Munich, 14 February 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Serbia and its former province Kosovo on Friday signed an agreement to restore a railway connection between them, in a step toward the normalization of their relations.
Serbian and Kosovo presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci both attended the signing ceremony, held on the margins of the Munich Security Conference in southern Germany.
The two sides also signed a memorandum of interest on the construction of a highway linking Belgrade with Pristina.
That follows a January 20 agreement on the restoration of flights between the two capitals.
“Another milestone,” Thaci tweeted. “First, the deal on air traffic and today we signed the deal on railways and highways.”
He described the agreements as a “great step towards reaching a final peace agreement.
Vucic said the agreements showed forward movement and that “we feel this will secure a better future and peace in the coming decades.”
Kosovo, with a dominant Albanian population, waged war against Belgrade’s rule in 1998-99 and declared independence in 2008. The two sides are still mutually hostile, with Serbia making every effort to prevent the full recognition of Kosovo.
Belgrade and Pristina embarked on EU-brokered talks aimed at normalizing their ties and boosting stability in the still volatile region, but after some progress, the process stalled.
Belgrade vows it will not actually implement the traffic agreements and other earlier deals as long as Kosovo keeps punitive tariffs on Serbian imports.
Kosovo introduced the tariffs in November 2018 as retaliation to Serbia‘s campaign against its accession to international organizations.
The United States recently became more deeply involved in the normalization process and the latest agreements were struck under the mediation of special US envoy Richard Grenell.