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news 12 Jun 13

Serbia-Kosovo Talks Stall Over Dialling Code

Belgrade and Pristina have failed to make headway during negotiations on an international dialling code for Kosovo and a licence for a Serbian mobile phone operator in Kosovo.

Beta, Tanjug Belgrade

Talks between Belgrade and Pristina on landline and mobile phone services continued for five hours in Brussels on Tuesday but ended without any progress.

"We are where we were before this round of negotiations," said Rasim Ljajic, Serbia’s telecommunications minister, after a meeting with Kosovo's deputy prime minister Edita Tahiri.

According to the Ljajic, Serbia tabled five different compromise proposals and solutions but none was accepted.

The dispute is over an international calling code for Kosovo and the presence of mobile network operators in the Serb-run north of Kosovo.

"Serbia is insisting that it be the one to apply for a dialling code, which it would then allow Kosovo to use, while Pristina wants Kosovo to apply for the code and Serbia not to stand in its way," Ljajic said.

Kosovo proposed a compromise solution of a third country requesting the code, which was also rejected.

Ljajic also said that Kosovo was refusing to issue Serbian operator Telekom Srbija a licence for northern Kosovo.

After the meeting which was mediated by Pierre Mirel, the European Commission's director for the western Balkans, Tahiri and Ljajic returned home to hold consultations and come up with new proposals. If they fail to reach a deal, the problem will be discussed at a higher level.

The Serbian and Kosovo prime ministers, Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, are expected to meet in Brussels on June 20.

Kosovo and Serbia started their EU-led talks in March 2011. On April 19, they struck a historic deal intended to normalise relations and boost both sides' progress towards the EU.

The deal primarily addresses the vexed issue of Serbian state-run ‘parallel institutions’ in the north of Kosovo, where most of the population are ethnic Serbs.

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