At EU-brokered talks in Brussels, representatives of Serbia and Kosovo failed to reach any rapprochement in the dispute over the tense situation in northern Kosovo.

Unfortunately, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti were unable to reach an agreement, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said late last night after several hours of negotiations. He fears that the situation could now become critical. The recent extraordinary local elections have the potential to escalate.

Boycott call from Belgrade

A week and a half ago, candidates from Albanian parties won the elections in the predominantly Serb-populated north of Kosovo after the Serbian list, which is controlled from Belgrade, called for a boycott. The Serbian list justified its boycott with the fact that the leadership in Kosovo had still not created the conditions for the establishment of a Serbian association of municipalities with far-reaching executive powers.

The extraordinary local elections had become necessary because all officials and civil servants of Serbian nationality had resigned in November of the previous year in protest against the policies of the Kosovan government.

dispute about independence

The EU has been trying for years to help clarify the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo. This is proving to be extremely difficult because Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, split from Serbia in 1999 with the help of NATO and declared its independence in 2008. More than 100 countries, including Germany, recognize Kosovo’s independence. Others, including Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries, have not done so to this day.

Belgrade and Pristina are currently negotiating the settlement of their relations again. However, the talks have come to a standstill because Serbia does not want to accept the loss of its former southern province.

Borrell said last night talks must go ahead. He indirectly threatened that if the negotiations failed, neither country would be allowed to join the EU. Serbia has been an official candidate for accession since 2012, and Kosovo is considered a potential candidate for accession.