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News 22 Jan 13

Kosovo, Serbian Presidents May Meet Soon

Atifete Jahjaga and Tomislav Nikolic are likely to meet in February or March, the office of the Kosovo President has confirmed.

Edona Peci, Gordana Andric BIRN Pristina, Belgrade

Ramush Tahiri, political advisor to the President of Kosovo, told Kosovo's public broadcaster on January 21 that Atifete Jahjaga is likely to meet her Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, late in February or early in March.

Arber Vllahiu, the Kosovo President's spokesperson, told Balkan Insight that the meeting will be held “soon”, while declining to name a date.

“The modalities of the meeting are being prepared by the European Union,” Vllahiu said.

According to Tahiri, the two Presidents will discuss the topics already opened up in the EU-led Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

The Serbian President’s office told Balkan Insight that while no meeting has been scheduled, Nikolic is ready to meet Jahjaga in support of the normalisation of relations between the two countries.

A meeting between Jahjaga and Nikolic meeting would be the first ever meeting between the heads of state of Kosovo and Serbia.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade strongly contests this, maintaining that it will never recognise the independence of what it still calls its "southern province".

However, Serbia has joined EU-led talks aimed at normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which started in March 2011 in Brussels.

The two sides have since reached agreements on border management, which was part of a freedom of movement deal, as well as deals on Kosovo’s representation at regional meetings, university diplomas and trade.

In October 2012, Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, the Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, met for the first time in Brussels.

They have since met three times more, resulting in an agreement to implement an earlier deal on border controls.

Normalisation of relations is the key precondition for both Serbia and Kosovo as they pursue their goals of eventual EU membership.

 

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