The long-running dispute between Kosovo and Serbia was a major driver of conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s and led to the separation of Kosovo (with its ethnic Albanian majority) from Serbia at the end of that decade. Belgrade and Pristina have never normalised relations with each other, with Serbia continuing to refuse to recognise Kosovo’s independence. The sharpest point of friction today is the level of self-rule in the four northern Kosovo municipalities, home to a Serb majority, and their connection to Serbia. Violent protests have occurred repeatedly since 2021. Crisis Group closely watches developments in the region and recommends ways to foster dialogue that could help avert violence and eventually lead to normalised relations.

CrisisWatch Kosovo

Unchanged Situation

Kosovar and Serb leaders failed to resume EU-mediated talks on normalisation, and govt sparked criticism over land expropriation in Serb-majority north. 

EU-mediated meeting between Kosovar and Serb leaders fell through. EU High Representative Joseph Borrell 26 June said trilateral meeting between him, PM Kurti and Serb President Vučić on normalising relations, scheduled for that day, had not taken place. According to Borrell, Kurti refused to attend because Vučić had failed to meet Pristina’s conditions on key issues, including handing over Milan Radoičić, prominent figure on Kosovo Serb scene, who admitted role in paramilitary group that clashed with Pristina’s forces in 2023. Speaking after separate meetings with both leaders, Borrell warned that sides “remain far apart” on normalisation. Chief negotiators are set to meet again in Belgian capital, Brussels, in early July. 

International actors criticised Pristina for land expropriation in north. Pristina 6 June drew criticism from Quint states – France, Germany, Italy, UK and U.S., Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and EU for moving ahead with 3o May decision to finalise expropriation of over 100 parcels of land in northern Serb-majority municipalities. Govt same day defended move, saying construction of infrastructure, “including police stations”, will contribute to “ensuring the safety of citizens who have long been subjected to violence and terror by criminal gangs led by the chief terrorist Milan Radoičić”. 

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In The News

3 4월 2024
Kosovo is winning the battle for control of its rebellious north, while hopes for normalisation between Pristina and Belgrade are fading . Bota Sot

Marko Prelec

Consulting Senior Analyst, Balkans
15 2월 2023
There’s just zero trust [between Kosovo and Serbia] and active hostility on both sides. Gzero

Marko Prelec

Consulting Senior Analyst, Balkans

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