By Linda Karadaku
In the latest development from the EU-mediated talks, Serbia Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci agreed to appoint liaison officers to represent their respective countries in Belgrade and Pristina.
Some observers viewed the agreement as a positive sign in the ongoing effort to normalise relations. But others indicate there remains room for progress.
Dacic said he agreed with Thaci that “liaison officers would be exchanged between Belgrade and Pristina … to be stationed in EU missions and take part in the implementation of agreements.”
But Europolitics quoted the prime minister as saying the officers “would not be diplomats or … treated as ambassadors.”
Sonja Biserko, head of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, said the agreement is significant in establishing regular relations between the two countries.
“It would be the first step in recognising Kosovo as a separate state,” Biserko told SETimes. “It would be the beginning of states dealing with pending issues, especially legal ones that are of great concern of both Serbs and Albanians.”
Ardian Arifaj, a senior researcher at the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, told SETimes that the agreement transforms the Serbia-Kosovo relationship into one with permanent official channels of communication.
Arifaj noted this was a difficult decision for Serbia, which has to accept a Kosovo representative in its capital.
“The decision for Kosovo is easier because … it can be represented as an achievement of Pristina,” Arifaj said, adding that it might help to break the ice between the two countries.
Kosovo’s opposition Vetevendosje movement said the opening of the liaison offices is unacceptable. Alma Lama, a Vetevendosje MP, said the move might be “very damaging, unnecessary and not fruitful.”
“Sovereign states open embassies in each other’s [countries], not liaison offices,” Lama told SETimes. “Acceptance of such an office by Kosovo is in full accordance to Serbia’s position … that it does not recognise us as a state.”
Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga said the prime ministers of the two countries are leading the process “with the aim that an agreement on the full normalisation of the relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Republic of Serbia is reached by next year.”