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News 15 Nov 12

Kosovo Serb Drivers Protest Border Agreement

Protest ride aims to highlight Kosovo Serb unhappiness with deal between Kosovo and Serbia on management of crossings.

Tanjug, Kosovo press

Dozens of vehicles took part in a protest ride from Kosovska Mitrovica to the Jarinje border crossing on Thursday, protesting against an EU-brokered agreement between Serbia and Kosovo on a border crossings management deal.

The protest ride was organized by the Serbo-Slavic Solidarity Association and the People’s Movement Homeland.

One organizer, Vladimir Rakic, said that the peaceful protest ride sent a message to the international community and to the Belgrade authorities that they do not agree with the agreement, which is based on the concept of “Integrated Border Management” – both sides operating under one roof.

“We do not agree with any form of borders between Kosovo and Serbia and this is a way of showing our disagreement,” he said.

Pilot projects will be implemented at the Jarinje and Merdare border crossings in accordance with the agreement reached by Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels.

On Wednesday, the head of Serbia’s office for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Dejan Pavicevic, said the agreement did not imply recognition of the existence of a state border between Kosovo and Serbia

Pavicevic also noted that when the agreement on the borders was reached, no one had discussed where the fees collected on the crossings should go, and he expected this to be a topic in the upcoming negotiations.

Serbia wants part of the income from the crossings to go to local Serb-run municipal authorities in the north of Kosovo while the rest will go to Pristina.

EU-mediated talks in Brussels between the two sides started in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared 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.

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