Tue, 11 Aug 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti are set to hold online talks ahead of a European Union-supervised weekend summit in Brussels aimed at restarting the two countries' stalled dialogue on normalizing relations.

The video conference on July 10 is to be joined by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borell and Miroslav Lajcak, the EU's special envoy for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

The discussions are to be followed by further discussions on July 12 between Hoti and Vucic at EU headquarters in the Belgian capital.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008 in a move rejected by Belgrade.

EU-mediated negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade broke down in late 2018 over reports of a proposed land swap and after Kosovo imposed a 100 percent tax on Serbian imports.

Both Kosovo and Serbia, which aspire to join the EU, have been facing mounting pressure from the West to reboot negotiations.

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said on July 6 that the Brussels meeting will resume 'the work on reaching a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the normalization' of bilateral relations.

Ahead of the talks, Vucic, who is facing protests at home over the government's response to the coronavirus, has warned that the discussions are 'not going to be easy.'

'No one is going to cuddle us or give us a present. On the contrary, we will be pressured to give in,' he said.

The new push comes after prosecutors in The Hague charged Kosovar President Hashim Thaci with war crimes, leading to the postponement of a planned June 27 White House summit between Thaci and his Serbian counterpart.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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