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Serbia, Kosovo agree to talks after Berlin summit

April 30, 2019

A Balkan summit in Berlin has ended with Serbia and Kosovo agreeing to work together to diffuse existing tensions. Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had hoped to restart a dialogue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, left, arrive for a group photo as part of a meeting with Balkan leaders
Image: Reuters/M. Sohn

Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to continue talks to resolve their current conflict, the German government said in a statement early Tuesday. The announcement came at the conclusion of a regional summit that was hosted in Berlin.

The Balkan neighbors will move forward on efforts to implement existing agreements, a government spokesman said.

Both sides also vowed to play a "constructive" role in talks led by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Previous negotiations broke down over talk of possible border changes between Serbia and Kosovo.

Read more: Serbia and Kosovo clash over army at UN Security Council

Western Balkan leaders gathered in Berlin on Monday, with the goal of defusing the worsening feud between Serbia and its former province, Kosovo.

The summit was jointly organized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. In attendance were heads of state and government from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. Mogherini also traveled to Berlin for the talks.

EU holds accession talks with Western Balkans

A 'European perspective'

Serbia and Kosovo's relationship has been fraught for years, with Belgrade refusing to recognize its neighbor's move to declare independence from Serbia in 2008. Some 100 countries including Germany have recognized Kosovo as a sovereign country.

On Monday, Merkel and Macron stressed the importance of stability in the region and noted the positive example of Macedonia, which recently settled its long-running dispute with Greece by agreeing to rename itself North Macedonia.

Read more: Opinion: Berlin Balkan conference — a surprising breakthrough in the cards?

While they two leaders said they did not seek nor expect to resolve Serbia and Kosovo's political conflict, they believed it was time for a new dialogue to begin.

"We agreed to this joint initiative because we are committed to the European perspective of the Western Balkans countries," Merkel said. "It is in Europe's interest that there is positive development in this region."

jcg/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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