Dacic, Taci to discuss Kosovo north institutions

The fifth round of the political dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina facilitated by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton will begin in Brussels Tuesday, with institutions in northern Kosovo and the status of liaison officers as the main topics.

(kosovocompromisestuff) Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, Ivica Dacic and Hasim Taci, respectively, will first meet with Ashton separately early in the afternoon, and then have a working lunch together, after which the talks will formally begin, Tanjug has learned at the European Commission. It is highly likely the talks would roll over into Wednesday, Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for Ashton, has told reporters, recalling that so far, each new round lasted longer than the one preceding it. We find this round talks to be very important, as really tough issues will be addressed, she added. Belgrade and Pristina had previously announced that this round will focus primarily on the issue of institutions in northern Kosovo which Pristina refers to as parallel institutions - the courts, tax administration and security structures. “We are going to Brussels to talk about the functioning of institutions, which means that on one hand, the talks will address the issue of parallel institutions and on the other, the specific position of Serbs, as Catherine Ashton defines it, or in other words, what would constitute autonomy there, that is, a community of Serb municipalities,” Dacic said Sunday. Kosovo's Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci said that Taci will demand the establishment of a municipal court in Northern Mitrovica, which the local Serbs oppose. The mixed-team court supervised by EULEX has been closed for five years, ever since demonstrators stopped judges and prosecutors from entering the court house. Another topic of the dialogue is Serbian security structures in Kosovo, meaning the police and secret services which Pristina claims are active in the north and must withdraw. The two sides are also expected to finalize an agreement on the exchange of liaison officers which was reached in principle during the previous round in January. Liaison officers should begin their missions at diplomatic offices of the EU in Belgrade and Pristina on March 1, but opinions differ as to what kind of status they should enjoy. Pristina demands that its officer Ljuzim Peci, who currently serves as Kosovo's Ambassador to Sweden, should enjoy diplomatic status in Belgrade as well, while Belgrade insists that a liaison officer can only be an official facilitating communication between two sides, not a diplomat. Belgrade appointed as its liaison officer Dejan Pavicevic, head of the Belgrade technical dialogue team. If this round of talks brings about visible progress, it will significantly increase Serbia's chances of receiving a positive opinion from the European Commission and the Council of Ministers regarding a decision to consider a date for the beginning of EU membership negotiations for the country in June.