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The US and EU diplomacy chiefs have urged Serbia to continue talks with Kosovo in order to realise its European destiny.
|Ashton, Clinton, Nikolic and Dacic. Photo by Beta|
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton, said after meetings with Serbian leaders on Tuesday that they did not come to pose ultimatums but to support Serbia on its EU path.
"That's why we strongly support the dialogue," Clinton told reporters referring to the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina talks in Brussels.
Ashton said that the future of Serbia lay within the EU, and talks with Serbian leaders were focused on Serbia's future moves in order to achieve that goal.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said after the meeting that Belgrade was ready to reach a deal with Kosovo but will not recognize the former province's independence, proclaimed in 2008.
"The government has taken the responsibility to implement the agreements [with Kosovo] that the previous government reached, and will continue the talks," Dacic said on Tuesday.
The EU-mediated talks, aimed at normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, started last March.
So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, university diplomas and regional representation. However, not all the deals have been implemented.
Some 4,000 Serbian policemen and a number of US FBI police provided security in the Serbian capital ahead of Clintin's visit.
The opposition nationalist Serbian Radical Party staged a peaceful protest against the visit in front of the Serbian Presidency building on Tuesday.
On Monday evening, right-wingers staged a protest in the city centre, waving Serbian flags. Nationalists still strongly resent America's crucial military and diplomatic support for Kosovo's independence.
Clinton's husband, Bill, was US President during NATO's air war against Serbia in 1999, which forced Serbia to relinquish de facto control of the then province.
Clinton and Ashton come to Belgrade after visiting Sarajevo, Bosnia. The pair are travelling on to Kosovo, Albania and Croatia.
Clinton last visited the Balkans in 2010.
Belgrade and Pristina have failed to make headway during negotiations on an international dialling code for Kosovo and a licence for a Serbian mobile phone operator in Kosovo.
The Red Cross appealed for new information to help find the bodies of Kosovo’s 1,700 wartime missing, but their families accused Serbia of concealing the locations of graves.
Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo have agreed on a harmonized plan to implement the recent Brussels-led agreement, the EU foreign policy chief announced.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between Kosovo and Serbia, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle urged both sides to take real steps to implement their EU-brokered agreement.
As Pristina and Belgrade seek agreement on implementing their EU-brokered deal, Albanian leaders in Serbia’s Presevo Valley are urging the Kosovo authorities to help them win more rights.
Despite two failed meetings about the implementation of the EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia, officials hope that prime ministerial talks next week will see progress.
NATO’s Kosovo force warned that only authorised policing groups are allowed to carry weapons in northern Kosovo, not Serb-organised ‘civil defence’ units.
After the two delegations failed to agree an action plan, the Serbian Prime Minister said the EU-led deal will be finalised following direct meetings with his Kosovo counterpart.
Pristina and Belgrade delegations hold their second meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss implementing the EU-led agreement on normalizing relations.
Serbia’s former top official for Kosovo says only Belgrade can pursue Serbs in North to respect EU-brokered agreement.
Serbian parliament gave the green light for the EU-backed agreement on the integration of the Serb minority in Kosovo when it adopted the government’s report on the Belgrade, Pristina talks.
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian deputy prime minister, said the government will meet the request of Serbs from Kosovo and call a referendum on the Belgrade-Pristina deal.
Teams from Kosovo and Serbia have headed to Brussels to agree on implementing the recently agreed EU-led deal.
After a long and tense debate on Sunday night that was interrupted by protests, parliament in Pristina voted for the deal with Belgrade on the future of Serb-run northern Kosovo.
As the government has approved the Belgrade-Pristina agreement on Monday, the nationalist opposition Democratic Party of Serbia holds a protest.
Belgrade and Pristina finally agreed on the future of Serb-run North Kosovo in the tenth round of EU-led talks on Friday.