Serbia inks deal with breakaway Kosovo region to end spat that featured jet flyovers and tanks at border

30 Sep, 2021

Chief negotiators for Serbia and Kosovo have formally reached agreement to conclude the latest round of escalation. “We have a deal,” tweeted EU special representative Miroslav Lajcak after two days of “intense negotiations.”

The recent disagreement had seen Kosovo order its police to force any cars attempting to cross the border to remove Serbian license plates, arguing that a 10-year-old deal between the nations had expired. Serbia had responded by sending military planes to fly near the border, while footage from the area showed tanks and military vehicles deployed to the area.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen had previously urged the two sides to work to “de-escalate” and “return to the negotiation table to find a sustainable solution.” The European bloc has been trying to facilitate talks between Serbia and its breakaway region for the past decade, as Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence in 2008.

The deal comes after the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, called on the European Union to “convey a clear message that Europe has an interest in a European Balkans” after the bloc warned it can’t guarantee “six countries” (as most of the EU recognize Kosovo’s independence) future membership, as had once been promised.

Speaking ahead of a summit next week, Schmidt urged the EU to work to bolster “closer cooperation” between the bloc and Balkan nations, working on improving economic and infrastructure ties. The countries had all previously been promised they would be ultimately admitted to the EU bloc, with officials promising 18 years ago to give their “unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans.”

The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina is a role that was established in the wake of the Dayton Agreement, signed at the end of the Bosnian War, to oversee the peace process in the region. Schmidt ascended to the role after his predecessor resigned despite some international opposition to his appointment, with Russia arguing he should have been approved by the UN Security Council.

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