Serbia and Kosova resume talks

2011-09-02 21:01

Brussels/Belgrade - Kosovo and Serbia resumed their interrupted dialogue on Friday in Brussels, with negotiators saying a breakthrough was likely in the trade row that led to renewed violence in the former province.

An agreement was possible "on the mutual recognition of customs stamps," Kosovo's Edita Tahiri told reporters ahead of the meeting, which was scheduled to last until the evening.

She said the two sides were also set to discuss telecommunications and regional cooperation, particularly Serbia's veto on Kosovo's participation in regional conferences.

An agreement was also possible on the less contentious issue of cadastre registries, Belgrade's negotiator Borislav Stefanovic said.

The talks, which have been facilitated by the European Union since March, broke off in July after five rounds, when Belgrade refused to accept a Kosovo customs seal.

Effective embargo prolonged

The move prolonged an effective embargo on the transit of goods from the mostly Albanian Kosovo through Serbian borders and provoked Pristina into slapping a trade embargo on Serbian goods.

The government in Pristina then moved to seize control over the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings, which connect the Serb-dominated northern Kosovo with Serbia proper.

That erupted into violence in which a Kosovo policeman was fatally shot and Nato peacekeepers had to step in and assume control over the border crossings.

Tensions remain high in the north, with Serbs still sporadically blocking roads and Nato troops stationed at the border. Tahiri and Stefanovic stressed that northern Kosovo was not on the agenda of talks on Friday.

Agreement of customs stamps

A possible agreement on customs stamps would relate to the transit of people and goods, but not to the status of the border crossings and northern Kosovo, Stefanovic said.

Pristina officials say the status of Serb enclaves, of which the one in the north is the largest and the only one adjacent to Serbia proper, is to be regulated in line with a blueprint adopted by the West ahead of Kosovo's secession from Serbia in 2008.

Kosovo's split from Serbia was recognised by the big western powers, 22 out of the 27 EU nations and almost all countries in the region. Belgrade, however, still regards the province as its soil.

The talks in Brussels were intended to resolve technical, "real-life" issues stemming from the secession and Serbia's refusal to acknowledge Kosovo.