talks

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić says he won’t sign anything during EU-brokered talks with Kosovo’s leader over the weekend

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said Thursday that he “will not sign anything” with the Kosovo leader in upcoming European Union-brokered talks aimed at easing decades of tension between the two Balkan wartime foes.

International officials hope to make progress on Saturday when Vučić meets with Prime Minister Albin Kurti of neighboring Kosovo in the North Macedonian lakeside resort of Ohrid.

Resolving the long-standing issue between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo has become increasingly important as the war in Ukraine rages and fears grow that Russia may try to stir up instability in the volatile region where it has historical influence.

Last month, Vucic and Kurti met in Brussels and reached a tentative agreement on an 11-point EU powerhouse to normalize relations between the two neighbors following the 1998-99 war and Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008.

But under pressure from increasingly vocal Serbian far-right groups, Vučić, the Serbian populist leader, backed down and vowed never to recognize Kosovo as an independent state or allow it to join the United Nations.

“If someone signs something, I will sign it and the people will decide on it,” Vucic told reporters on Thursday. “As for signing something (in Ohrid), I have no plans.”

According to EU and US mediators, the meeting in Ohrid will focus on how to implement the preliminary agreement, which requires the two countries to maintain good neighborly relations, recognize each other’s official documents and national symbols, and allow Belgrade to allow Pristina to join the EU. membership. and the UN

The tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, whose independence is recognized by many Western countries, but which Belgrade opposes with the support of Russia and China. Negotiations mediated by the EU have not made much progress in recent years.

Despite the war in Ukraine, Serbia maintains close ties with its traditional Slavic ally, Russia, in part because Moscow opposes Kosovo’s independence.

Vučić stated on Thursday that Serbia will not yet join the EU sanctions against Russia due to its aggression in Ukraine. Serbia, an EU candidate state, is the only European country apart from Belarus to ignore the embargo.


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