Serbia, Kosovo leaders meet again in Brussels

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Serbia, Kosovo leaders meet again in Brussels

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Leaders from Serbia and Kosovo are back in Brussels for the ninth round of talks aimed at normalising relations between the two nations.

EU officials have made it clear that Belgrade’s chances of opening negotiations to join the bloc depend on finding a deal with Pristina.

One major sticking point for the Serbian government is the degree of autonomy that ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo would enjoy.

They’ve created parallel institutions financed by Belgrade, such as hospitals, schools and even courts that operate under Serbian law.

Kosovo wants these institutions dismantled.

Austrian MEP Ulrike Lunacek, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Kosovo, said failure could scupper Serbia’s bid to join the EU

“Nobody in the European Union – neither those who are more on the side of the Serbs – would allow a ‘second Cyprus’ in the European Union, meaning a country which doesn’t have clearly defined borders.”

Serbia has so far refused to recognise Kosovo’s self-declared independence in 2008. Brussels says it must do so before EU membership talks can begin.

Kosovo’s independence is widely accepted by the international community, including the United States and 22 EU countries.