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news 08 Nov 12

Brussels Lauds 'Honest' Kosovo-Serbia Talks

Ashton praises Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic for agreeing on Wednesday to continue Kosovo-Serbia talks and implement deals agreed earlier.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

Kosovo and Serbian leaders held “open and honest” talks, focusing on different ways of normalizing relations between the two sides, the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, said on Wednesday.

“We agreed to continue our work on full implementation of all agreements and welcomed results of a joint working group on the integrated crossings management [IBM] that took place on November 5-6,” Ashton said after the two leaders met in Brussels on Wednesday.

EU-mediated talks in Belgium started in March 2011,  three years after Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

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.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, university diplomas, regional representation and on trade. But not all the deals have been implemented.

Under the terms of the IBM agreement, Kosovo and Serbian customs and police officers will stand under one roof once the agreement is put into operation.

According to the press release from Brussels, both sides also agreed to form a joint technical working group that will prepare a feasibility study for the construction of a highway from Nisin Serbia to the Kosovo capital, Pristina.

Talks also focused on the Serbian-run northern sector of Kosovo.

Thaci said after the meeting that Kosovo had insisted that Serbia make its financing of Serbian-run “parallel institutions” in the north transparent.

Dacic said tthis was not a problem as Serbia itself wanted to make its financial aid to Kosovo Serbs transparent.

“Serbia has nothing to hide. The international community and Kosovo Serbs want to know what Serbia is financing,” Dacic told the Serbian broadcaster B92.

According to him, this did not mean abolition of the so-called parallel institutions in the north of Kosovo.

The parallel institutions in question include town councils, health authorities, post offices and schools.

This was only the second time that Dacic and Thaci had sat at the same table following a historic encounter on October 19 in Brussels.

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

According to Dacic, the next meeting with Thaci will be in December, possibly before December 10, when the European Council meets for a session.

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