Serbia and its former province of Kosovo struck a historic accord to settle relations, potentially setting Belgrade on the path to membership of the European Union – in a major milestone in the region’s recovery from the collapse of Yugoslavia.
The European Union foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton said the prime ministers of both sides had initialled an agreement during talks in Brussels, at the culmination of six months of delicate negotiations and more than a decade of deep animosity since Kosovo broke away in war.
“The negotiations have concluded. The text has been initialled by both prime ministers,” Lady Ashton told reporters.
Kosovo’s EU Integration Minister, Vlora Citaku, tweeted: “And the white smoke is out! Habemus pactum! Happy:)))”
The pact is expected to tackle the ethnic partition of Kosovo since its 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, and open the door to greater international integration of the young state, which Serbia does not recognise.
Belgrade hopes that the pact will be enough for it to win the green light on Monday from the EU’s 27 members for the start of talks on Serbia’s membership of the bloc, a process that could unlock the country’s potential as the largest market in the former Yugoslavia.