Serbia And Kosovo Set For Pre-Christmas Talks


By Fatmir Aliu

Experts teams from the two countries will meet in Brussels to talk about implementation of the border management deal that they reached on December 2.

The negotiating teams are set to meet once more before year’s end to flesh out the Integrated Border Management-IBM deal reached in Brussels, a Kosovo government official told Balkan Insight on Monday.

Lirim Grejcevci, political adviser to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and member of the Kosovar delegation in dialogue with Serbia, said the experts working group will meet soon in Brussels.

The forthcoming meeting will focus on the implementation of the last agreement reached between the parties on management of the Kosovo-Serbia border.

“We expect that the next talks will be called before Christmas… to implement the IBM whose drafting we have started and will sign a later stage,” Grejcevci told Balkan Insight.

The two sides agreed on integrated management of border crossings, known as IBM, 10 days ago.

The European Commission developed the concept for the Western Balkans according to which all relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and trade facilitation work in coordination and under the same roof.

The EU-brokered IBM deal was interpreted by Pristina as Serbia’s “de facto” recognition of Kosovo, though Belgrade dismissed this claim, insisting that Serbia still didn’t recognize the frontier with Kosovo as an international border.

According to Grejcevci, an EU experts team visited Pristina last week and held preliminary discussions on how the IBM model is being applied elsewhere in the neighbourhood, such as on the Albania-Montenegro border and the Finland-Russia border.

He said the parties hadn’t agreed anything yet but the principles used in those cases would serve as a basis for drafting the Kosovo-Serbia IBM agreement.

EU-mediated talks started in March aimed at normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, both of which share a desire to join the EU one day.

The two sides have reached deals on trade, freedom of movement, cadastral registry and mutual recognition of university diplomas. However, Kosovo has accused Serbia of putting most of the agreements on hold.

On December 26, Serbia is expected to allow Kosovo citizens to cross into Serbia with their ID cards and drive vehicles into Serbia with Kosovo license places and using Kosovo driving licenses. This has not been possible since 1999 when the UN took over administering Kosovo.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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