Belgrade–Pristina negotiations

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Belgrade–Pristina negotiations are a series of talks between the Republic of Serbia and the partially recognised Republic of Kosovo. Serbia claims Kosovo as its southern province under United Nations administration, and rejects its independence. The negotiations began in March 2011. They are the first negotiations between the two entities since Kosovo declared independence, and although seen as status neutral, are met with popular dissent in both Kosovo and Serbia itself.

Background[edit]

The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, and that move has only been partially recognised internationally. Serbia took the issue to the International Court of Justice for their advisory opinion.[1] The court's verdict was that it wasn't illegal for Kosovo to declare independence.[2] After the verdict Serbia and the European Union submitted a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly which called for technical negotiations between the governments in Belgrade and Pristina. The Serbia-EU resolution passed in the UN General Assembly. The talks were delayed due to Kosovo's government collapsing, forcing Kosovo into early elections.[3]

The Negotiations[edit]

The talks take place in Brussels, Belgium and are mediated by the European Union represented by Robert Cooper. Borko Stefanović leads the Belgrade negotiating team and Edita Tahiri leads the Pristina negotiating team.[4] The talks began on 8 March 2011 and feature three main issues:[5]

  • Regional cooperation
  • Freedom of movement
  • Rule of law.

First Round[edit]

The First Round of dialogue took place on 8–9 March 2011 and covered economic co-operation between the two parties.[6] Other issues on the agenda during the first round of dialogue were telecommunications, air traffic, customs seals, land books and civil records.[7]

Second Round[edit]

The second round of negotiations was delayed until 28 March 2011. Issues discussed in the second round of talks were electricity and possibly Freedom of Movement, as well as concluding first round topics such as Kosovo's customs seal, air traffic and Kosovo's participation in regional initiatives.[7][8] On 28 March, the representative discussed land books and registries of births, deaths and marriages, as well as power supply issues. Stefanović stated that "Certain progress has been achieved on land books, birth registries and electric energy supply; we laid out our proposal and hope that there will finally be a positive wrap-up of these topics at the next meeting".[9]

Third Round[edit]

The third round of talks took place on 15 April 2011 and the issues discussed were freedom of movement, registration plates for vehicles and the recognition of diplomas.[10][11]

Fourth Round[edit]

The fourth round was held on 17 and 18 May 2011. Agreement was almost reached on the cadaster and freedom of movement; the European Union proposed to also tackle the issues of missing people and cultural heritage.[12]

Fifth Round[edit]

The fifth round was set to take place on 14 and 15 June 2011, but was delayed a few days before.[13] It was assumed that it would instead be held in late June,[14] but was then set for 2 July 2011.[15] It was expected that solutions would be reached on the cadaster, freedom of movement and vital records. Electricity and telecommunications issues might also be resolved in that round.[16] Agreement was reached on freedom of movement across the border (both persons and cars), exchange of information regarding Serbia's civil registries to help Kosovo establish its own civil registry, and recognising each other's education diplomas.[17]

Sixth Round[edit]

The sixth round was to take place on 20 and 21 July 2011.[18] They were postponed to September just a day before, allegedly because Kosovo's representative wanted to have Kosovo's state symbols shown, which the Serbian representative rejected.[19] They were later set for 2 September 2011.[20] Agreement was reached on the customs issue (the stamp will only feature the words "Customs of Kosovo") and on the cadaster; while telecommunications and university degrees were also discussed, no agreement was reached on these issues.[21]

Seventh Round[edit]

The seventh round was scheduled for 28 September 2011 (it was initially scheduled for 27 September, but was postponed shortly before due to a flare-up in violence).[22][23] The Serb delegation refused to continue with the talks whilst Kosovo police and customs officials control border posts, which was not previously agreed and resulted in violence.[24] The talks were then set for 14 October 2011, though only technical issues were planned to be discussed.[25]

Outcome[edit]

  • Kosovo representatives agreed on freedom of movement across the administrative border, both for persons and cars.[17]
  • Belgrade has agreed to give Pristina copies of land registries and documents on births, deaths and marriages in Kosovo.[9]
  • Mutual Recognition of each other's University Diplomas.[17]
  • Belgrade has agreed to accept Kosovo Custom stamps which state "Customs of Kosovo".[21]
  • End of the trade embargo thus allowing trade between the two entities.[26]
  • Integrated operations at North Kosovo crossing points.[27]
  • Representation of Pristina authorities at regional organisations.[28]
  • Liaison officers would be exchanged between Belgrade and Pristina - to be stationed in EU missions.[29]

Further aims[edit]

It is expected additional agreements to be concluded about:

  • energy cooperation issues - electricity transmission, implementation of the Energy Community treaty[30]
  • telecommunications issues - landline and mobile phone services in North Kosovo, roaming[30]

International Reaction[edit]

