Serbia, Kosovo Resume EU-Brokered Talks On Normalizing Ties.

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo on June 15 are relaunching EU-mediated talks in Brussels that are aimed at normalizing their relations.

The two Balkan neighbors last met a year ago as part of decade-long negotiations aimed at resolving disputes that continue to taint relations more than 20 years after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War.

The meeting on June 15 is the first since Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti, a left-wing reformist, claimed a landmark victory in February's parliamentary elections -- pledging to take a new tack in talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

"This dialogue is not going to be easy. But this process, and this sincere engagement by both sides, is necessary for the benefit of the people of Kosovo and Serbia," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on June 15 ahead of the bilateral meetings in Brussels.

"There is a new momentum in Europe about the discussions on the Western Balkans and it is important for the whole region to seize this opportunity," Borrell said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nearly a decade after the war between ethnic Albanian separatists and the forces of rump Yugoslavia. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign that drove Belgrade's troops out.

For nearly a decade, a NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) provided security while a United Nations administration temporarily ran Kosovo.

Kosovo's independence has been recognized by more than 100 countries including the United States and most of the European Union. But Serbia still considers the territory as its southern province, and is supported by Russia and China.
Both Washington and Brussels insist that normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is essential for their further integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.

With reporting by AFP

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