Kosovo and Serbia leaders discussed missing persons, displaced persons, and economic cooperation in the first meeting since the resumption of dialogue last week.
In a press statement, EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak invited both parties to work with the international community and the Red Cross to solve the remaining cases of missing persons: “This is a very symbolic issue in the context of reconciliation, and it is a very real issue for the families who live with uncertainties for decades.”
According to the Kosovo government’s Commission on Missing Persons, there are still 1,650 people missing as a consequence of the 1998-99 war with Serbia. Of these, 1,100 are ethnic Albanians, 360 are Serbs and 200 are from other minority communities.
Lajcak added that parties also discussed the displaced persons and economic cooperation but gave no details.
President Aleksandar Vucic told journalists that Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti requested that all Serbian military and police archives be opened in order to find locations of mass graves. Vucic said he also asked that archives of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) be opened to locate where Serbs were killed.
He refused to talk about Serbia’s war reparations to Kosovo, but proposed a trade agreement with terms that would show that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo. They also discussed the acceleration of works on the Nis-Pristina highway with greater European participation.
Vucic stressed that Serbia is not negotiating with Kosovo only, but also with the EU and some powerful European countries that recognize Kosovo.
Prime Minister Hoti confirmed the topics of discussion and added the talks were difficult.
Next week, experts from both countries will meet in Brussels to work on the issues.
The next high-level meeting will be held in early September.