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EU's Borrell Calls For 'Flexibility' As Kosovo-Serbia Talks Begin In Brussels.

Kosovo's Albin Kurti (left) and Serbia's Aleksandar Vucic will meet again under EU auspices.

Kosovo's Albin Kurti (left) and Serbia's Aleksandar Vucic will meet again under EU auspices.

The European Union's top diplomat has opened high-level crisis talks between the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels with an appeal to both sides to show flexibility.

European Union mediators hope the talks will de-escalate growing tensions in the Balkans and reduce the increasingly war-mongering rhetoric coming from both sides.
"Recent tensions in the north of Kosovo have demonstrated yet again that it is time to move forward towards full normalization," Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter on August 18.
Hoping for progress, Borrell called on both Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti "to be open and flexible to find common ground." Kosovo is a former province of Serbia, which has refused to recognize the country's 2008 declaration of independence. The two sides have engaged in the EU-led dialogue since 2011, aiming to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations. But tensions resurfaced late last month when Pristina declared that Serbian identity documents and vehicle license plates would no longer be valid on Kosovo territory. Serbs, who live mostly in northern Kosovo, reacted with fury, putting up roadblocks and firing their guns into the air and in the direction of Kosovo police officers. No one was injured. Kurti postponed the implementation of the measure for a month, to September 1, after apparent pressure from the West. Before meeting with Borrell, Vucic and Kurti held separate meetings with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on August 17 to discuss the recent tensions. Stoltenberg told the two that the alliance's peacekeeping troops are ready to step in if tensions escalate further.

"While the situation on the ground has improved, it is the responsibility of all parties -- particularly officials from Belgrade and Pristina -- to prevent escalation again," Stoltenberg told a news conference.
"I call on all sides to show restraint and to avoid the violence. NATO continues to monitor closely the situation on the ground. Our KFOR peacekeeping mission remains focused on its UN mandate. Should stability be jeopardized KFOR stands ready to intervene," he said.

With reporting by dpa

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