EU’s top diplomat urges ‘political courage’ in Kosovo-Serbia talks

Brussels - The EU's top diplomat appealed to Serbia and Kosovo to show compromise and pragmatism on Sunday ahead of renewed talks between the two sides aimed at ironing out their relations.

Reaching a compromise won't be easy

"The talks will require political courage from both sides," said Josep Borrell before a video conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovan Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.

The EU's special representative for the process, Miroslov Lajcak, also took part in the talks, which were overseen by Germany and France.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo, a former Serbian autonomous province that broke away in 1999 after NATO intervened to end Belgrade's repression of a rebellion by the ethnic Albanian majority.

An EU-mediated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade that began in 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence, had intended to normalize relations, but has been put on ice since November 2018.

The absence of a solution is hampering the development of both sides, said Borrell, who also acknowledged that finding a solution will not be an easy process.

"It has never been easy to find solutions to problems that lasted for so long and were so painful," he said.

The talks followed a video summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which both sides agreed to continue talking.

A solution will benefit everybody

Lajcak sought to strike a positive note after Sunday's video conference, saying he was happy that the dialogue had resumed after 20 months.

The parties had agreed on the process and the main points of the agenda for a further face-to-face meeting in Brussels on Thursday, said Lajcak, without giving further details.

Statements from Vucic and Hoti after last week's summit however made it clear that the two sides remained far from an agreement.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, David McAllister, meanwhile, said the resumption of talks was a "positive signal".

"The unresolved situation between the two countries remains a potentially destabilizing factor for the entire western Balkans and is therefore important for the security policy of the whole of Europe," he said.

The EU-led dialogue aimed to "find a sustainable solution for all sides, even if the positions are obviously still far apart," McAllister added.

The Conflict between Serbia and Kosovo