PRISTINA – The European Union’s top diplomat on Thursday called on Serbia and Kosovo to resume dialogue, saying it's the only way to normalize their ties and achieve a final agreement.
Talks between the Balkan neighbors broke down in November 2018, when Kosovo imposed a 100% tax on Serbian goods over Belgrade's refusal to recognize Kosovo's independence.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is on a two-day trip to Kosovo before traveling Friday to Serbia.
“My duty, my task my endeavor my objective, is to accompany, facilitate the negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo," Borrell said after meeting with Kosovar President Hashim Thaci.
“Because the problem can only be solved by Serbia and Kosovo, with the negotiations between the two of them, and the result can only come from an agreement between the two of them,” Borrell said. "There is no other solution.”
The EU-mediated negotiations started in 2011, but stalled when Kosovo imposed the tariffs on Serbian products about 14 months ago.
Serbia's intervention against Kosovo's independence-seeking ethnic Albanians in 1998-99 prompted NATO to intervene to stop the conflict.
Serbia doesn't accept Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, although its former province has been recognized by about 100 countries, including the U.S. and most EU nations.
Borrell said Brussels wasn't in a race with Washington on Serbia-Kosovo negotiations and that they were “working together to achieve a result.”
Last week, senior U.S. officials brokered two deals to resume air and railway links between the two countries, which have been suspended for 21 years.
Thaci urged closer coordination between Brussels and Washington, and called on EU member states to take a united stance.
He was optimistic that a deal between Kosovo and Serbia eventually would be achieved “though that is not an easy process.” Thaci didn't say how or when the talks would resume.
Kosovo has still to form a new Cabinet with the two winning political parties in the Oct. 6 snap election continuing with disagreements.
Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.