news 13 Nov 12

Thaci Urges Serbia to Resolve Fate of Missing

At their recent talks, the Kosovo leader asked his Serbian counterpart to resolve the issue of missing persons from the 1999 war.

Fatmir Aliu

Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, says he has asked Serbia to cooperate on resolving the fate of the 1,700 missing persons from the 1999 war.

In his report to the Kosovo President, Thaci said he made the request during his last meeting with Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, in Brussels, a press release from the President’s office said.

“At the beginning of the meeting the issue of missing persons was raised, expressing the need and determination to solve this issue as one of the priorities in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue,” Thaci told President Atifete Jahjaga on Monday.

The Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia, Thaci and Dacic, met together with the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, in Brussels on November 7, to mull normalizing ties between the two sides.

EU-mediated talks between Serbia and Kosovo started in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Serbia has vowed never to recognise Kosovo as a state, but says it is open to deals that improve daily lives on both sides of the [from Serbia's point of view unrecognised] border.

Thirteen years after the end of the war in Kosovo, of a total of 6,019 persons reported to the International Red Cross as missing, over 1,700 remain unaccounted for. Most are Albanian.

At a separate meeting of his Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, Thaci said that "Washington and Brussels will put pressure on Serbia to accelerate the issue of missing persons."

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, university diplomas, regional representation and on trade. But not all the deals have been implemented.

In the second high level meeting, both sides agreed to continue working on the implementation of all the earlier agreed deals.

Thaci and Dacic also agreed to form a joint working group to handle the sensitive deal on borders, under the formula known as Integrated Border Management, IBM.

Thacis is expected to inform the Kosovo parliament on Friday of the details of the meeting with his Serbian counterpart, and elaborate ways forward in the talks.

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