EU’s growth plan for Western Balkans can only be achieved if Serbia and Kosovo normalize relations, says Ursula von der Leyen.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday that Serbia should “de facto” recognize Kosovo in order to move forward on normalizing their relations.
“We also invite Kosovo to start the procedure for the implementation of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities (in northern Kosovo) while Serbia must accept the de-facto recognition. This is the only way forward,” von der Leyen said during a visit to Kosovo’s capital Pristina.
Addressing the media after meeting with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, she said the European Union is fully committed to a common future “where all six Western Balkan partners are part of our Union” with a growth plan.
”We all know that we can only achieve all these steps forward and successes if Kosovo and Serbia normalize their relations. It is absolutely crucial for both to engage, to cooperate,” she added.
Osmani said that she and von der Leyen discussed the EU’s new growth plan for the Western Balkans, which envisages Kosovo’s integration into the European market.
“For us, EU and NATO (membership) is not just a goal, but the main motivation that ensures the daily actions of our institutions,” she said.
Osmani said she read the draft statute presented by EU leaders on the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities in the municipalities where mostly Serbs live in the country and that Kosovo’s Constitutional Court should decide whether it is in compliance with the country’s laws.
Von der Leyen also met with Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
She is currently on a mini tour of the Western Balkans and began her visit to the region on Sunday with North Macedonia. She will also visit Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after Kosovo.