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news 08 Apr 13

Serbia to Request Fresh Kosovo Talks

Serbia says it will seek a new round of talks with Kosovo, blaming the failure of the last round on the lack of safeguards offered to the Kosovo Serbs.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, said that the government will ask for a new round of Belgrade-Pristina talks following the breakdown of the last round.

Progressives Against Agreement with Kosovo

Serbia’s ruling Progressives have decided to propose to the Serbian government not to sign the agreement with Pristina, but to urgently seek more talks, the party’s presidency board stated on Monday morning.

The president of the Progressives, Vucic said that the Serbian delegation was not offered to sign a clear document, but to agree on eight offered principles, out of which two were unacceptable for Belgrade.

He said that Serbia failed to get clarification for several issues such as the presence security forces in Kosovo north and jurisdictions over education, health and justice.

“Regarding that we [Serbia] do not have the paper that we are supposed to decide on and that the proposed solutions have not taken into account not even the minimum of our interests, our proposal is that we should not sign an agreement, but continue the talks and try to find solutions as soon as possible,” Vucic said on Monday.

"Tomorrow [on Monday] we will make a formal response to Brussels and request continuation of the dialogue and guarantees for the safety of the [Kosovo] Serbs," Vucic told Serbian broadcaster TV Pink on Sunday night.

This comes ahead of the Tuesday deadline that the EU has set Serbia to decide on whether to give crucial ground on Kosovo in order to save its EU bid.

The European Commission is due to recommend whether Serbia should open negotiations on April 16.

The eighth round of EU-mediated talks in Brussels on April 2 failed to yield an agreement with Kosovo on the future of the judiciary and on the presence of the Kosovo military in Kosovo Serb areas.

According to Vucic, the offer presented in Brussels was meant "to humiliate us", explaining that it did not include sufficient safety guarantees for Serbs in Kosovo. He also said there was nothing written on paper. Instead the Serbian delegation only heard requests.

"It must be clear that we do want an agreement," Vucic added.

Earlier on Sunday, the Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, said that the government was strongly dedicated to continuing the Kosovo talks and was "unquestionably“ determined to continue with EU integration as well.

“We believe it is not useful to throw away everything that has been done so far,” Dacic said on Sunday after meeting representatives of all political parties in parliament, referring to the eight rounds of Belgrade-Pristina talks and the agreements already made.

Meanwhile, President Tomislav Nikolic said that Serbia had not been offered a proposal but an ultimatum from Brussels. and that he will back any decision that the government makes.

"This format of talks is not acceptable anymore and we will insist that the new talks are held under the auspices of an organization of which we are a member,” Nikolic told a joint press conference with the President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, in Belgrade on Sunday.

The EU-mediated dialogue was launched in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence.

The aim is to normalize relations between the two countries, both of which aspire to EU membership, in the context of Serbia's continued refusal to recognise Kosovo's independence.

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