By Fatmir Aliu
Border management in the troubled north of Kosovo is under discussion at the seventh round of European Union-led talks between Pristina and Belgrade.
Parties from Kosovo and Serbia will meet in Brussels today to discuss the contested northern border between the countries.
The seventh round of talks under EU patronage will also focus on energy, telecommunications, and participation in regional forums.
Kosovo’s dialogue team said that its 13-member delegation had flown to Brussels to discuss, among other things, the non-implementation of agreements reached in previous rounds.
“[As part of the agenda] we expect the integrated border management issue to be raised during the meetings,” said the government of Kosovo in a press release.
Pristina’s team includes Kosovo’s Customs Director Naim Huruglica, Kosovo’s Border Police Director Shaban Guda and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Gashi.
The technical talks between Pristina and Belgrade were interrupted in September, after Serbia left the negotiating table asking for the discussion to focus on northern Kosovo, the scene of violent clashes since the summer.
Tensions over who controls the border between Serbia and the Serb-populated north of Kosovo spilled over into violence after Pristina deployed ethnic-Albanian police officers and customs officials to the northern crossing points in July.
One police officer was shot dead and Serbs have since been manning roadblocks to prevent Kosovo government from taking control.Pristina’s team leader, Deputy Prime Minister Edita Tahiri, believes her side has won favours from the EU by taking a positive approach to the dialogue, led by envoy Robert Cooper.
“The Government of the Republic of Kosovo will be engaged to achieve concrete results and defend the stance that the success of the technical dialogue is about implementing the agreements reached,” she said in a statement.
“Kosovo will repeat its plea to be rewarded for the constructive approach it showed in the talks, and be granted contractual relationship with the European Union.”
But, Serbia’s chief negotiator, Borislav Stefanovic, hinted that Belgrade is ready to “achieve an agreement, at least on one issue”.
Since March 2011, the EU has been facilitating a technical dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which is, according to a UN General Assembly resolution, aimed at normalizing the relationship between parties.
Cooper has brokered five deals, mainly on trade, freedom of movement, and cadastral registry.