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news 02 Dec 11

Belgrade, Pristina Reach Deal on Border Management

After three days of talks in Brussels, Belgrade and Pristina reached a deal on border management.

Bojana Barlovac Belgrade

Representatives of Belgrade and Pristina agreed on integrated management of border crossings on Friday night, Balkan Insight has learned from a Brussels diplomat.

Edita Tahiri, chief Kosovo negotiator, has confirmed for the Radio Television of Kosovo that both sides agreed in principle on the issue of integrated border management and that the agreement should be signed with the mediation of EU’s Robert Cooper as a guarantor.

According to Tahiri, Cooper is supposed to prepare the text of the agreement.

The European Commission developed the IBM concept for border management in the Western Balkans according to which all relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and trade facilitation would work in coordination.

Serbia objected to the presence of Kosovo officials on the border as Belgrade insisted it is not a state border but an "administrative line", separating Serbia proper from Kosovo, for which Serbia insists is still a Serbian province.

On Friday, Kosovo and Serbia teams were back at the negotiating table after two days of talks failed to result in an agreement on borders and on Kosovo's international representation.

The eighth round of talks comes at the time when tensions have escalated in the Serb-run enclave in northern Kosovo on the border with Serbia.

On Monday crowds gathered to prevent NATO peacekeepers in KFOR from dismantling a barricade near the town of Zubin Potok. At least 50 civilians and 30 soldiers have been injured in clashes in northern Kosovo recently.

The Serbs are protesting over the deployment of Kosovo government officials on the border crossings with Serbia.

It also comes ahead of Brussels’ decision on Serbia’s EU candidacy status.

On Friday, citing ‘unacceptable’ attacks on German peacekeepers in Kosovo, Angela Merkel said Serbia does not meet the conditions to obtain EU candidate status.

“At the moment Serbia does not meet the conditions of the EU accession process,” Merkel said.

EU-mediated talks started in March aimed at normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo, both of which share a desire to join the EU one day.  

The two sides have reached deals on trade, freedom of movement, cadastral registry and university diplomas. But Kosovo has accused Serbia of putting most agreements on hold.

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