First round of Belgrade-Priština talks ends

BRUSSELS -- The first round of Belgrade-Priština talks with the EU as the mediator ended in Brussels on Wednesday.


Head of the Serbian negotiating team Borko Stefanović said that the talks showed that there was both the capacity and readiness to solve issues.

He also pointed out that EU mediation in the dialogue was very positive and status-neutral.

As expected, the agenda of the Wednesday meeting which started around 10:00 CET covered issues such as air traffic, telecommunications and customs stamps.

EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy Catherine Ashton should issue a release following the conclusion of the Wednesday meeting.

The first meeting within the first round of talks was held late on Tuesday, after several hours' long uncertainties as to whether the talks would even start, contradictory messages coming from Priština and EU's silence regarding the arrival of the Priština negotiating team.

Belgrade-Priština meetings should continue to take place several times a month, depending on the progress achieved in them, EU officials said earlier. The future meetings should focus on three main topics, that is regional cooperation, freedom of movement and rule of law.

The first meeting on Tuesday afternoon went with teams learning about each other and building a degree of trust, Borko Stefanović said earlier today, commending his team for arriving in Brussels "particularly well prepared", and voicing his satisfaction with the first day of talks.

According to Stefanović, the negotiating team concentrated on concrete problems on the agenda, first of which were land and registrar books.

He added that the Kosovo Albanian team "attempted to impose terminological and narrative differences", and "their own interpretation of recent history", to which his team responded by "not allowing any deviations in the talks, removing differences that the other side often tried to present, and focusing on the most important issues that will bring welfare to people in Kosovo".

Meanwhile, the Priština delegation arrived in Brussels late, and without any official guidelines, since the Kosovo assembly will meet on Thursday to adopt its appropriate resolution.

They did however maintain that "Kosovo's independence must not be brought into question at any cost during the dialogue with Belgrade".

"We in a very good moon and we have a constructive approach to the dialogue. There are many practical issues on the agenda and if we are creative we can overcome differences and improve the lives of people but also European processes, both for the state of Kosovo and the state of Serbia," Edita Tahiri, who heads the Priština delegation, was quoted as saying.

In Priština, fears are being voiced that the process that just started will damage the interests of Kosovo's Albanians, and that the responsibility for that should be taken by their political leaders.

Publicist Veton Surroi said that "Serbia will in the end gain (EU) candidate status from this process, while it is unclear what Kosovo will get".

Movement for Unification leader Avni Klinaku was cited by media as saying that the talks that started without a minimum consensus of political parties and the assembly in Priština "will have consequences on security and the already fragile democracy in Kosovo".