An attempt by EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak failed to bring together the negotiating teams of Kosovo and Serbia on Tuesday, but a number of issues concerning both sides were separately discussed with the facilitator.
Lajcak said they held intense separate discussions on “a number of concrete topics,” but no further details were made public.
Petar Petkovic, the Serbian negotiating team leader, accused the Kosovo teams of refusing to sit in talks, all the while suggesting that Serbia could not sit in talks before Kosovo established an association os Serb-majority municipalities as it was agreed in 2013.
“I don’t know how we can move forward and discuss other issues prior to [establishment of] association,” he told the media after meetings with Lajcak.
Besnik Bislimi, who leads the Kosovo team, said they discussed the issue of the over 6,000 missing persons from the Kosovo war, stressing that an urgent solution is needed. Progress was made in discussions with over issues concerning energy and car license plates, he added.
Yesterday’s attempt to resume meetings came after 3 months since the last one between the negotiating teams. It followed a push earlier this month by the EU and US for real progress in the dialogue.
This attempt aimed to set the stage for a third meeting between the countries’ leaders, Albin Kurti and Aleksandar Vucic, who met twice before, with the last meeting happening in June 2021.
In visits to both countries last month, the EU and US envoys argued that a meeting between the two leaders should yield “concrete result”.
In April, Serbia is going through general and presidential elections, which make it highly unlikely for Vucic to sit in talks and agree on “concrete results” that could affect his electorate.
Serbia insists on having an association of Serb-majority municipalities established in Kosovo, based on a 2013 agreement, which the Kosovo Constitutional Court ruled in breach of the constitution as it effectively would create a parallel government in the country. The government of Kosovo maintains that it will comply with the court ruling and not allow the establishment of such Serb-only association with executive powers.
Kosovo demands Serbia to disclose information on the 6,000 persons who went missing during the Serbian state’s massacres in Kosovo in 1998-99. It also wants the dialogue to end in mutual recognition, which Serbia categorically refuses to grant.