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news 10 Dec 12

Kosovo, Serbia Put Border Deal in Action

Belgrade and Pristina have started implementing the Integrated Border Management, IBM, agreement at two crossing points on Monday morning.

Edona Peci, Bojana Barlovac BIRN Pristina, Belgrade

Fisnik Rexhepi, the head of Pristina's working group on the IBM agreement, said that “the implementation of the agreement has commenced today as of 8am local time at the Merdare crossing point“.

“In Jarinje we had some technical difficulties as the Serbian side couldn’t complete all preparations according to the agreement. Anyway, it is important to stress that the implementation of the agreement has also started in Jarinje,” Rexhepi added.

There is a total of six containers at Jarinje which are used by the EU Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo, EULEX, and Serbian police officers. 
Members of the EULEX and Serbia's police are located some ten metres from each other. 

The agreement on the IBM, achieved in the framework of the EU facilitated dialogue for normalizing relations between Pristina and Belgrade, was finalised on December 4 when Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, met with EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Catherine Ashton.

Under the terms of the IBM agreement, all relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and trade facilitation, both from Kosovo and Serbia, would work in coordination.

On the ground, it would be mean that Kosovo and Serbian customs and police officers will be under one roof once the agreement becomes operational.

According to the conclusions of the IBM working group, two checkpoints - Jarinje and Merdare - will be operational on December 10.

Two more gates, Brnjak and Dheu i Bardhe, are due to open on December 31. Rexhepi outlined that all agreements achieved so far with Belgrade are based “on reciprocity”.

“The agreement will be implemented based on the show of good will by both parties. If there is no such good will on Serbia’s side, there is no reason for us to continue the implementation of the agreement”, Rexhepi added.

Dejan Pavicevic, the head of Belgrade's negotiating team in the EU-led dialogue, said that there were no national symbols at the border crossings.

"As it was the case before, the citizens are only required to show ID card when crossing," Pavicevic said.

He explained that when someone holding identity documents issued in Kosovo comes to the crossing, the Serbian police would provide them with a so-called entrance-exit document.

During the last week locals in the Serb-run northern Kosovo have been blocking the border crossing of Jarinje dissatisfied with the border deal. However, following the meeting with Serbia’s top officials on Thursday, representatives of Serbs in the North decided to remove the blockage.

Besides the IBM agreement, which is part of the freedom of movement deal, Pristina and Belgrade have also reached deals on representation at regional meetings, university diplomas and on trade. Not all agreements have been implemented so far.

The implementation of all agreements, especially the one on the IBM, is one of the key conditions for Serbia to start the EU accession talks.

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