The head of the Kosovo negotiating team, Besnik Bislimi (left), EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčak (center), and Serbia's chief negotiator Petar Petković (composite file photo)
Kosovo and Serbia have agreed to adopt a road map for the implementation of energy agreements within an EU-led dialogue that aims to reach a comprehensive agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on the normalization of relations.
The road map is the first agreement the parties have reached since EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak began holding talks within the dialogue.
Lajcak said on Twitter on June 21 that he was pleased to announce that Kosovo and Serbia had “adopted the Energy Agreements’ Implementation Roadmap in the framework of the EU-facilitated Dialogue,” calling the move “a major step forward.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also hailed the agreement. “This is a big & important step forward in the EU-facilitated Dialogue and will deliver concrete results for all citizens,” Borrell said on Twitter .
He congratulated Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti on agreeing on the road map, which encourages both sides to make further progress in all other unresolved issues. The European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement that the road map sets concrete steps for implementing energy agreements from 2013 and 2015. "With today's agreement, Elektrosever, a Serbian-owned company established in Kosovo and under Kosovo law, will start supplying electricity to consumers in four Serb-majority municipalities in the north," the EEAS said. Serbia's chief negotiator Petar Petkovic said the road map represents a set of steps, deadlines, and responsibilities for both parties, and all deadlines run from the moment when Elektrosever receives a supply license. "Elektrosever will also have important distribution services, which we asked for and insisted on,” Petkovic said. In addition, it will handle billing and network maintenance. “This is very important because it means we have independence in electricity supply in the north of Kosovo and Metohija," Petkovic said. The statement also says the road map opens the way to ending “nontransparent and unregulated” practices, a veiled reference to four northern municipalities whose residents have not paid their electricity bills for more than two decades.
Kosovo's chief negotiator, Besnik Bislimi, said the agreement allows for the invoicing of electricity in the four northern municipalities in line with Kosovo's laws and regulatory system.
Kosovo and Serbia have engaged in the EU-led dialogue since 2011, aiming to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations. Vucic last month pledged to keep the Balkan country on its EU membership path as he was sworn in for a second term. He said Serbia’s priority will be joining the 27-member bloc and he urged the incoming government that will take over in July to step up efforts toward this goal. Against the background of the war in Ukraine, Kurti has said that for his country there is no alternative to membership in not only the EU but NATO as well. Kosovo declared its independent from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia doesn’t recognize it as independent, while most EU countries do.