EU backs new talks between Serbia, Kosovo

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says discussions will 'intensify' over coming days

EU backs new talks between Serbia, Kosovo

World Bulletin / News Desk

The EU has confirmed Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to hold “high-level” talks, despite a recent diplomatic spat which laid bare divisions over Kosovo’s non-recognition by Belgrade.

A statement from EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini late on Tuesday said both sides had “agreed to take the dialogue forward in a spirit of respect, cooperation and mutual understanding”.

Mogherini indicated talks would begin in the coming days.

Her statement came after tension erupted between the two Balkan countries over Serbia's reopening of a railway line to Kosovo, closed 18 years ago in NATO bombing amid the breakup of Yugoslavia.

A Serbian train decked out in the national colors -- with “Kosovo is Serbia” printed in 21 languages on its sides -- tried to enter Kosovo. The train was eventually stopped by the authorities in the Serbian border city of Raska but the incident provoked controversy between the two states.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade insists the country remains part of Serbia.

Since then tensions have remained between Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian majority and a small Serb minority in the north.

Mogherini also met the presidents and prime ministers of the two countries on Tuesday, according to the statement.

“They discussed the developments over the past days, agreed to leave the tensions behind and to focus on the work ahead,” Mogherini added.

She said normalization between the two countries was “essential” for Kosovo, Serbia and the European Union.

Kosovo is a former Serbian province with nearly 1.8 million people, over 90 percent of whom are Kosovar Albanians.

It is recognized by over 100 countries, including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Turkey.

Russia and China are among the other countries which have not yet recognized Kosovo’s independence.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ocak 2017, 17:13