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news 27 Dec 12

Serbia to Adopt Kosovo Platform in New Year

As Kosovo Serbs lend support to Serbia's 'platform' on Kosovo, the document is to go before parliament by January 7.

Bojana Barlovac BIRN Belgrade

After several hours of discussion, 150 representatives from the Serb-run north of Kosovo on Tuesday offered to support the Serbian government's official platform for Kosovo.

The platform demands a high level of territorial and political autonomy for Serbian municipalities throughout Kosovo.

Northern Kosovo, which borders Serbia, is almost entirely comprised of Serbs and the authorities there do not recognise Kosovo's 2008 independence or the government in Pristina.

The area remains under the day-to-day control of so-called parallel institutions, funded by Belgrade, including town councils, health authorities, post offices and schools.

Serbia's President, Tomislav Nikolic, is drafting principles derived from the platform that will be included in a special parliamentary resolution to be adopted by January 7 - the day when Serb Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas.

"I would like to see parliament stand behind a document that irritates nobody, except those who say that Kosovo is independent," Nikolic said on Tuesday. 

The Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, explained that the draft platform is made up of three documents.

"The first contains the basic principles... that we do not accept Kosovo's independence and are interested in the status of Kosovo Serbs, while the conversation must be tied to the European integration process," Dacic said on Tuesday.

The second contains Serbia's position on Kosovo Serb autonomy within an entity that is not recognised as independent, he added, while the third part is an analysis of more general foreign political and regional circumstances.

Dacic said parliament would only on the first section, while the rest will form the foundation for future talks.

The EU-led talks are expected to resume on January 17 when the Kosovo and Serbian Prime Ministers, Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic, are to meet for the fourth time in Brussels.

Talks between Serbia and Kosovo started in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on the freedom of movement, university diplomas, representation at regional meetings and on trade. Not all the deals have been implemented, however.

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