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Blerim Shala, an MP and the vice-president of an opposition party, has been appointed Kosovo's Political Coordinator in the EU-led talks with Serbia.
Kosovo's President, Atifete Jahjaga, on Thursday named Blerim Shala as the country's political coordinator in the EU-led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Shala’s appointment was publicised on Thursday by the President’s office.
EU-mediated talks in Belgium started in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.
Serbia has vowed never to recognise Kosovo as a state, but says it is open to deals that improve daily lives on both sides of the [from Serbia's point of view unrecognised] border.
Two high-level political meetings took place recently between the two prime ministers, Ivica Dacic of Serbia and Hashim Thaci of Kosovo.
Shala is vice-president of the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and is currently a lawmaker in parliament.
Shala was also in charge of coordination in Kosovo’s former Unity Team from 2006 to 2008.
This had a mandate to negotiate with Serbia on Kosovo's final status under UN’s auspices. It led later to the so-called Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo's independence, which Belgrade refused to endorse.
No details were given on Shala's authority, or on whether Kosovo's current envoy in talks with Serbia, Edita Tahiri will retain her position.
The Kosovo government, in a press release, welcomed Shala's appointment.
As EU officials voice optimism that Kosovo and Serbia will shortly reach a deal on the Serb-run north of Kosovo, Serbian top officials met ahead of a 'historic' round of talks.
Kosovo and Serbia leaders have already reached a substantive agreement on the future Association of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo and will announce the outcome on April 2, an EU diplomat told Balkan Insight.
Serbia and Kosovo are "close" to hashing out a deal on the Serb-run north of Kosovo, planned to be finalised in Brussels at the next round of talks on April 2.
While Kosovo leaders call for a deal on the Serb-run north as soon as possible, Serbian officials warn that a final agreement is not yet in sight.
Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele suggested a stabilisation deal with Brussels is in sight this June if Kosovo ploughs on with EU-minded reforms.
The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, will meet Kosovo and Serbian officials for consultations next week ahead of the next meeting on normalizing relations.
Opposition MPs interrupted Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on Thursday - angered by his decision to permit local authorities in the Serb-run north to form an 'association'.
As the EU-led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is set to resume on March 4, the two sides have made some advances on Serb-run northern Kosovo while areas of disagreement remain.
The EU’s representative in Kosovo, Samuel Zbogar, said the issue of the 1,762 people missing since the late 1990s war with Serbian forces was an “emotional bomb”.
Brussels is likely to reward Serbia for normalising relations with Kosovo with a 'conditional' start date for accession talks, sources told Balkan Insight.
Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci failed to iron out their differences on the Serb-run north of Kosovo - but at least pledged to keep talking.
Kosovo and Serbia are expected to come closer to an understanding on Serbian-financed institutions in northern Kosovo in their talks in Brussels - but a think tank warns that the situation remains volatile.
The fifth EU-mediated meeting between Kosovo and Serbia's prime ministers takes place on Tuesday but little is known about what's been discussed at the talks so far.
Presidents Atifete Jahjaga and Tomislav Nikolic pledged their commitment to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and their respective European agendas after their historic meeting on Wednesday.
The Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia will sit down at the same table on Wednesday for the first time since Kosovo declared independence in 2008 in order to "normalise" relations.
Belgrade and Pristina finally agreed on the future of Serb-run North Kosovo in the tenth round of EU-led talks on Friday.