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Kosovo's Thaci Wants 'Historic Deal' With Serbia

Serbian President Aleksander Vucic (left) speaks with Kosovar President Hashim Thaci (right) next to European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn (2nd right) and European Council President Donald Tusk during the EU-Western Balkans summit last month.

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci has pledged to continue dialogue with Serbia and reach a comprehensive, legally binding agreement on normalizing relations between Pristina and Belgrade.

Thaci made the comments at a news conference in Pristina on June 20 ahead of EU-facilitated talks with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, later this week.

"I am convinced that the time has come now, after 20 years of negotiations with Serbia, to sign a historic agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that will end a tragic era that lasted over a century", Thaci said.

EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini is set to host a meeting with Thaci and Vucic in Brussels on June 24.

The bloc has said Mogherini and the two presidents will "take stock of existing agreements, inform of achievements to date as well as discuss the next steps in view of an intensive period ahead."

Thaci called for the involvement of institutional leaders, representatives of all parties, experts, civil society, and the media in what he called the final phase of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

He said the upcoming negotiations will be hard but necessary if Kosovo wants to become part of the United Nations, the European Union, and NATO.

Kosovo's president also said the sides will have to discuss issues related to the 400-kilometer border between Kosovo and Serbia.

"I am not interested in new borders with Serbia, I am interested in peace. In case there is a new conflict, then the extent of damage will be enormous for both countries," Thaci said.

Serbia's former province of Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and is recognized as a sovereign state by more than 110 countries but not by Belgrade and Moscow.

Both Serbia and Kosovo are pursuing membership in the EU, and the bloc wants an agreement to normalize ties completed by the end of 2019.