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EU Urged to Link Serbia’s Negotiations to Action on Kosovo Deal

Ahead of the European Council meeting, EU General Affairs Council says Chapter 35 of Serbia’s negotiations process must be changed to reflex Serbia’s obligations under the February-March agreement on Kosovo.

The European Union’s General Affairs Council urged the European Council and European Commission to change the conditions for Serbia’s Chapter 35 EU negotiations to reflect obligations from the Agreement on normalisation of relations with Kosovo.

“The Council requests the Commission and the High Representative to urgently propose to the Council, before the end of January 2024, the amendments to the benchmarks of Chapter 35 of Serbia’s accession negotiations to reflect Serbia’s obligations stemming from the Agreement and its Implementation Annex,” the Council’s conclusions from a meeting on Tuesday said.

The meeting is a preparation for the European Council meeting due on Thursday and Friday.

Chapter 35, on “Other questions”, in Serbia’s case concerns relations with Kosovo, whose independence in 2008 Belgrade has vowed never to recognise. It remains one of the main issues that need to be solved before Serbia can become an EU member, as Brussels has made clear it will not accept new members with outstanding border issues and disputes.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic last week said that “if you include the fact that Kosovo’s membership of the United Nations is part of Chapter 35, then it is clear to you that you do not want Serbia [in EU]”.

“I don’t believe it is possible and I do not think such a decision will be made,” Vucic told Radio Television of Vojvodina.

The Annex of the deal, which Vucic orally accepted in Ohrid, North Macedonia, in March says: “The Parties note that immediately after the adoption of the Agreement and this Annex, the EU Facilitator will start the process to amend the Chapter 35 benchmarks for Serbia to reflect Serbia’s new obligations stemming from the Agreement and this Annex”.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said after that meeting that he will “launch the work immediately to formerly include the amendments to Chapter 35 to Serbia’s EU accession negotiations”.

The Agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia says the two sides should develop normal, good-neighbourly relations with each other on the basis of equal rights.

It also says Kosovo and Serbia should mutually recognise their respective documents and national symbols, including passports, diplomas, vehicle licence plates and customs stamps.

On international representation, the agreement says the parties should assume neither of the two can represent the other in the international sphere or act on the other’s behalf.

“Serbia will not object to Kosovo’s membership in any international organisation,” the agreement says.

Source : Balkan Insight