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news 04 Dec 12

Kosovo, Serbia Leaders Set For Third Meeting

Future of Serb-run north and implementing a deal on control of the borders are likely to dominate talks in Brussels between Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic.

Edona Peci BIRN Pristina

The Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia are to meet on Tuesday for the third time in Brussels with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton, to discuss unresolved issues.

Before heading to Brussels, Serbian PM Ivica Dacic said that he was going to the meeting to try "to save what can be saved".

"We have nothing to lose, we have lost everything, we are talking about getting something back," Dacic told reporters before leaving for Brussels. 

Talking about the upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci said: “Discussions will be held on the possibilities… of opening liaison offices for Kosovo in Belgrade and Serbia’s in Pristina.

“We’ll also consider the options to dynamise the agenda on implementing an infrastructural project between Kosovo and Serbia - the highway towards the European corridor in Serbia,” he added.

The EU-led technical dialogue for normalizing relations between Pristina and Belgrade began in March 2011.

Seven agreements were reached during nine rounds of talks held between Kosovo’s delegation head, Edita Tahiri, her Serbian counterpart, Borko Stefanovic and the EU mediator, Robert Cooper.

In the meantime, technical groups were set up to work on putting into action agreements on civil registries, regional cooperation, freedom of movement, a border deal known as “Integrated Border Management”, mutual recognition of each others’ college diplomas and other issues.

Yet, none of the agreements has been fully implemented. The dialogue then paused for presidential, general, local elections to be held in Serbia in May 2012.

Cooper’s and Tahiri’s mandates expired in the meantime, while the new government in Serbia has appointed Dejan Pavicevic as the head of the Serbian delegation.

The political coordinator of the dialogue, Blerim Shala, a deputy head of the oppositional Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, will also be part of the delegation meeting Dacic in Ashton’s office on Tuesday.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic met for the first time on October 19 in Brussels with Ashton, who is now the main mediator in talks between both parties.
 
Another meeting between Thaci, Dacic and Ashton followed in November but little information was published on the discussion points.

The future of the Serb-run north of Kosovo is likely to be a tough issue on the agenda of the upcoming talks, experts say.

Kosovo officials on Monday also said they expected implementation of the Integrated Border Management agreement with Serbia to start on December 10.

Local Serbs in northern Kosovo bitterly oppose the agreement as tantamount to recognition of Kosovo’s statehood, which Belgrade has vowed never to accept.

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