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News 04 Sep 14

Kosovo Negotiators Hobbled by Strife at Home

Kosovo’s representatives in talks with Serbia do not have the mandate to reach agreements because Pristina still has no government three months after national elections, analysts say.

Nektar Zogjani BIRN Pristina

Technical talks between Kosovo and Serbia are expected to continue on Thursday as the two countries’ delegations meet in Brussels, but analysts say that Kosovo cannot sign any fresh agreements until it has a government. 

The two sides are expected on Thursday to discuss their Integrated Border Management deal and the free movement of people.

But Kosovo’s outgoing government and the working groups sent to the Brussels talks “do not have a mandate for reaching any new decisions”, argued Kosovo political analyst Naim Rashiti.

“The Kosovo delegation only has the mandate to discuss the implementation of the [existing] agreements,” he said.

Political disputes between the outgoing administration and opposition parties have prevented a new government from being installed since the polls in Kosovo in June.

But Marko Djuric, director of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo, expressed optimism that progress could be made despite this.

“There are many things that we can do in order to normalise relations [between Belgrade and Pristina] and those things don’t have to depend on talks at the highest political level,” Djuric told Serbian news agency Tanjug on Wednesday.

“Serbia annually sells around 400 million euro’s worth of goods in Kosovo and Metohija, and the vast majority of the consumers are Kosovo Albanians. We want that percentage to be even bigger. We want trade to function smoothly in both directions,” he added.

Kosovo and Serbia are involved in political and technical talks aimed at normalising relations which started in 2011 and are being mediated by the European Union. 

The technical dialogue has resulted in signing of a number of agreements, including the Integrated Border Management deal.

Kosovo’s outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Edita Tahiri, who is in charge of technical dialogue, told Balkan Insight on August 26 that she was optimistic that six border crossings would be constructed soon in line with the IBM agreement.

Outgoing Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said at a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a conference on the Western Balkans last week that he wanted dialogue with Belgrade to continue.

“I would like to assure you, honoured Chancellor Merkel and all present here, that Kosovo is ready to continue the second phase of this dialogue, which should inevitably conclude with an international peace agreement between Kosovo and Serbia,” Thaci said.

Belgrade has flatly rejected this idea however.

"Serbia will not be signing an international peace agreement with Kosovo," said Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.

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