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News 04 Jan 13

Pristina and Belgrade to Discuss Northern Kosovo

Serb-run Northern Kosovo will be on the agenda of the January meeting between the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and the Kosovo and Serbian leaders.

Edona Peci Pristina

Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, are to meet again in Brussels on January 17 within the framework of the EU-mediated dialogue on normalization of relations between both parties.

On 17 January, Ashton and both Prime Ministers will meet to review progress made, especially on implementation of a border agreement, and, as agreed on 4 December, they will also discuss northern Kosovo, Ashton’s Deputy Spokesperson, Sebastien Brabant, told BIRN.

The Serb-run northern segment of Kosovo is beyond the remit of the Kosovo government, does not acknowledge the authority of Kosovo's instution, nor recognises Kosovo's independence from Serbia, proclaimed in 2008.

The Kosovo authorities had previously announced that they would raise the issue of Serbian government-financed so-called “parallel institutions” operating in the north of Kosovo, but Ashton’s office did not clarify whether they would, in fact, feature in the discussion.

The upcoming Thaci-Ashton-Dacic meeting is scheduled to be held more than a week after Serbia’s parliament discusses the Serbian government’s agreed “platform” on Kosovo.

The document, which is expected to dominate a parliamentary session in Belgrade next week, demands a high level of territorial and political autonomy for Serbian municipalities in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s government has dismissed the plan, saying it “cannot be realized in any circumstances”.

Bekim Collaku, a political advisor to Kosovo’s Prime Minister, on Thursday described the Serbian platform on Kosovo as “ridiculous”.

"Its political and practical importance in the context of the dialogue is zero,” Collaku told the local media.

The EU-led dialogue aiming to normalize relations between Pristina and Belgrade was launched in March 2011. In October 19, the level of the talks was raised, and the main role in the process given to Thaci and Dacic.

Seven agreements were reached during nine rounds of talks on issues such as freedom of movement, regional cooperation, recognition of diplomas, the civil registry and Integrated Border Management, IBM.

On December 10, 2012, Kosovo and Serbia started to implement the IBM deal at the crossing points in Merdare and Jarinje, and from December 31 the agreement has also been implemented at the crossing points of Brnjak and Dheu i Bardhe.

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