Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that Serbia is willing to reach a compromise with Kosovo. The European Union requires that Belgrade solve its problems with Pristina in order to continue the process of accession to the EU. The two Balkan countries have continually clashed since the 1990s when Yugoslavia disintegrated. The war between the neighbouring states ended with the Dayton Agreement (1995), reached following an extensive NATO bombing campaign against Belgrade. However, Serbia continues to refuse to recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Vucic met with his Kosovar counterpart in Brussels on March 30 in an EU-brokered conversation led by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. The leaders discussed the possibility of a comprehensive deal which would enable the normalization of relations. According to Mogherini, some of the issues that Serbia and Kosovo need to settle include reaching a compromise on the Ibar bridge in Mitrovica, finalizing an energy deal, and implementing communal associations for Serbian-dominated communities in Kosovo.
Despite the the high-level negotiations, conflicts persist. The European Handball Federation disqualified the Serbian junior women’s team from the world cup after Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs cancelled the match with the Kosovar team over security concerns and the threat of clashes between nationalist fans and the police. In the meantime, the EU and the U.S. have their eyes on Pristina and Belgrade. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell stated on his recent visit to the Balkans that there is “[a]window of opportunity to make progress [and]resolve issues that have held Western Balkans back for too long.”