Kosovo and Serbia honoured an EU-brokered deal on Tuesday by taking part in a meeting together in Brussels on the environment.Serbia and Kosovo officials finally sat down at the same table on Tuesday in Brussels, as both sides honoured an agreement on Kosovo’s representation at regional summits.
The two parties also signed the joint conclusions of the session, called by the European Commission, which pledged further cooperation on the environment.
It was the first time that Serbia had agreed to take part in such a meeting alongside Kosovo.
“This is the first time that the representatives of Serbia did not boycott such a ministerial level meeting owing to Kosovo’s partiticipation,” the Kosovo government noted afterwards in a press release.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. But Serbia does not recognise the new country and Belgrade refused previously to participate in meetings where Kosovo was represented as an independent country with its own state symbols.
The two parties reached an EU-led agreement on the issue in February, but it has not been implemented to date.
Under the terms of the complex formula, it was agreed that Kosovo would be represented with the name “Kosovo” and an accompanying footnote referring both to UN Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
Serbia demanded mention of the 1999 UN resolution on Kosovo, as it sees this as favourable to Serbia’s claims to Kosovo.
Kosovo, on the other hand, sought mention of the 2010 ICJ ruling, which found that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law or Resolution 1244.
The press release from the authorities in Pristina noted that the Brussels meeting passed off without incident.
“At the end of the meeting, all ministers signed a joint statement, vowing to abide by their obligations to further strengthen regional cooperation on environmental issues,” it said.
EU-mediated talks started in March last year aimed at normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, both of which share a desire to join the EU one day.
The two sides have reached deals on trade, freedom of movement, cadastral registry and mutual recognition of university diplomas, but none of the agreements has been signed.
Kosovo has accused Serbia of putting most of the agreements on hold.
Talks between the two sides halted following the May general elections in Serbia, which resulted in the Democrats, led by Boris Tadic, losing power.
Serbia now has a new government and the talks are expected to resume soon at a higher political level than before.