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EU warns Serbia and Kosovo to make peace or suffer the consequences

Serbia and Kosovo’s ambitions to join the European Union could be in serious jeopardy if the two historic rivals refuse to normalize relations.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a stern warning on a visit to the region to promote the EU’s 6 billion Euros (approximately $6.3 billion) economic plan for the Western Balkans, as part of the plan to integrate the troubled region into the EU.

Von der Leyen said Serbia must de facto recognize Kosovo as an independent nation, and Kosovo must allow for autonomy for ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, where they form a majority. This would effectively fulfill Serbia and Kosovo’s previous commitments negotiated earlier this year, but there is little sign that either side is actually intent on following through.

Conflict between Serbia and Kosovo following the 1999 war is unresolved and is a roadblock to their further European integration. Kosovo was a former province of Serbia and was once integrated within the nation of Yugoslavia. NATO led a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999, which comprised Serbia and Montenegro, to defend Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians against violence from Belgrade. Nearly a decade later, in 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, but Serbia refuses to recognize their independence.

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