The signing ceremony occurred on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on February 14 in the presence of the Serbian and Kosovar presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, as well as U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Richard Grenell, who also serves as U.S. ambassador to Germany.
The move comes after the two sides last month signed an agreement on the resumption of commercial flights between Serbia and Kosovo that were halted two decades ago, when the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict escalated.
“Another milestone!” Thaci tweeted after the Munich signing ceremony, calling the agreement a “great step” toward reaching a final deal on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
The Kosovar leader also told reporters he believed that Belgrade and Pristina could reach such a deal this year.
Relations between Pristina and Belgrade have remained strained since the Kosovo war, which claimed more than 10,000 lives and left over 1 million people homeless.
Serbia continues to consider its former province part of its territory, although its independence, declared in 2008, has been recognized by about 100 countries, including the United States.
Talks on normalizing diplomatic relations were derailed in November 2018 by Pristina’s imposition of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods and services in response to Belgrade’s continued lobbying for countries to reverse their recognition of Kosovo.
After the signing ceremony in Munich, Thaci and Vucic thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his leadership.
“A great step towards reaching a final peace agreement b/w two countries,” Thaci wrote in his tweet.
Thaci also told reporters he believed that Belgrade and Pristina could reach a final agreement on normalizing their relations this year.
Vucic also thanked Trump and Grenell, saying in an Instagram post that the agreement signed was of “great importance.”
Grenell hailed Thaci and Vucic for their goodwill, saying, “What I talked to the presidents about is trying as much as possible to concentrate on economic development, jobs for the future.”
“I have to say that from the very beginning both presidents have agreed that that is the focus — how do we move forward on economic development,” he added.