Serbia, Kosovo leaders abruptly cancel EU-brokered meeting

Deal involves land swap that could allow both nations move towards EU membership

Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci talks to the press after meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Friday. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci talks to the press after meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Friday. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

 

The presidents of Serbia and Kosovo abruptly called off a face-to-face meeting in Brussels on Friday, deflating hopes of a deal involving a land swap that could allow both nations to move towards EU membership.

Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci was due to discuss the swap plan with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic for the first time in talks brokered by the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini.

But both men refused to speak to each other moments before their meeting was due to start at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, diplomats said, leaving Ms Mogherini to meet them separately several times during the day to keep talks alive.

“It went wrong today, they did not meet, they indulged in some drama instead,” said one EU diplomat briefed on the talks, although it was not immediately clear what caused the breakdown.

Cancelled visit

“Difficulties remain,” Ms Mogherini said in a statement, although she said she would seek another meeting with the two presidents later this month.

Mr Vucic had planned to visit Kosovo this weekend and hold a rally, but a Serbian government official said he had now cancelled the visit. Mr Vucic’s office still has not issued a statement saying if the visit is cancelled.

The failure to meet in person partly reflects a backlash in both Kosovo and Serbia to the land swap plan, as well as some resistance in Germany, the EU diplomat said.

Belgrade and Pristina have both raised the idea of redrawing their border. – Reuters