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news 11 Oct 12

Brussels Works on New Round of Kosovo Talks

Brussels is holding consultations with both Belgrade and Pristina in an attempt to restart the stalled Kosovo talks.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

EU officials are busy meeting Kosovo and Serbian officials to discuss the form, venue and principal topics of the stalled dialogue.

"Brussels is mediating between Belgrade and Pristina and the final platform will be known once all sides agree on it," an EU diplomat told Balkan Insight.

According to the same source, the EU has expedited efforts to restart the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue before the next EU summit opens in December.

Jelko Kacin, the European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, has held separate talks behind closed doors with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci.

Previously, the two Balkan leaders met the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, in New York.

The EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Pristina started in March 2011, aimed at normalising relations between the two countries, both of which share a desire to join the EU.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade has said it will never recognise the loss of its former province but is open to discussing practical issues.

The two sides have reached deals on trade, freedom of movement, the cadastral registry, mutual recognition of university diplomas, border control management and on the representation of Kosovo at regional meetings.

But not all of the agreements have been implemented. The talks stopped owing to the Serbian general, local and presidential elections.

Alkesandar Vulin, head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, confirmed that work on the platform for the new talks was ongoing. But he declined to reveal any new details.

"When the other party [Kosovo] responds, and when the international community, in whose good intentions I do not doubt, comes up with something concrete, we will immediately reveal our standpoint," Vulin said on Wednesday.

The talks are expected to continue at a higher political level than before. Thaci has already expressed readiness to lead Kosovo's team while his Serbian counterpart Dacic has yet to confirm his role.

Normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is required of both countries if they wish to further their EU progress.

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