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Brussels steps up pressure on Serbia over Kosovo talks

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) welcomes Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic prior to their meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, on April 26, 2021.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) welcomes Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic prior to their meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, on April 26, 2021.   -   Copyright  VIRGINIA MAYO/The Associated Press
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The European Union wants Serbia to continue talks with Kosovo as part of its membership talks with the bloc.

Serbian President Alexander Vučić was in Brussels on Monday to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Brussels' foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, where it was made clear that for the Balkan country to accelerate its membership application, there must be positive developments in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

"I encourage President Vucic to continue in this path, to reach a comprehensive legally binding agreement and the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Kosovo. We need the process to continue without delay and with results despite all the difficulties that we know and are still there," Borrell said on Monday.

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Serbia has not yet recognised Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, following NATO's 1999 intervention, which saw Serbian troops removed from the small and predominantly Muslim Balkan country.

But Matteo Bonomi from the Institute for International Affairs told Euronews that Kosovo doesn't have a strong negotiating hand, compared to its larger, more influential neighbour.

"The ambiguity of EU action in the region and the halfway commitment has not facilitated dialogue. On the contrary, it has put the two parts involved on a very asymmetrical basis. And one part [Kosovo] has a strong perception to be more an object than a subject of the dialogue," Bonomi explained.

On Thursday, Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti will meet separately with Europe’s top leaders in Brussels.