Thu, 22 Aug 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he would help to relaunch talks to normalize ties between Serbia and Kosovo after long-standing tensions between the two Balkan nations escalated further over an import tax issue in recent months.

After meeting his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on July 15, Macron said he would invite delegations from Serbia and Kosovo to Paris along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Macron, however, pointed out that France, Germany, or any other country can't offer a "magic solution" to the crisis between Serbia and Kosovo and that the answer ultimately rests with the "decision-makers" in the two Balkan states.

Speaking to reporters in a joint press conference, Vucic said Serbia "would like peace and an agreement." "The rest is now in President Macron's hands,' he added.

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have been strained since the 1999 NATO-led air war that led to Kosovo's breaking away from Serbia and ultimately declaring independence, something Belgrade has refused to recognize.

European-Union-mediated talks have failed to settle the two countries' differences.

Those tensions have escalated further after Kosovo imposed a 100-percent tariff on all Serbian goods in November.

Belgrade has claimed that the tariffs created a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo's north, but Pristina insists that goods coming from Serbia have been replaced by imports from other countries in recent months.

Vucic also said that he had asked Macron to help Serbia in its bid to join the European Union, but Macron made no promises.

Macron reiterated his previous view that the EU needed to make decision-making more efficient before Serbia and other countries can join the bloc.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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