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Thaci, Vucic Hold 'Difficult' Talks On Normalizing Kosovo-Serbia Ties


EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (center), is hosting the talks between Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci (left) and his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic (right). (file photo)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, have come together in the Belgian capital for EU-mediated talks aimed at normalizing bilateral relations.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who hosted the three-hour meeting, said she and the two presidents had an "intensive and productive discussion on the framework of an agreement on comprehensive normalization of relations between the two sides."

"They agreed to intensify the work in the coming weeks," Mogherini’s office also said in a statement.

It was the first such meeting since March and only the second this year.

Speaking to reporters, Thaci described the talks as "the most difficult meeting."

“I am afraid that if we don’t reach an agreement we will [both] lose a lot. The EU will accept neither Kosovo nor Serbia as long as we have problems between each other," he added.

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.

Earlier this week, Thaci said the upcoming negotiations with Serbia would be hard but necessary if Kosovo wants to become part of the United Nations, the European Union, and NATO.

Speaking at a news conference in Pristina on June 20, Kosovo’s president 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.

"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.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Balkan Service
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    RFE/RL's Balkan Service

    In 2019, RFE/RL's Balkan Service marked 25 years of reporting in one of the world’s most contested regions, championing professionalism and moderation in a media landscape that is sharply divided along ethnic and partisan lines.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.