Balkan neighbours Serbia and Kosovo have reached an EU-brokered historic accord aimed at normalising relations.
Reports say both parties agreed for Serbs in northern Kosovo to have their own police and appeal court.
In addition, both parties also agreed to not block efforts to seek European Union membership.
Under the deal, Serbia has approved recognition of Kosovo in exchange for wider autonomy of Kosovo’s Serbs.
Kosovo broke away in 2008. However, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.
With the new deal, Serbia’s government has finally approved recognition of Kosovo this week.
The agreement paves a way for both countries to move on with plans for membership of the EU amd NATO as well.
Five months of tense negotiation between Kosovo and Serbia
Earlier this month, Serbia reportedly opposed an agreement proposal because the terms did not “guarantee full security and protection of human rights to the Serb people in Kosovo”.
With the mediation of EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton, the deal was reached after months of tense negotiations between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Brussels.
Finally, the negotiations have concluded and the text has been signed by both prime ministers.
Many expect the new deal will help heal the wounds of the past and paves way to normalize relations between two sides.
US hails the new agreement between two Balkan neighbours.
US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Serbia and Kosovo for reaching agreement in the European Union-facilitated Dialogue led by High Representative Catherine Ashton.
He said the new pact on principles for normalization of relations required compromise and political courage from both sides.
“I applaud the governments of Kosovo and Serbia for making the hard decisions that will move them closer to their goals of European integration.” – Secretary Kerry
He encourages both countries now to implement expeditiously and fully all Dialogue agreements reached to date, so that all of those living in Kosovo and Serbia can continue to build a more peaceful and prosperous future.
The US commends High Representative Ashton for her facilitation of these talks between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
He notes Ms. Ashton’s eadership and dedication were critical in bringing about this important agreement.
“The United States will remain deeply committed to seeing the people of Serbia, Kosovo, and the entire region realize their aspirations of integration into a Europe free, whole, and at peace.” – Secretary Kerry
Kosovo and Serbia Making Good Progress on Road to European Integration?
In February 2012, Serbia and Kosovo reached an important agreement at EU-facilitated Dialogue that will pave the way for Serbia’s gaining official “candidate” status to join the European Union.
The agreement underlines conditions under which Kosovo can be represented at regional fora and a technical protocol on Integrated Border Management.
Kosovo is given the chance to sit at the table in regional fora as an equal partner, representing and speaking for itself.
The United States supports the aspirations of both countries to achieve lasting peace and prosperity and to complete their European integration.
In September 2011, Serbia’s President told the General Assembly’s annual general debate that Serbia cannot accept Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.
President Boris Tadic stressed that it will also not abandon the negotiations process between Belgrade and Pristina.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, but Serbia does not recognize the declaration.
Many minority ethnic Serbs in Kosovo have refused to recognise the authority of the mainly ethnic Albanian government in Pristina.
Tension between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and ethnic Serbs has led to deadly violence in recent years