Serbia now "done with making concessions"

BELGRADE -- Serbia has made "big concessions" during the negotiations with Priština, and anything more that that would represent a recognition of Kosovo.

A file photo of Krstimir Pantić at a barricade in northern Kosovo (Tanjug)
A file photo of Krstimir Pantić at a barricade in northern Kosovo (Tanjug)

This is according to former Kosovska Mitrovica mayor, now deputy director of the Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Krstimir Pantić, who spoke for B92 on Monday.

Serbia demonstrated its readiness to make great concessions, he stated, and added that this was evident in the fact that the original Kosovo platform, drafted by President Tomislav Nikolić, had been "softened".

But now, according to Pantić, "Serbia is done with making concessions".

"The Serbian government will no longer make a single concession, Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and (Kosovo Office Director) Aleksandar Vulin also spoke about this. We have reached the red line, anything more than this would mean an indirect recognition of Kosovo as an independent state," he added.

"Tomislav Nikolić expects the international community to appreciate that position and press Priština to be ready to compromise, but I'm afraid the international community will not wish and does not wish to exert pressure on the Kosovo Albanians. The Albanians must renounce some of their wishes," he said, and and accused Priština of being the side that had "put up a wall" in the negotiations:

"The (ethnic) Albanians do not wish to reach a compromise, they only talk about Kosovo being independent, and wishing to have good relations with, as they put it, neighboring Serbia, and that all solutions reached in Brussels must be in line with the Kosovo Constitution," Pantić noted.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in early 2008 unilaterally declared independence, but Serbia rejected the proclamation as illegal under its Constitution. The two sides have been negotiating since March 2011 in the EU sponsored talks known as the Kosovo dialogue.

Pantić explained that he was a critic of the Brussels agreements reached previously but that the new government "did not reach a single deal" and was instead "only implementing what the previous one agreed to", and accused the Albanian side of "not respecting what has been agreed".

"The new government did not make a single deal, except the elaboration of the agreed control of the administrative line. It was agreed to collect taxes and excise fees on goods entering from Serbia to Kosovo and Metohija. We agreed to that in order to do away with the accusations that there was smuggling going on in the north of the province."

The deputy chief of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija added that Serbia had agreed to the Kosovo institutions collecting the taxes, but for the money to go to a fund for the development of the four Serb municipalities in the north, via a Komercijalna bank account, "outside the territory of Kosovo".

"The Albanians still insist that this should go through the Kosovo budget and this fund has not yet been set up, a rulebook has not been adopted, and for that reason the agreement that was in place until now is in force - customs fees are not being collected, while south of the Ibar they (goods) go to a terminal in Kosovska Mitrovica," Patić said.