Ashton Says Kosovo-Serbia Talks Should Resume

Talks aimed at normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia, are due to resume after Serbia forms a new government, Ashton tells Kosovo leader Hashim Thaci.Pristina and Belgrade are set to resume talks once a new government in Serbia is in place, the EU’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, announced on Wednesday.

Following a meeting with Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, in Brussels, the EU’s Foreign Affairs chief called on both parties to implement the set of agreements they previously reached under Brussels’ patronage.“The High Representative underlined the importance of full implementation by both sides of all the agreements reached in the dialogue,” Ashton’s office said.

“She has also stressed that once the new government is in place in Belgrade, talks need to resume as swiftly as possible,” Ashton added.

Since March 2011, the EU has been facilitating a technical dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which, according to a UN General Assembly resolution, is aimed at normalizing the relationship between parties – three years after Kosovo declared independence, which Serbia refuses to recognize.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, mutual recognition of university diplomas and representation of Kosovo at regional meetings. However, Pristina has accused Belgrade of putting most agreements on hold.

Kosovo’s government in a press release issued after the meeting in Brussels said that implementation of the agreements is a precondition for the continuation of the dialogue.

“It was a common conclusion that the implementation of the agreements reached in practice is an imperative for continuing talks between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia,” the government in Pristina said.

Talks were put on hold following the May general elections in Serbia. Belgrade has since indicated that it intends to move the process onto a higher political level, at the level of Prime Ministers or Presidents, rather than at the level of envoys as has been the case so far.

Serbia has meanwhile asked the United Nations to assume a role in the next round of dialogue where the two sides are expected to talk about the northern, Serb-run part of Kosovo, over which the Albanian-led government in Pristina has no control.

Media in Pristina and Belgrade have been speculating that the north of Kosovo may be offered special status or autonomy, but Kosovo’s government has publicly rejected such an option.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in March 2008, and has since been recognized by 89 states, including the US and 22 of the 27 EU member states.

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