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Stefanovic: Agreement protects Serbia's interest

05. December 2011. | 09:20

Source: Tanjug

Head of the Belgrade team for the talks with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic said on Sunday that the agreement on joint control of administrative crossings reached in Brussels protected Serbia's interest, Constitution and UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Head of the Belgrade team for the talks with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic said on Sunday that the agreement on joint control of administrative crossings reached in Brussels protected Serbia's interest, Constitution and UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

"We found a solution that is not ideal, but it protects the national interest, Constitution and Resolution 1244," he told a news conference.

The solution fulfils some provisions of Resolution 1244 since it brings back Serbian government officials to Kosovo while giving Kosovo customs officials a "disfunctional role of observers," he explained.

He called on the people in northern Kosovo to clear the roadblocks because they expose them to further attacks.

Stefanovic also called on KFOR to exercise restraint, adding that incidents suited only Pristina.

"We reached an agreement on joint control of administrative crossings. The talks were long and difficult. The concept of joint control of administrative crossings was not imposed on us. We brought it up. Everything started the day Pristina refused to discuss it publicly," Stefanovic explained.

The agreement says that all crossings will be unique, controlled jointly and with the presence of EULEX, the Serbian Ministry of Finance, Serbian police, Kosovo police and Kosovo cutoms, whose officers will be observers at the crossings in northern Kosovo, because their role will be disfunctional, Stefanovic explained.

There will be only one crossing in Jarinje instead of the present two, Rudnica and Jarinje, he added. EULEX will have executive mandate at the Jarinje and Brnjak checkpoints, meaning that its officials will conduct all customs procedures, he stressed, adding that the two crossings were treated separately from the rest.

The agreement recognizes the crossings' special status. Kosovo customs officers will observe the work, while EULEX will conduct it for Kosovo and officials of the Serbian Ministry of Finance for Serbia. According to Stefanovic, the Serbian police will also be present for the first time since 1999, while EULEX will not be tasked with assisting the Kosovo authorities, but with conducting all customs operations.

The role of the Serbian police and officials of the Ministry of Finance will be the same as it has been so far at the Rudnica crossing. On the other hand, EULEX will be doing the work for Pristina.

"That is the thing the Kosovo authorities do not dare tell their people," he commented, adding that the checkpoints will not bear the symbols of the so called Republic of Kosovo. "We also succeeded in getting a very important sentence, which says the agreement does not cover any fiscal or revenue arrangements," he pointed out.

The distribution of revenue will be addressed during some future round of the talks and it prevents Pristina from taking advantage of the agreement in the way they attempted to do with the agreement on customs stamps, which did not state it was not related to Jarinje and Brnjak.

According to Stefanovic, a technical agreement will be signed with the EU regarding technical implementation, if necessary. "There will be no signing of any kind of documents with Pristina, because that is against the Serbian Constitution, since the signing would mean a recognition of equality between the two sides," he noted.

The implementation of the agreement on the crossings will be gradual, he added.
"The necessary procedures have to be conducted, and that will be completed by December 26," he underscored, adding that the freedom of movement agreement will not apply to Jarinje and Brnjak until joint control is established.

The agreement will be sent to the parliament once the government accepts it and creates the necessary by-laws, he explained. The work will then be continued by the implementation groups within the talks with Pristina, in which the Kosovo Serbs have their representatives, Stefanovic remarked.

It is extremely important to Belgrade that EU mediator for the talks Robert Cooper confirmed the situation in the field will be taken into account during implementation when he said that different vehicle registration plates and documents will have to be considered during the process, Stefanovic said.

"This issue was very important to us, and that is why there was confusion that night as to whether the agreement had been reached or not. There was no agreement until we saw a clear intention from the EU not to obstruct the use of Serbian registration plates and documents until the situation is resolved," he emphasized.

There was no pressure on the Belgrade team, he revealed, adding that there was instead pressure on the Pristina delegation and that Serbia's international position was better than two days earlier.


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