Serbia and Kosovo fail to sign landmark deal even as EU sees progress in talks

© Armend Nimani, AFP

Kosovo and Serbia stopped short of signing a potentially landmark deal late Saturday night after holding a marathon round of talks, even as the EU hailed progress toward reaching a long-sought agreement between the arch-foes.

The latest round of high-stakes negotiations followed months of EU-mediated shuttle diplomacy, nearly 25 years after the war between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Serb forces sparked a NATO bombing campaign that ended the conflict and saw Serbian government personnel and security forces pull out from the breakaway territory.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic engaged in negotiations for nearly 12 hours during a summit in North Macedonia's Ohrid, picking over an 11-point plan unveiled by the EU last month during a Brussels summit.

But in the end, they failed to iron out a final agreement that could be signed by both.

Following the talks, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sent mixed signals about the negotiations, saying a framework to implement the plan had been reached but a path toward normalisation of ties remained elusive.

"The parties were not able to find a mutually acceptable solution as ambitious as we were providing or proposing," said Borrell, even as he hailed reaching a deal that went unsigned in the end.

Following Saturday's talks, the two leaders both admitted that progress had been made but were quick to unleash barbs at the other over the failure to put pen to paper.

Serbia's Vucic was lukewarm about the day's results.


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