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Biden Urges Implementation Of Kosovo-Serbia Deal

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) met in Washington with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has urged Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to swiftly implement a deal meant to normalize ties between Kosovo and Serbia.

In a statement issued after the leaders met on June 10, the White House said Biden had "underscored the importance of implementing the agreement fully and expeditiously to take advantage of this historic opportunity to secure peace and prosperity for the people of Kosovo and Serbia and to advance the European aspirations of both countries."

The European Union-brokered deal, reached in April after months of tense negotiations, envisions power-sharing between municipal bodies in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo and the ethnic Albanian-led central government.

Serbs in the north will retain their own autonomous bodies for health care, education, and other matters. The police and courts will be administered under the central government's laws.

Speaking to RFE/RL after he met with Biden, Thaci called the agreement "irreversible, unstoppable, and a vital process."

"There is a tendency to delay [by the Serbian side], but I am sure the implementation will happen," he said.

Thaci said Washington was doing its part to ensure that the agreement is implemented "in accordance with the deadlines and implementation actors."

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It is recognized by more than 90 countries, including the United States and the majority of EU nations.

Traditional Serbian ally Russia is among the countries that continue to back Belgrade's claim to the territory.

The agreement omits language that could suggest recognition by Belgrade of its former province's independence.

The lure of integration into the EU and other Western institutions was seen as playing a pivotal role in helping the two sides reach a deal.

Speaking to RFE/RL, Thaci deflected charges by some Kosovars that the deal does more for Serbia than for Kosovo. Kosovo remains the only Balkan nation not to enjoy a visa-free travel regime with EU countries in the Schengen Area.

Meanwhile, Thaci's Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, told reporters in Belgrade on June 10 that his government would feel "cheated" if it did not soon receive a concrete date from Brussels for the beginning of talks on EU membership.

Dacic was speaking after the EU's representative in Serbia, Vincent Degert, said earlier that the European Commission would only discuss giving Serbia "the green light" for negotiations on June 28.

"That is not acceptable for us and that can jeopardize the implementation of the Brussels agreement," Dacic said.