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Balkans

EU MEDIATOR 02. 04. 2013.   >>  16:38 0

EU MEDIATOR

Brussels: The 8th round of the Kosovo dialogue

The 8th round of the Kosovo dialogue between Belgrade and Priština with EU mediation is being held in Brussels on Tuesday. According to Tanjug news agency, the key question is expected to be autonomy for Serbs in Kosovo.

The Serbian delegation arrived at the building where the negotiations are held first, but did not make any statements to the press. Hashim Thaci and his delegation arrived later, and Thaci addressed reporters to say that he would not accept anything "outside the Constitution of Kosovo", and added: "We are ready for a dialogue, but there will be no change in our position. Kosovo us on the right path to integrations and as the leader of the Kosovo delegation I am ready for agreement in this meeting, if there is an opportunity to reach it."

Unofficially, before their separate meetings with EU's Catherine Ashton, both teams should also hold separate meetings with U.S. State Department official Philip Reeker.

A tense atmosphere and uncertainty is surrounding today's round of talks, and our reporter in Brussels says that it is impossible to predict how long the negotiations would last.

Serbian leadership met in Belgrade yesterday and agreed on the minimum demands and the composition of the delegation, which will, in addition to Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, this time include his first deputy Aleksandar Vučić, and Deputy PM in charge of EU integration Suzana Grubješić.

The Serbian delegation arrived last night in Brussels.

In previous rounds of the dialogue, in addition to the trilateral meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also held separate talks with Dačić and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Also, ahead of several earlier rounds Dačić and Thaci met separately with U.S. diplomat in charge of the Balkans Philip Reeker.

European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin said last night on his Twitter account that Priština's delegation, with Thaci and two of his deputies, had also arrived in Brussels.

Many believe that today's negotiations will be decisive, considering that the European Commission is due to present a progress report on Serbia's EU integration process in mid-April, which will also cover progress "in the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština."

President Tomislav Nikolić said yesterday that Serbia was "not seeking an ideal solution and was rejecting nothing in advance," but that anything less than the demand for the community of Serb municipalities in Kosovo to decide on the judiciary and the police was unaccaptable for Belgrade, and that this must be taking place "without the presence of the military".

Thaci, before leaving for Brussels, said that it would not be easy to reach agreement and reiterated that the community of Serb municipalities "will not be able to have any legislative or executive powers." According to Thaci, the price for the possible failure of the talks "will be paid by Belgrade," in the shape of delays in Serbia's EU integration process.

Ashton on Monday voiced her belief that an agreement between Belgrade and Priština was close at hand, but also cautioned that making a reaching will not be easy.

Other European officials expressed hope for a positive outcome of the dialogue and a compromise solution, but there was no information on whether Ashton would present the two sides with a different proposal than the "non-paper" which Belgrade rejected during the previous round as absolutely unacceptable.

When asked about the possibility of a new proposal, Ashton's spokesperson Maja Kocijancic recalled that "the EU acts as a mediator in the dialogue and that each proposal is based on proposals from Belgrade and Priština."

The U.S. State Department has expressed hope that the new round of dialogue will be successful.

Meanwhile, Serbs in northern Kosovo are already preparing a response in case an agreement is reached that does not suit them, announcing that they will "form an autonomy."

The local Serbs on Monday blocked the administrative line integrated crossing of Jarinje for a little less than an hour, saying they would not participate in the enforcement of any agreement between Belgrade and Priština that was unconstitutional and at the expense of the citizens in the north of the province.

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