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Evoking WW2, EU Commission chief urges Kosovo-Serbia reconciliation By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Polish soldiers from the Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo (KFOR) pass the barricades that are near the border crossing of Kosovo and Serbia at Jarinje in Kosovo on September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Laura Hasani/File Photo

PRISTINA (Reuters) – The European Union’s chief executive urged Kosovo and Serbia on Wednesday to overcome a mounting border dispute and recommit to mediated talks in Brussels, saying that as a German national she understood the challenges of reconciliation after conflict.

NATO troops increased their presence in Kosovo Monday, near the border crossings that were blocked by Serbs angry at a ban on vehicles with Serbian license plates being allowed into the country. It was the latest conflict between neighbors.

I know how to resolve disputes. “I know what it means to overcome disputes…,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission said during her visit to Kosovo’s capital. This was in preparation for an EU-Balkan summit scheduled for Oct. 6.

The EU is a place where Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina as well Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, and Montenegro all want to belong. But progress has slowed since the 2003 EU promise that they would admit them once they have met all requirements.

Kosovo, which was supported by most EU member countries, declared its independence in 2008. Serbia, however, has refused to recognize that declaration, thus preventing it being recognized at the United Nations.

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Serbia and Kosovo, both of which are candidates for EU membership must strengthen their mutual relationships if they wish to be accepted into the bloc. The latest round of EU-mediated negotiations will see their negotiators travel to Brussels.

I hope they will come with strong mandates to negotiate. This is the only way to solve the problem and get ahead. Von der Leyen stated that she is convinced that it’s crucial to reduce tensions and return to constructive dialogue.

She added that “we want a future in which Kosovo and the Western Balkans will be part of the European Union.”

Although the EU has strong support for Balkan membership, 27 EU members remain divided on the pace of “enlargement”, and in particular whether they will begin accession negotiations with Albania or North Macedonia.

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