ZAGREB, April 30, 2019 – A Balkan summit in Berlin has ended without a concrete agreement between Serbia and Kosovo regarding blocked negotiations, but it has been agreed to continue dialogue in order to diffuse existing tensions.
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 organised 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. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also travelled to Berlin for the talks.
“The key messages from tonight’s meeting was a ‘yes’ to efforts aimed at restarting negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. In any case, the efforts Germany, France and broad European diplomatic community have made will most probably require more talks in order to unblock the situation,” said Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković who attended the summit.
Plenković said there was no agreement because the positions of the two sides were too far apart.
He added that the so-called Berlin process on stability would continue in early July with a meeting in Poznan, Poland.
Plenković said that at a meeting in Berlin he had underscored Croatia’s ambitions for next year when Zagreb will take over the presidency of the European Council. “We will try to combine outstanding political topics that exist between Southeast European countries and the institutional part of drawing closer to the European Union,” Plenković said.
The next meeting in this form will take place in Paris in early July.
Serbia and Kosovo’s relationship has been fraught for years, with Belgrade refusing to recognise its neighbour’s move to declare independence from Serbia in 2008. Some 100 countries have recognised Kosovo as a sovereign country.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Monday evening he was disappointed with the outcome of a Balkan summit in Berlin which ended with no agreement between Serbia and Kosovo regarding blocked negotiations, stressing that most participants were criticising Serbia but that the exceptions were Croatia and Slovenia.
“I have to admit that representatives of Slovenia and Croatia were fair and we have nothing to hold against them,” Vučić said after the Berlin summit.
Vučić particularly criticised the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić who, according to Vučić, was extremely unfair when talking about the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska.
Vučić also said that Serbia’s representatives at the summit were put in an awkward position, as they were surrounded by countries that have already recognised Kosovo. He said it was good that dialogue will resume, adding however that “Serbia had no serious partner for dialogue.”
Vučić also thanked the hosts of the summit German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for the enormous effort they have invested so as to make progress in the Western Balkans.
More news about Croatia and the Balkans can be found in the Politics section.