Friday round of Kosovo dialogue crucial for EU talks date

Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and his first deputy Aleksandar Vučić will take part in a new round of the dialogue with Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci.

Source: Tanjug
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The meeting, the 20th round of the dialogue, will be held in Brussels on Friday with the mediation of High EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

Apart from being the last round of the talks this year, this meeting is also important as its outcome will greatly influence the decision of the EU Council on the date to launch Serbia's EU accession talks.

The Friday meeting will focus on the judiciary as the last unresolved issue in the implementation of the agreement on normalization of Belgrade-Priština relations signed in Brussels almost eight months ago.

The controversial point refers to the organization of the Basic Court in Kosovska Mitrovica in which, as envisaged in the agreement, the personnel composition should reflect the ethnic structure of the population.

Priština wants the seat of the court to be situated in southern Kosovska Mitrovica with branches in northern municipalities which are home to mainly Serb population, while Belgrade believes that the seat of the court should be in the north, separated from the court in the southern part of the divided city.

If Dačić and Thaci manage to reach an agreement on the issue, Ashton will inform ministers of EU member countries on December 16-17, at the sessions of the Councils for Foreign and General Affairs, that the implementation of the Brussels agreement is to the greatest extent developing as planned.

The report will enable the EU Council to confirm its conclusions from June that Serbia's EU accession talks should be opened in January 2014 at the latest.

In case the agreement on judiciary is not reached on Friday, Ashton will inform the Council that the agreement implementation has proved only partially successful, which could serve as an excuse for the inter-governmental conference, as the formal initiation of talks, to be held at a later date and for that date to be even conditional upon the agreement on judiciary.

As Tanjug reported earlier, most EU members believe that the efforts in the agreement implementation Serbia invested so far are sufficient for the inter-governmental conference to be held as soon as December 20, immediately after the Council of Europe annual summit.

The European Parliament maintains the same stand as its Foreign Affairs Committee unilaterally adopted the draft resolution on Serbia last week which calls for initiation of the talks in December.

Nevertheless, Germany and Britain want the accession talks to begin in January 2014 at the earliest. Diplomatic sources from Brussels say that the two countries insist that the main reason for such a stand is the failure of Belgrade and Priština to reach an agreement on judiciary.

Germany quoted the stand of the German parliament according to which Serbia's accession talks should not be launched before January in either case which, as Tanjug learned, is not binding as this is a stand and not a decision of the parliament.

This is why the outcome of the 20th round of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue remains the main condition for Serbia to launch EU accession talks this year. This would, as insisted in Brussels, strengthen the credibility of both Serbia and the EU in its enlargement process, the news agency reported.

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