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news 07 Nov 12

Kosovo, Serbia PMs to Meet Again in Brussels

Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic are meeting for a second time in Brussels to discuss normalization of relations between the two estranged neighbours.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

The Kosovo and Serbian leaders are expected to hold a joint meeting with the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels on Wednesday, Ashton's office has confirmed.

"The goal of the meeting is continuation of the dialogue with a view to normalization of relations between the two parties," Ashton's statement read.

This will be the second time that Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci will sit at the same table following a historic encounter on October 19 in Brussels.

The first meeting came as surprise, as Serbia bitterly opposes Kosovo’s independence, proclaimed in 2008, insists that Kosovo remains a province of Serbia.

Belgrade has since boycotted all meetings and summits at which Kosovo officials were represented under the name of “Kosovo”.

The first meeting prompted nationalist protests in Pristina, where 18 police officers and 10 activists from the opposition Vetevendosje movement were injured in clashes.

An EU diplomat told Balkan Insight that the Kosovo and Serbian leaders, as was the case last time, will hold separate meetings with Ashton after which all three will attend a joint meeting at a working dinner.

The same source said that the talks will focus on an agreed deal on "integrated border management" and on implementation of other deals already reached in the talks.

EU-mediated talks started in March 2011. 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.

The Kosovo daily newspaper Express has indicated the second meeting will also concentrate on the opening of representative offices for both countries in Belgrade and Pristina.

Ahead of the meeting, Dacic expressed expectations that the resumption of dialogue will leadd to a general settlement of differences between the two.

"We have made an effort to renew the dialogue with Pristina and we want not only to resolve technical issues, but to solve all unresolved and disputed matters within this cabinet's term," Dacic said at a joint news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on Monday.

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