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Kosovar, Serbian Leaders Agree To Further Talks On Normalizing Ties


The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia agreed at a summit in Brussels on January 25 to hold further high-level talks on establishing normal relations after a flare-up in tensions this year.

"We have agreed to continue the dialogue on the high level of officials in the coming days. We will also try to lower the tensions between the two sides, to try to act responsibly and to restrain ourselves," said Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic after a late-night meeting.

"I will personally require from Serbian ministers and state officials to act in that way. I believe that we will keep our word on that," he said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stressed after the meeting that a normalization of relations is "key for both sides in moving forward on their respective paths towards the European Union."

Mogherini said the meeting was "open and very constructive," and both sides "agreed to leave the tensions behind and to focus on the work ahead" in a series of high-level meetings in the "coming days."

Ahead of the talks, Kosovar leaders had accused Serbia of trying to "destabilize" Kosovo, with President Hashem Thaci accusing Belgrade of plotting to take control of the enclave, which was a part of Serbia before declaring independence in 2008.

Tensions increased earlier this month after Belgrade sent a train toward an ethnic-Serbian-dominated enclave in northern Kosovo with the slogan "Kosovo is Serbia" emblazoned on the side.

Kosovo's leaders have cited the incident for dramatically increasing tensions, along with Serbia's move this month to issue a warrant for the arrest of Kosovo's former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj in France on war-crimes charges.

"I hope Serbia will use this meeting to calm down, to calm the nationalist pretensions," Thaci said after the talks.

"Kosovo’s answer on calls for war is peace and normalization of relations," he said. "Tonight's meeting has helped the Serbian leadership to understand that Kosovo is an independent country which has its own constitution and laws."

Serbia has never recognized Kosovo's independence, though it is recognized by 114 other countries, including the United States and most other Western nations.

"Kosovo is committed to peace, security, and good neighborliness...but we are also firmly determined not to allow interference by anyone in Kosovo's internal affairs," Kosovo's Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told RFE/RL before the meeting.

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