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news 15 May 13

EU’s Ashton Summons Dacic and Thaci

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has invited the Serbian and Kosovo prime ministers to a meeting next week to discuss how to implement their Brussels-brokered deal.

BIRN, Beta Belgrade

Ashton said she had invited the two prime ministers to meet on May 21 to discuss the joint steps they must take to implement the deal, intended to help normalise relations, that was reached by Serbia and Kosovo last month.

"Swift implementation of the agreement is of key importance and I am truly looking forward to discussing the matter with the two prime ministers," Ashton said in a written statement.

The summit comes after delegations from Serbia and Kosovo failed to agree on ways to implement the EU-brokered deal on May 8.

The agreement is intended to deal with parallel institutions set up by Serbs in parts of northern Kosovo that reject Pristina’s control.

It envisions that the local Serbian community in Kosovo will choose its own police commanders, while the composition of the police generally will reflect the ethnic structure on the ground. The draft also proposes more judges coming from the Serbian minority.

Marko Djuric, advisor to Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, who led the Belgrade team in talks on implementing the deal, said that Serbia had presented a comprehensive plan but the Kosovo delegation walked out of the meeting on May 8.

The Kosovo government said however that the Serbian delegation had raised new issues in the talks that were not part of the original document.

On Tuesday, Vincent Degert, the head of the EU delegation to Serbia, said that the Serbian and Kosovo prime ministers would become involved in the negotiations if there were any problems in sorting out the agreement, and that "additional arbitration at a higher, political level may be necessary".

The EU-mediated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia was launched in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence.

The aim was to normalise relations between the two countries, both of which aspire to EU membership, in the context of Serbia's continued refusal to recognise Kosovo's independence.

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