Will Pristina and Belgrade be able to break the impasse to normalising relations?

08:55 | 27 Prill 2019

Eleven years since Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia, Belgrade still refuses to recognise the move after the former province broke away in 2008 following a war between Serbian government forces and Kosovar separatists in 1998-99.

Serbia continues to view Kosovo as its own territory despite a majority of European Union countries and the US recognising it as a sovereign nation.

Both countries entered mediation talks in 2011 to normalise their relations, a prerequisite for either to join the EU.

Thanks to these talks, the two neighbours have been able to resolve some of the technical issues such as border management and proper identification for Kosovo’s Serb community. The talks gave way to the 2013 Brussels agreement, which was aimed at the integration of the Serb majority in northern Kosovo. But disagreements still block normalising relations and no major breakthrough has been made since 2015.

A series of setbacks in the last couple of years have seen talks break down, starting with the murder of the ethnic-Serb politician Oliver Ivanović in January 2018. At the end of that year, Kosovo raised customs duties on imports from Serbia to 100% after Belgrade blocked Kosovo’s bid to join Interpol. In addition to this, Kosovo decided to upgrade its security force into an army, which Serbia sees as a potential threat that could trigger a military response from Belgrade.

But on April 29th, Kosovar and Serbian presidents, Hashim Thaçi and Aleksandar Vučić, will sit at the negotiating table in a meeting organised by France and Germany since talks were suspended in 2015 to try and find concrete solutions to their impasse.

Euronews spoke to Ruairi O’Connell, Britain’s Ambassador to Kosovo, about the key issues, the problems regarding the Kosovar Serb community and why a border change might not help solve the issue.

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