Another round of Kosovo talks ends without deal

BRUSSELS -- The dialogue between Belgrade and Priština continued in Brussels on Monday for two hours at the office of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

A new round of the Kosovo dialogue has been scheduled for March 20. According to reports, today's talks did not produce any agreement.

According to announcements earlier in the day, the main topic of the sixth round of the EU-sponsored negotiations were the forming of a community of Serb municipalities in Kosovo.

For this community, Belgrade seeks executive powers, which Priština resolutely refuses.

Serbian leadership said on the eve of today's talks that the country remained committed to reaching a compromise, and that the EU was expected "to remain impartial and influence Priština so that it also makes concessions".

Prime Minister Ivica Dačić last night upon his arrival in Brussels met with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker, who, according to reports quoting the Serbian delegation, "gave his full support to Serbia's EU integration and the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština".

During the meeting Dačić pointed out that it was in the interest of Serbia for all outstanding issues to be resolved, "but that a compromise takes the willingness and desire of both sides".

The prime minister also said that Serbia had shown its dedication and commitment to dialogue, which should lead to the resolution of all outstanding issues.

Negative mood

"The mood is bad before today's resumption of the dialogue," wrote Vienna daily Standard ahead of today's round of talks.

The newspaper quoted Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić who said that Serbia had done what it could, and that the other side rejected all of its proposals, while their positions remain "far apart like never before".

This daily says the abolition of "parallel Serbian institutions in northern Kosovo" is at the core of this round of the dialogue. These institutions do not recognize the government in Priština and are financed by Serbia, the article stresses, adding that this is by far "the biggest bite for Belgrade so far".

On the one side is the dismantling of "parallel Serbian institutions" as a precondition for starting of accession talks with the EU, and on the other, the Serbian government is exposed to domestic pressure "not to commit treason" and leave the Serbs in Kosovo in the lurch, assesses the Austrian newspaper.

It further notes that Dačić suggested a compromise solution which would see the dissolution of old Serbian structures in northern Kosovo and establishment of an alliances of nine Serb municipalities.

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has not opposed the establishment of the alliance, but excludes the possibility of executive and legislative powers for it, pointed out the daily.

Serbian politicians expressed their hope that the West would "put pressure on Priština" and also their concern that Serbia could grow more distant from the EU this year unless the association talks began.

The newspaper added that in Belgrade's proposal, western diplomats see the danger of creating a separate entity modeled after the RS in Bosnia.