PM: Temporary agreement on customs reached

BRUSSELS -- Serbia's PM Ivica Dačić said in Brussels late on Thursday that a temporary solution regarding customs collection at administrative crossings had been reached.

Ivica Dačić, Catherine Ashton and Hashim Thaci (Maja Kocijančić, Twitter, @AshtonSpox_Maja)
Ivica Dačić, Catherine Ashton and Hashim Thaci (Maja Kocijančić, Twitter, @AshtonSpox_Maja)

Dačić added after a meeting with Kosovo's PM Hashim Thaci and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton that a topic about a special status for northern Kosovo had been started.

"We agreed that the money from customs would go to a special fund formed under the auspices of the EU, which would be used for the development of municipalities in northern Kosovo," he told reporters after a meeting with Ashton and Thaci that lasted over five hours.

“It is a temporary solution and some technical details have yet to be worked out, but the agreement is in accordance with the national interest and view of the Kosovo Serbs, who do not want to pay customs fees to Priština's institutions,” the prime minister stressed.

“The discussion was open and it was the first time the issue of parallel institutions and a special treatment for the Kosovo Serbs was addressed in a serious manner,” Dačić noted.

"It is a core issue that cannot be settled in one night, but the path to the solution lies open," he underscored, explaining that the solution was in forming new institutions in northern Kosovo that would be acceptable for both Priština and the Kosovo Serbs. He added that the subject would be discussed at future meetings as well.

Dačić explained that the topics would be discussed in future meetings and that the next one could be expected in the second half of February.

“It is important to make progress in dialogue by April, in accordance with the resolution and national interests,” he said and added that he was optimistic about Serbia’s chances to get a date for the beginning of the EU accession talks by the beginning of July.

The PM said that yesterday’s talks with U.S. State Department official Philip Reeker and Ashton had been very positive.

On the other hand, Priština media reported after the meeting that Thaci had said that “an agreement was reached to collect customs in accordance with the Kosovo law”.

The media also said that Thaci had stated that they had discussed abolition of the so-called parallel institutions in the north.

The meeting started a little after 20:00 in Ashton’s cabinet.

“We had a long and constructive talk and agreed to work on intensifying the dialogue and to meet again in February when we are hoping to make significant progress in accordance with conclusions of the European Council from December 2012,” Ashton said in a release.