Kosovo. According to Countryaah, talks with Serbia continued at the beginning of the year during mediation by the EU. Both parties were pressured to find a way to co-exist to have a chance at future EU membership. Negotiations broke down several times, but in April Prime Ministers Hashim Thaçi and Ivica Dačíc reached a deal that was seen as a breakthrough. Serbia still did not formally recognize Kosovo but endorsed Pri˘stina’s supremacy over four Serbian-dominated municipalities, which make up one fifth of the country. In return, the municipalities were given far-reaching autonomy and an assurance that NATO and not the Kosovan military would manage security. The settlement met with loud criticism among Serbs who looked betrayed, but also by Albanians who felt that it infringed on Kosovo’s sovereignty.
The agreement was signed in May and ratified by Kosovo’s parliament in June, with the numbers 84–3. As of June, the two countries had special envoys stationed at the EU representation in the counterparty’s capital. Before the November municipal elections, both the Belgrade government and the Serbian Orthodox Church also called on the Kosovo Serbs to participate, as opposed to previous elections. But turnout was low and, due to violence, several polling stations in the divided city of Mitrovica were forced to close prematurely. In three polling stations, the election was made after a few weeks.
In April, an EU-led court in Pristina sentenced five people to up to eight years in prison for illegal organ trafficking, where kidneys were taken from poor people and sold to the rich. Both donors and recipients came from abroad. The trial did not concern accusations that had long figured that organs had been taken from Serbian prisoners of war during the 1998-99 war.
Three former members of the Albanian separatist guerrilla UCK were sentenced in June to between three and six years in prison for war crimes during the war, and in November an EU prosecutor prosecuted 15 people for murder and torture during the war. Several of them were reported to be members of the ruling party PDK (Kosovo Democratic Party), heirs to the UCK.