Fourth Round of Kosovo-Serbia Talks in Brussels
PRISTINA, Kosovo — The fourth round of Kosovo-Serbian talks will start today. This was officially confirmed on Monday. The EU backed Kosovo-Serbian dialogue will take place in Brussels. The two days meeting is said to address technical issues regarding the relation of both countries. In continuation of former meetings both delegations are expected to discuss still open questions regarding civil registers, telecommunication, energy, customs seals, and freedom of movement. Kosovo government officials announced to open in addition the topics 'cultural inheritance' and 'missing people'.
Despite its foreseen focus, the Serbian government as well as officials from the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) repeatedly tried to include a possible division of the northern Kosovo territory into the dialogue agenda: The northern part of the Kosovar town of Mitrovica as well as the Kosovar municipalities of Zwecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic are populated with a Serb majority. Most of the respective Kosovo-Serb population seemingly rejects to be ruled by Prishtina-led institutions. The disputed region also comprises important water reserves and the main part of Kosovo's mining industry.
The head of the Kosovar delegation at the talks in Brussels, Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Edita Tahiri, stated that by this "Serbia aims at transforming the technical dialogue into a political dialogue", what Kosovo-Albanian politicians refuse - as long as Serbia doesn't recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state.
Meanwhile Borko Stefanovic, the head of the Serbian negotiation team, was quoted as saying “It is evident that their so-called independence is not functioning ..."
A last week's visit of Stefanovic to Prishtina caused strong clashes with parts of the Kosovar political opposition. Reportedly 22 people were injured. The anger of the protesters referred to the ongoing blockade of Kosovo through Serbia in terms of EU and UN membership - including the according social and economical limitations - as well as to Serbia's missing reflection regarding war crimes and repression committed in Kosovo until 1999.
Within the Kosovar public opinion the viewpoint is widely spread, that the negotiations would only support Serbia’s EU candidate status, whereas no improvements could be expected for Kosovo.