Serbia and Kosovo sign historic accord
Countries normalise ties after years of conflict and tension, paving the way for reconciliation and talks on joining EU
Kosovo's prime minister Hashim Thaci talks to the media after a meeting with Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels today. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters
"This is an historic day for Serbia-Kosovo relations, for the entire Western Balkans region and for the European Union," Stefan Fule, the EU's enlargement chief, said in an e-mailed statement from Brussels.
"It is crucial now that the political leadership and general public in both Serbia and Kosovo support the agreement and actively help to implement it." Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovar premier Hashim Thaci signed on to the preliminary agreement in Brussels in their 10th round of EU-mediated talks.
The deal, which both leaders must now get approved in their capitals, would help Serbia win a start date for EU membership talks in June and unlock pre-entry negotiations for its breakaway province, five years after Kosovo declared independence following the wars of the 1990s that split the former Yugoslavia. "This is the draft text whose approval or rejection by either side will decided in the coming days," Mr Dacic told reporters in Brussels.
"The document is certainly better for our side than all previous proposals." Thaci agreed saying this is the "best possible" solution. "We are fully aware that there will be people in both of our countries that are not going to be very happy with this solution," he said.