Political entity Reaction
 Albania Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha stated that he supports the "technical talks".[31]
 Austria Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said he thinks the start of the talks between Belgrade and Pristina was good and yielded results, despite a dose of restraint. He also welcomed the progress made in the talks, but stressed that normal relations between Serbia and Kosovo were still far away.[32]
 Croatia On 28 March 2011 Gordan Jandroković the Croatian Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration stated that "We support technical dialogue between the two states of Kosovo and Serbia, as two independent states. On this question, Croatia can serve as a model for regional cooperation, resolving technical issues between regional states".[33]
 European Union EU Mediator Robert Cooper stated that "The atmosphere was good. This was the first official meeting held in the last few years. The atmosphere was really good, friendly and sincere".[34]
 France French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Kosovo has progressed since declaring independence in 2008, however he said that Kosovo needs to reform more and that is the objective of the dialogue with Belgrade.[35]
 Iran Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast stated that "The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the beginning of direct talks between Serbia and Kosovo in line with the UN General Assembly's resolution".[36]
 Kosovo On 10 March 2011, the Kosovo Assembly passed a resolution (63 for and 57 against) in support of negotiations between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The resolution states that the negotiations should deal with "technical issues of common interest" and "can in no case involve the sovereignty ... and territorial integrity of Kosovo".[37]
 Serbia On 9 March 2011, Serbian Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović stated that the negotiations were "an opportunity to get to a historic compromise and historic reconciliation because the problems in the relations between Serbs and Albanians have already been there over the past few centuries" however "we will never recognise Kosovo as an independent creation, and it is good that these discussions have not been given a fixed term and that participants in the talks will not go to Brussels with ready-made solutions".[38] Borko Stefanović stated that Belgrade wants to discuss the status of Kosovo during the negations however Pristina is strongly opposed to negotiating on status and says that status is not up for negotiating. Stefanović rejected the claim that these were only 'technical negotiations', he states that "some issues only appear technical, but have a strong political dimension. Pristina's continued insistence on independence is nothing but self-encouragement".[39]
 United States U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick said "we hope that this will be a positive and constructive process which will lead to betterment of everyday life of people in both countries. We strongly support the talks, and both teams have opened the dialogue well."[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Serbia challenges Kosovo secession at Hague court" bbc.co.uk 1 December 2011 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  2. ^ "Kosovo independence move not illegal, says UN court" bbc.co.uk 22 July 2010 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  3. ^ "Kosovo's government brought down by no-confidence vote" bbc.co.uk 2 November 2010 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  4. ^ "Belgrade, Pristina launch new talks" setimes.com 9 March 2011 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  5. ^ ""Three main topics" in Belgrade-Priština talks" b92.net 7 March 2011 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  6. ^ "First round of Belgrade-Priština talks ends" b92.net 9 March 2011 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  7. ^ a b "Belgrade-Priština dialogue continues in Brussels". B92. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Belgrade-Priština talks postponed". B92. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Teams report "progress" in Kosovo meetings". B92. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "New round of talks between Belgrade,Pristina on April 15". emg.rs. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "Belgrade, Priština discuss freedom of movement". b92.net. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  12. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=05&dd=19&nav_id=74411
  13. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=06&dd=10&nav_id=74844
  14. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=06&dd=11&nav_id=74859
  15. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=06&dd=22&nav_id=75046
  16. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=06&dd=29&nav_id=75167
  17. ^ a b c "Serbia and Kosovo sign deals". Al Jazeera. 2 July 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  18. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=07&dd=16&nav_id=75469
  19. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=07&dd=19&nav_id=75528
  20. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=08&dd=16&nav_id=75944
  21. ^ a b "Kosovo talks produce deal on customs stamps". B92. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Belgrade-Priština dialogue will continue". B92. 22 September 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  23. ^ http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gla8RX8HGYpm25TPw2GpwLLlbrtA?docId=CNG.4ec18362289b76ca984f309c220adac5.ab1
  24. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=09&dd=28&nav_id=76590
  25. ^ http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=09&nav_id=76771
  26. ^ "Serbia and Kosovo reach deal to end mutual trade embargo". Deutsche Welle. 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  27. ^ a b EU facilitated dialogue: Agreement on Regional Cooperation and IBM technical protocol
  28. ^ "Kosovo*" will be the only denomination to be used and the footnote to be applied to the asterisk will read: "This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence". Until now agreements have been signed by UNMIK.[27]
  29. ^ Kosovo and Serbia agree on liaison officers: "would not be diplomats or … treated as ambassadors."
  30. ^ a b Commission Opinion on Serbia's application for membership of the European Union, p12
  31. ^ "Berisha-Tahiri: Dialogue can not be done for boundaries change". albeu.com. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  32. ^ "Austrian foreign minister lobbies for recognition of Kosovo's independence by entire EU". emg.rs. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  33. ^ "Croatia offers comprehensive support for Kosovo’s integration". Kosovo MFA. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  34. ^ "EU: Dialogue was constructive" b92.net 10 March 2011 Link retrieved 13 March 2011
  35. ^ "French president Nicolas Sarkozy congratulated President Atifete Jahjaga". president-ksgov.net. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  36. ^ "Iran hails direct Kosovo-Serbia talks" presstv.ir 13 March 2011 Link retrieved 13 March 2011
  37. ^ "Kosovo's parliament passes resolution backing talks with Serbia" monstersandcritics.com 10 March 2011 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  38. ^ "Dialogue chance for Kosovo compromise" b92.net 9 March 2011 Link retrieved 10 March 2011
  39. ^ "Belgrade: Status is up for discussion" b92.net 12 March 2011 Link retrieved 13 March 2011
  40. ^ "U.S. "disappointed" with Serbia's decision". b92.net. Retrieved 17 March 2011.