Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovo counterpart, Hashim Thaci, said on Saturday evening that it's time to make new history with a deal between Kosovo and Serbia, underlining the importance of EU integrations for both countries.
“It is time for us to make new history,” Kosovo President Thaci said on Saturday evening, speaking on a panel with Vucic at the European Alpbach political forum in Austria.
The event, called “New perspectives on EU enlargement", comes ahead of Thaci and Vucic's next meeting in Brussels on September 7 for the new round of EU-facilitated dialogue aimed to resolve the decades-long dispute between the two countries.
“Nobody needs to be afraid or concerned about negotiations,” Thaci said, and added that the only way forward for both Kosovo and Serbia is EU integration.
“The time for an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is now. And we have a short window of opportunities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vucic called on the international community to allow Serbs and Albanians to resolve the Kosovo issue on their own and expressed dissatisfaction over the desire of other countries to influence the content of a possible agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, Beta news agency reported.
“Now we are trying to do something that is of great importance to our future, something that is very important for the Albanians also. We must live together, we are the two most numerous people in the Balkans. If we cannot solve it, who will?” Vucic was qouted saying.
“I am just an ordinary man trying to influence in a way that I can keep peace and tranquility," Vucic said.
"We have just witnessed a very historic moment," EU Enlargement Commissioner Joannnes Hahn said after Thaci and Vucic had spoken.
He also expressed his belief that it's up to Vucic and Thaci to build a solution, following what US President Donald Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, said in Kiev on August 24: that the US will not exclude or oppose territorial swaps between Serbia and Kosovo if the two sides can agree on them.
"Whatever the solution is, and we should not exclude anything, should contribute to stability in the region and this solution should not trigger any ideas... [I] need to assure the international community that this is a tailor-made solution contributing to the overall goal contributing to peace," Hahn said.
"We will not impose something from outside. But again, any solution must be tailor-made to contribute to regional stability, not trigger instability somewhere else. We need this reassurance," Hahn added.
On Saturday, the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced that Vucic and Thaci will meet on September 7 in Brussels.
“The High Representative will continue the discussions with the two Presidents on the comprehensive normalisation agreement with a view to making concrete progress, given the priority attached to the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and the European Union perspective of the region,” the press release said.
Serbian President Vucic also announced last week that he will visit Kosovo on September 9 to present the "guidelines and directions of state policy towards Kosovo”.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade opposes. However, the EU’s main precondition for Serbia’s bid for EU membership is for it to normalise relations with Kosovo.
Serbia's leadership, including President Aleksandar Vucic, is thought to be pushing for a territorial swap as a way to finally resolve the dispute and so move on with Serbia's EU membership aspiration.
However, this idea has met with disproval from the Serbian opposition, many Kosovo Serbs, and from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well.
On the other side, Kosovo President Thaci said on August 8 that a deal might be reached with Belgrade for the predominantly Albanian municipalities of southern Serbia – Presevo, Medvegja and Bujanovac – to become part of Kosovo.