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Serbia, Kosovo PMs to meet after exchange of diplomatic envoys

June 18, 2013 at 9:14 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, June 18 (UPI) -- The prime ministers of Kosovo and Serbia are to meet Thursday in Brussels, two days after the two sides exchanged envoys in a landmark diplomatic move.

Serbia's Ivica Dacic, Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci and EU High Representative for Foreign Relations Catherine Ashton were set to talk in hopes of finalizing a deal to implement an agreement normalizing relations between Serbia and its former province.

The agreement is a requirement for Belgrade to begin its EU membership quest, perhaps by the end of June.

The meeting comes as both sides hailed Tuesday's exchange of envoys in Belgrade and Pristina, marking the first contact at a mutual diplomatic level between Kosovo and Serbia.

The two sides signed an EU-brokered agreement in April and last month approved a road map for implementing the deal under which Serbia has committed to dismantling security structures in Kosovo by mid-July.

Ashton, in a statement issued Monday, said she, Dacic and Thaci would "discuss progress in the implementation of the April agreement based on the plan that the two sides adopted last month."

The new round of Belgrade-Pristina talks started Tuesday, with working groups set up to fine-tune police and judiciary issues and discussing the organization of local elections in the Serb municipalities in Kosovo, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

The only remaining unresolved issue is telecommunications, including licenses for Serbian mobile network operators in northern Kosovo, the news agency said.

Ashton, meanwhile, praised Tuesday's exchange of diplomatic liaisons, hailing it as a significant step the long-standing efforts to steady the tense relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

"This is another concrete achievement in the context of implementation and an important step towards normalization of relations," the EU foreign affairs chief said.

The arrival of Kosovo envoy Pec Ljuljzim in Belgrade and Serbia's Dejan Pavicevic in Pristina Tuesday caused optimism that strides are being made in implementing the long-sought agreement.

The envoys reported to the EU offices in the respective cities, with Pavicevic's arrival in Pristina sparking a stir of excitement, Radio Television of Serbia reported.

Pavicevic told RTS the move was a clear statement by the Serbian government that normalization will work.

"It means that I will help the implementation of the accord and will speak to everyone with whom it is necessary in order to implement the agreement and ensure that everything agreed to in Brussels will result in the best possible conditions for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija," he said.

Pavicevic, while admitting Serbia and Kosovo "still have some disagreements," added: "We as people we need to communicate. We have not recognized Kosovo, I have said that hundreds of times and will say it again. I am not an ambassador, I am a liaison that only helps a communication process between people. I'm here to implement the agreement on normalization."

Thaci, meanwhile, also hailed he envoy exchange, Kosovo Television said.

"The obligations and responsibility of the officers are clear, and will include respect for the Constitution of Kosovo as well as maximum level of work for the implementation of the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia," Thaci said.

The move is "strengthens the recognition of Kosovo as a reality," he added, wishing success to the two liaisons.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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