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Serbia, Kosovo agree on sequence of measures to normalize ties – EU foreign policy chief

The head of the EU foreign policy service stressed that the first thing Kosovo agreed to do was "immediately launch negotiations within the dialogue mediated by the EU in order to ensure the necessary level of self-government of the Serbian community in Kosovo"

BRUSSELS, March 19. /TASS/. Serbia and Kosovo have agreed on the sequence of measures to normalize bilateral relations, the first of them being Kosovo’s implementation of its commitments regarding self-management of Serbian communities in Kosovo, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told reporters early on Sunday.

"I am glad to announce that finally, after 12 hours [of negotiations] we have a deal," the EU foreign policy chief said after the 12-hour EU-mediated talks with the prime minister of the unrecognized Kosovo republic, Albin Kurti, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. "Kosovo and Serbia have agreed on implementation annex of the Agreement on the path of normalization of relations between them."

"Kosovo has agreed to launch immediately - and when I’m saying immediately, I mean immediately - negotiations within European Union-facilitated dialogue on establishing specific arrangements and guarantees to ensure an appropriate level of self-management for the Serbian communities in Kosovo," he added.

"What the parties have accepted: the agreement [reached in Brussels on February 27] and its implementation through the annex will become an integral part of their respective European Union paths," Borrell continued.

He said he would immediately begin work to include all those provisions into official documents within the framework of Kosovo and Serbia’s admission process.

Borrell added that the sides decided not to sign the deal, although they agreed to start implementing it. Therefore, the EU official continued, "the annex and the agreement are considered adopted through my statement that will be published [soon]," but not through a joint statement signed by all parties, as was initially planned.

During the February 27 talks in Brussels, mediated by Borrell, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti approved the ‘Agreement on the Path to Normalization between Kosovo and Serbia’, which stipulates mutual passport recognition, Serbia’s refusal to represent Kosovo on the international stage, the exchange of diplomatic missions, as well as the parties' legal obligations to work towards a comprehensive normalization of relations.

They did not signed the document, however, and postponed discussions on the sequence of its implementation until March 18.

Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija unilaterally proclaimed independence in February 2008, which was recognized by the United Nations Court of Justice in 2010. However, more than 60 countries, including Russia, China, India, and five European Union member states, are strongly against recognizing Kosovo’s independence. Nevertheless, Kosovo has been seeking to join international organizations.