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Trump’s breakthrough between Serbia and Kosovo

After two days of negotiation, Kosovo and Serbia both signed an agreement in which they agreed to normalize their economic relations. The agreement includes several economic agreements, like restoring air- and train travel and accepting each other’s higher education diplomas. On top of this, Serbia agreed to stop campaigning for countries to derecognize Kosovo for one year, while Kosovo promised to stop applying for membership of international organizations for one year. Many of these economic agreements had already been discussed in talks with the EU.

Several parts of the agreement relate to foreign policy issues, many of which in the interest of the United States. Serbia, for example, promised to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and Kosovo agreed to recognize, and normalize ties with, Israel. Both countries also agreed to prohibit 5G equipment supplied by “untrusted vendors,” meaning China. The agreements the countries signed differed slightly. The Serbian agreement did not mention that Kosovo would be recognized by Israel, whilst in the agreement Kosovo signed this was noted. Serbian President Aleksander Vucic even stated to the Serbian press that he signed an agreement with the US and not with Kosovo.

Serbia and Kosovo had already been in dialogue earlier this year. In June 2020 they agreed on a two-part negotiation process. The first part, led by the US, was set to be about economic aspects. The second part, led by the EU, was set to be about political aspects. This agreement was mostly in line with those plans, although Trump’s foreign policy agreements were added. According to the US, the EU and the US have close contact about the dialogue, but the EU is not convinced of the US’ involvement. The EU’s policy is not to move embassies to Israel, but now Serbia is set to be the first European country with an embassy in Jerusalem. The EU has warned that if countries want to become member of the EU in the future, they are expected to follow the EU’s foreign policy.

The next meeting was on the 7th of September, where the two countries spoke about the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) and mutual property and financial topics. The next round of negotiations about CSM is set to be on the 17th of September in Brussels, while the next high-level meeting is planned for the 28th of September.


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