The leaders of France, Germany, and Italy have issued a joint statement urging Serbia to take steps towards “de-facto recognition” of Kosovo, a region that declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but is still regarded by Belgrade as its province.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made this call following talks with both sides, emphasizing the need for Balkan neighbors to fulfill prior commitments.
Recent violent incidents have raised international concerns about the potential for renewed conflict between the two former wartime adversaries.
The focal point of tension has been northern Kosovo, where ethnic Serbs constitute a majority, while the rest of Kosovo is predominantly ethnic Albanian.
The leaders reiterated their long-standing call for Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to establish an association of Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo, granting local Serbs a measure of self-governance.
Serbia and Kosovo have engaged in EU-mediated talks for years to normalize their relations, but progress has been slow.
As a result, leaders from the EU’s three largest member states have become increasingly involved in efforts to restore relations.
While the EU has previously avoided the politically sensitive issue of recognizing Kosovo’s independence, the three leaders made it clear that they expected Serbia to move in that direction, exerting pressure on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The joint statement called on Kosovo to initiate the procedure for establishing the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, as outlined in the draft Statute, and urged Serbia to take steps toward de-facto recognition.
Vucic has previously stated his refusal to formally or informally recognize Kosovo.
However, both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to join the EU in the future, and the EU has maintained that resolving their differences is a prerequisite for membership.
The joint statement underscored the importance of progress in normalizing relations, highlighting that failing to do so could lead to missed opportunities for both sides.
As tensions persist in the region, the international community remains vigilant in its efforts to prevent a return to open conflict and promote stability in the Balkans.