Serbia Seeks Kosovo Talks Without Preconditions

Head of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo says that Belgrade wishes to restart negotiations with Pristina as long as there are no preconditions.Aleksandar Vulin, head of the Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo, said that Serbia was “ready for negotiations and wants to negotiate” with the breakway former province.

“However, we do not wish to be faced with any preconditions and conditions for those negotiations,” Vulin added.The EU launched a dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo in March 2011 with the aim of normalising tense relations between Serbia and Kosovo, whose independence, declared in 2008, Belgrade does not recognise.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, mutual recognition of university diplomas and on the representation of Kosovo at regional meetings attended by Serbia.

Talks were put on hold following the May general elections in Serbia, which resulted in the Democrats, led by Boris Tadic, losing power. The talks are due to restart by the end of September.

Vulin said Serbia would not be entering talks “in order to read out a list of ultimatums”, but rather to speak “on behalf of citizens who live in the area of Kosovo and Metohija”.

Vulin spent the weekend in the Serb-run northern section of Kosovo where he met local Serbian leaders and insisted that Serbia would never give up on its people in Kosovo or stop fighting for Kosovo.

But at the end of his two-day visit, Vulin warned that there would be events “that we will be able to influence and those that we will not”.

He added he was encouraged by what he had seen, and by the success of local administrations in addressing problems, as well as by the economic potentials of the area.

“It takes courage to live here and the [Serbian] government must be there to help you, to protect you,” he said.

“This is our duty, something that goes without saying, and it must remain so in the future,” Vulin added.

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