New cornerstones of Balkan peace

Back in March, the European Union brokered an agreement between the Balkan states of Serbia and Kosovo to normalize ties. The deal left observers clinging to an uncertain hope. Twenty-five years after the two states broke apart in the violent fragmenting of what was then Yugoslavia, they remain tense neighbors. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić backed the accord but withheld his signature (Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence).

But yesterday the two sides took their first step beyond mere good faith. Meeting in Brussels, Mr. Vučić and his counterpart, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, pledged to work together to locate people who disappeared during the 1998-99 war. This victims-first focus shows how empathy and truth are forerunners to justice and peace. It acknowledges dignity over ethnic identity.

“Resolving the issue of Missing Persons is not only a humanitarian obligation,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief mediator, said in a statement after a meeting of the Balkan leaders in Brussels. “It is also a crucial enabler for reconciliation and trust between people.”

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