Working groups report agreement on some issues

BRUSSELS -- Agreement has been reached in Brussels on some issues related to an agreement on the joint management of crossings with Kosovo.

Dejan Pavićević (Beta, file)
Dejan Pavićević (Beta, file)

This deal, accepted by the previous Serbian government during the EU-sponsored Kosovo talks, is known as "Integrated Border Management (IBM)", and is expected to be implemented starting December 10.

Head of Belgrade's working group for the implementation of the agreement Dejan Pavićević said he did not expect any major changes to take place on the crossing at Jarinje and Merdare, which will first begin to work under the new regime.

He said at agreements were reached today concerning the functioning of customs, and explained the clearance of goods will not be taking place at the crossings themselves.

"It was agreed that goods will not be cleared at the actual crossing, but at customs terminals in the depth of the territory," Pavićević was quoted as saying on Monday.

He explained that this means that goods coming from Kosovo will be cleared in Niš and Vranje, while those coming from the opposite direction in the southern, ethnic Albanian part of the town of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Pavićević added that the EU mission, EULEX customs officers, and those of Serbia and Kosovo will "only control papers" at the administrative crossings.

"EULEX customs officials will, along with customs officials of Serbia and Kosovo, perform customs procedures, which we can refer to as an executive role of EULEX," said he.

The future role on EULEX was also agreed on in Brussels on Monday, and their whose presence, accordingto Pavićević, will be "balanced with the presence of police officers of Serbia and members of the Kosovo police." "The crossings of Jarinje and Merdare will have no state insignia of any kind," this government official said.

The teams for the implementation of the IBM are yet to reached an agreement on the implementation of other disputed parts of the deal, those governing the issues of license plates, travel insurance and personal documents. However, he hopes that these "ambiguities" will not be an obstacle to the implementation of the agreement itself.

Pavićević also addressed the issue of distribution of customs revenue, to say that it was "resolved through the clearance of goods at terminals". The request of the Serbian side was that the revenue should be paid directly to Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo, "but for now it is possible", he added. "We are still talking, but some things have to be addressed at the political level," he said.

Pavićević explained that the technical protocol, which was initialed by the previous government, predefined some solutions, and that it was "now very difficult to change them".

"The previous agreement on the documents already provided that all citizens of Kosovo and Metohija must have documents issued in Kosovo and Metohija. We will try for our citizens in Kosovo at least initially be able to use plates issued in Serbia," said Pavićević.

"I am convinced that the trial implementation of the agreement on the IBM will start as agreed on December 10," he stated, and added that Prime Minister Ivica Dačić "will be informed in detail" about the results of the meeting of the working groups, before his own meeting on Tuesday with Hashim Thaci and Catherine Ashton.

The technical dialogue will also continue on Tuesday morning, and any issues that the groups fails to reach agreement on will be transferred to the political level - i.e., Ivica Dačić and Hashim Thaci "will be informed about any difficulties".