Serbia, Kosovo sign initial deal to normalize relations
Serbia and Kosovo reached a preliminary accord to normalize ties after years of conflict and tension, paving the way for reconciliation and talks on joining the European Union, media reported. “This is an historic day for Serbia-Kosovo relations, for the entire Western Balkans region and for the European Union,” Stefan Fule, the EU’s enlargement chief, said in a statement. The agreement, signed by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci in Brussels on Friday, provides some autonomy for the roughly 40,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo who steadfastly refuse to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. Details of the text - aimed at helping to resolve the last major dispute remaining of the bloody 1990s conflict that split the Balkans - have not been made public by the EU. The deal, which both leaders must now get approved in their capitals, would help Serbia win a start date for EU membership talks in June and unlock pre-entry negotiations for its breakaway province, after Kosovo declared independence in 2008 following the wars of the 1990s that split the former Yugoslavia.
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