EU envoy tells Serbia, Kosovo dialogue key for entry talks

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The European Union’s special envoy on Wednesday said that Serbia and Kosovo must resume talks on normalizing their relations if they want to advance toward bloc membership.

Miroslav Lajcak arrived in Belgrade after previously visiting Pristina at the start of his tour in the region.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade does not accept this. The EU has brokered talks to normalize ties but after a White House summit and talks in Brussels in September, the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo has stalled.

Lajcak said after a meeting with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic that EU member states expect the two sides to move on.

“Dialogue is key for both sides to advance on their European path,” said Lajcak. “We have no interest to preserve a status quo and we are ready to bring the process to a successful end as fast as the two sides are ready to go.”

Lajcak added that the EU is working closely with the United States with a common goal for Serbia and Kosovo in sight, which is membership in the EU.

Most EU nations and the U.S. have recognized Kosovo’s independence while Serbia’s position has had support from its allies Russia and China.

Serbia was forced to cede control over Kosovo in 1999 after a U.S.-led NATO intervention ended Belgrade’s crackdown against Kosovo separatists. More than 10,000 people died in the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

Vucic said after his meeting with Lajcak that Serbia is ready to return to the talks and insists on reaching a compromise solution.

“We believe that a compromise agreement means no one gets everything and everyone gets enough,” Vucic said.

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