Vucic: Deal with Kosovo should guarantee us EU membership

Serbian president insisted on EU membership guarantee to resolve differences with Kosovo

Photo: EPA Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday he would seek a guarantee that his country would join the European Union in 2025 as part of any deal with neighbouring Kosovo, which would pave the way for both states to enter the bloc and settle their long-standing disputes.

"If we ever reach an agreement [with Kosovo], Serbia would need to get clear guarantees that it would become an EU member state in 2025," Vucic told in an interview.

"If we were ever to reach a deal, it would have to be an overall deal that would include not only relations between us and the Albanians in Kosovo, but it would also have to include a resolution of our EU path and further economic progress," he said, adding that it could however take up to 10 years for the two sides to reach an agreement because of all their differences.

"Sometimes I smile when I hear how people simplify things and say that the deal comes down to a line -- I will give you three villages and I will get six villages [in return]," he said, referring to suggestions by some leaders of a possible land swap, whereby Serbia gave up areas with a majority ethnic Albanian population in return for Kosovar territory with a majority Serb population.

Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 after NATO bombed to stop the killing and expulsion of Albanians by Serb forces during a two-year counterinsurgency war. Then, in 2008 Kosovo declared independence and has been recognised by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia.

The two sides in 2013 committed to EU-mediated talks to resolve their differences, but little progress has been made. The EU has tried pushing that progress forward, by promising that if Serbia and its former province normalise bilateral ties, they would then have a real chance for EU membership. Furthermore, a final deal with Serbia would also enable Kosovo to become a member of the United Nations.

"Right now, we don't even know where our borders are," Vucic however said.

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