Balkan leader summit in Berlin aims to break Kosovo-Serbia deadlock

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The summit was attended by Western Balkan leaders.
The summit was attended by Western Balkan leaders. -
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AP
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The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo met in Berlin for their first talks in several months — part of a Western Balkan summit aimed at ending the deadlock in the region.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the talks, attended by several Western Balkan leaders and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

Key talking points were Serbia's refusal to acknowledge the 2008 independence of Kosovo, high mutual tariffs, as well as controversial suggestions of a land swap between the two countries. The EU remains wary of any moves to redraw boundaries.

Eleven years since Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia following a 1998-99 war, Belgrade continues to view Kosovo as its own territory despite a majority of European Union countries and the US recognising it as a sovereign nation.

Merkel and Macron sought to reduce expectations of concrete results, saying it was more about providing an open forum for regional leaders to discuss issues.

Macron said that it was in Europe's wider interest to foster stability in the region.

"We have no intention of prescribing a solution," Macron said. He added that priorities were to "look at all possible options, take the heat out of the debate and advance without taboos and without giving rise to new regional tensions."

Merkel echoed this, saying: "It is an open discussion today, it is not about making decisions, it is about having an honest and joint conversation.”

The event was also an opportunity for Macron and Merkel to display a united front after recent strains in relations over the future of Europe and its economy.