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news 31 Oct 12

Clinton Rules Out Changes to Kosovo Border

In an apparent reference to talk of ethnic partition, Hillary Clinton said the US opposes any changes to the borders of Kosovo.

Fatmir Aliu BIRN Pristina

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said Kosovo's final status and borders were a closed chapter, urging Kosovo to resolve remaining issues with Serbia through EU-mediated dialogue.

“We object to any kind of talks about Kosovo’s borders...Kosovo’s borders are set forever and they will not change,” Clinton said after meeting Kosovo’s leaders in Pristina.

Clinton arrived in Pristina together with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Tuesday night, as part of their joint Balkan tour.

The previous day, Clinton and Ashton met Serbian leaders in Belgrade and delivered the message that they did not come to pose ultimatums but to support Serbia on its EU path.

Both leaders praised Kosovo and Serbia for their readiness to continue high-level political talks, and said that the recent meeting held between Prime Ministers Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic was a courageous political step.

“The US calls upon all parties to continue dialogue and the implementation of all the agreements reached [in talks],” Clinton said.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, trade, university diplomas, regional representation, and the integrated border crossing point management. However, not all the deals have been implemented.

Kosovo’s Thaci assured Clinton and Ashton that his country will fulfil the necessary criteria for Kosovo's EU integration.

“We know that dialogue with Serbia is the only path for the integration of Kosovo into the EU and NATO. The normalization of relations with Serbia is in the interest of both countries, and the region as a whole,” Thaci said.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic had similar message after Tuesday’s meeting with Clinton and Ashton.

He said that Belgrade was ready to reach a deal with Kosovo. He pledged to honour and implement existing agreements, and continue talks, adding, however, that Serbia will not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Ashton said the dialogue process was an important tool for reconciliation. “Our main goal is to improve relations and move the process forward,” she said in Pristina.

After Sarajevo, Belgrade and Pristina, Clinton is travelling on to Albania and Croatia.

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