DAccording to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the two Balkan neighbors Serbia and Kosovo settled their dispute over entry regulations shortly before the end of a new deadline. “We have a deal,” Borrell reported on Saturday in the short message service Twitter. Serbia has agreed to allow holders of Kosovo identity papers to enter the country without any additional documents. In return, Kosovo dropped plans to make it more difficult for Serbian citizens to enter the country in the near future. All citizens would now be able to travel freely between Kosovo and Serbia with their respective ID cards, Borrell said.
Borrell spoke of a “European solution”. The Spanish politician continued: “We congratulate both leaders (Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti) for this decision.” Shortly afterwards, Serbian Prime Minister Kurti also replied on Twitter: “Reciprocity should be the spirit of fundamental solutions.” Vucic initially had no reaction.
The controversial entry rules for Serbs into Kosovo were due to come into force on Thursday, September 1st. Originally, they should have been in effect since August 1st. However, under pressure from the US and the EU, the plans were postponed by a month. The goal of the Kosovar government was to treat Serbs crossing the border in the same way as Kosovars were treated by Serbia. For almost a decade and a half, Serbia has refused to recognize the declaration of independence of its former province of Kosovo.
The EU has been trying for years to help clarify the relationship between the two sides. This is extremely tense because Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, split from Serbia in 1999 with the help of NATO and declared its independence in 2008. More than 100 countries, including Germany, recognized Kosovo’s independence. Others – including Russia, China and five EU countries – have not done so to date. In the past there have been blockades and clashes between the Serb minority and security forces in the border area.