Serbia, Kosovo start talks on air, rail transport; association of Serb municipalities contentious

Delegations of Serbia and Kosovo agreed in Brussels on Wednesday evening to start talks on direct air and rail transport connections, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini confirmed in a statement.

The new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, whose delegations were led by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, was held in a very good atmosphere and focused on the implementation of the existing agreements on the recognition of university diplomas and freedom of movement, said Mogherini.

According to her statement, it was confirmed that the mutual recognition of diplomas and professional certificates was becoming a reality. Based on that, students will be able to continue their studies and professionals will be able to improve their employment opportunities both in Serbia and in Kosovo.

Mogherini also said that significant progress had been made in the application of an agreement on the freedom of movement, notably the part related to Serbia and Kosovo registration plates.

She said that the two sides demonstrated commitment to working on the implementation of an agreement on the establishment of an association of Kosovo Serb municipalities in line with the agreements signed so far.

However, judging by statements and interpretations by Serbian and Kosovo officials, the establishment of that association is the toughest part of the EU-facilitated talks between Belgrade and Pristina.

The Belgrade electronic media quoted the head of the Serbian government's office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, as saying that there was a serious chance that the issue of starting work on the statute of the association of Kosovo Serb municipalities would be unblocked after six months and that talks on the matter would start because "the association of Serb municipalities is vital for the survival of the Serb people in Kosovo."

At the same time, Kosovo PM Mustafa said that there were no deadlines for making the said statute and that everything regarding that issue had to proceed in line with the relevant decision by the Kosovo Constitutional Court.

Djuric quickly countered that Mustafa said a "blatant lie" by claiming that it had been agreed that work on the statute of the association of Serb municipalities should proceed based on the decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court.

"It suffices to read the statement by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to establish if Mustafa's statements are true or false," Djuric said.

Responding to a reporter's remark that the Kosovo Constitutional Court had objections to the establishment of the association of Serb municipalities, Djuric stressed that "Serbia does not recognise nor will it recognise the decision of the so-called constitutional court in Pristina."

The Kosovo Constitutional Court in early December 2015 suspended an agreement with Serbia on the establishment of an association of Kosovo Serb municipalities, which the government in Belgrade described as "a blow to the dialogue on the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels" and a "threat to regional stability", underlining that it expected "the EU and the United States to react."

Meanwhile, the Kosovo opposition has staged several protests, some of which were marked by violence, opposing the implementation of the agreement on the establishment of the association of Serb municipalities in Kosovo.

Last update: Thu, 28/01/2016 - 13:18
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