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First round of Belgrade-Pristina talks concluded

10. March 2011. | 07:17

Source: Tanjug

The first round of Belgrade-Pristina talks with EU as the mediator ended in Brussels on Wednesday, and heads of the two negotiating teams agreed that certain progress has been made in resolving the discussed issues, although both sides held onto their diametrically opposite stands on the status issue. EU: Dialogue held in constructive atmosphere.

The first round of Belgrade-Pristina talks with EU as the mediator ended in Brussels on Wednesday, and heads of the two negotiating teams agreed that certain progress has been made in resolving the discussed issues, although both sides held onto their diametrically opposite stands on the status issue. EU: Dialogue held in constructive atmosphere.

During the first direct talks since Pristina's unilateral declaration of independence three years ago, teams met two times - late on Tuesday when their meeting lasted two hours, and on Wednesday, when the exchange of views lasted over five hours.

The agenda of the first round of talks included several points, such as civil registry books, cadastre books, air traffic, telecommunications, customs stamps and presidency over the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).

Belgrade's six-member team was headed by Borko Stefanovic of the Serbian Foreign Ministry, while Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Edita Tahiri led the Pristina eight-member delegation.

Stefanovic said that Belgrade's team arrived in Brussels fully prepared and equipped with carefully thought-out solutions, and it offered tangible and well-argumented suggestions for every topic of the talks.

British diplomat Robert Cooper acted as the mediator in the talks, while the U.S. was represented by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Thomas Countryman.

Stefanovic pointed out that EU mediation was very positive and status-neutral.

EU: Dialogue held in constructive atmosphere

A first meeting of the dialogue between the Belgrade and Pristina was held with the facilitation of the EU on 8-9 March, in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by EU facilitator, Mr. Cooper. The Serbian delegation was led by Mr. Stefanovic and the Kosovo delegation by Ms. Tahiri, The EU said in a release Wednesday.

The meeting took place in a constructive and cordial atmosphere, and was informative and productive. Both sides reiterated their commitment to the dialogue and their willingness to continue the process.

The facilitator outlined the aims of the dialogue: to remove obstacles that have a negative impact on people’s daily lives, to improve cooperation, and to achieve progress on the path to Europe.

This first meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the availability of verifiable information from civil registry books as well as information on cadastre, issues with direct impact on the daily lives of people. Both parties agreed that this information should be made available to provide legal certainty to citizens.

The meeting also discussed regional trade and freedom of movement of goods, an issue of particular importance for the economic development of the small individual markets which compose the South Eastern Europe region.

The CEFTA agreement, which is the basis of the establishment of an open regional market, is key to the economic development in the region. The two parties reviewed positively their participation to CEFTA and confirmed that they will participate during the 2011 Chairmanship.

The parties also touched on the issues of telecommunications and aviation – two areas where cooperation opens up the prospect of better services for customers, more economic efficiency and more environmentally friendly practices.

The parties look forward to discussing these and other topics at upcoming meetings.

There was agreement that a second meeting should take place shortly, the release says.

Stefanovic and Tahiri hail progress made in talks

The heads of the negotiating teams of Belgrade and Pristina, Borko Stefanovic and Edita Tahiri respectively, agreed on Wednesday, after the first two-day round of direct talks between the two sides held with the facilitation of the European Union, that progress had been made towards resolving the issues that had been discussed and that certain concrete solutions could be reached in a matter of days.

The heads of the two teams did not, however, agree on the nature of the talks, with Tahiri insisting that the nature of the talks was technical, and Stefanovic saying that the issues which had been touched on during the past two days were really important and had great political weight and could not be called technical, since, if nothing else, they were directly affecting people's lives.

What we see is that there is the capacity and willingness to resolve specific problems and issues in the days ahead and to bring the Western Balkans closer to the European Union, Stefanovic told reporters after the meeting.
He added that the Wednesday meeting had been more successful than the one on the day before and that the two sides were continuing the path to finding common solutions.

Certain specific solutions have been found, but we will see what their implementation will be like in the days ahead, and of course, duly inform the public of the developments, he pointed out, refusing to reveal any other details.

Stefanovic said that that the meeting had taken place in a constructive and cordial atmosphere, adding that it had been informative and productive.

We have now seen precisely what the common points of view are. We have made specific proposals regarding each topic, he said, adding that the proposals had been well-argued.

Stefanovic said that a progress had been made regarding the issues of civil registry books, cadastre, telecommunications and aviation, but that progress had been somewhat less palpable concerning problems which delve more deeply into the question of sovereignty, such as customs seals.

We have definitely agreed on the need to establish a verifiable exchange of information in order to provide legal and financial certainty to citizens when it comes to cadastre, he said.

The two parties agreed on the need to regulate the area of aviation, and touched on issues concerning the presidency of CEFTA.

Tahiri stressed the need to resolve the problem of customs seals, as that would facilitate regional trade and movement of goods.

The current situation is asymmetric, since Kosovo allows Serbia to export goods to Kosovo, while Serbia prevents even the transit of goods from Kosovo through its territory, she underlined.

We have made good progress regarding the presentation of proposals and attempts to find common ground, but all of these issues should be further discussed in later phases. The progress made was good, but I cannot say how good, Tahiri said, adding that both sides worked hard over the past two days.

Stefanovic assessed the EU facilitation as very important, saying that it is being done in a good way, the status-neutral way.

I believe we can be optimistic, he added.

Stefanovic said that the meeting could not have been an opportunity to address the status issue, as the two sides have completely opposite views on the matter.

This dialogue does not require from anyone to give up their positions on the status issue, but seeks to solve some concrete problems, he said.

Tahiri, for her part, said that the status issue was a resolved one, arguing that Kosovo is recognized by 75 influential countries and expressed the hope that Serbia might some day admit the reality of Kosovo's independence.


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05. September - 11. September 2011.