Serbia, Kosovo Far Apart on Mitrovica Bridge Deal
EU-led talks on the controversial 'Peace Park erected in the divided northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica have ended with widely differing versions of what was agreed in Brussels.
(kosovocompromisestuff) Thursday, July 24, 2014
Kosovo and Serbian officials have voiced sharply differing interpetations of an EU-led agreement aimed at defusing tensions in the divided town of Mitrovica.On Tuesday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday urged Serbia and Kosovo to "continue to refrain from any action that is not agreed with the other side" regarding the bridge across the Ibar River in the divided town.Ashton said a joint working group from Serbia and Kosovo on the bridge across the Ibar had also agreed that the EU office in Kosovo should help assess the situation on the bridge. However, the two sides on Wednesday voiced widely differing interpretations on what had been agreed in Brussels.Kosovo's Deputy Prime Minister, Edita Tahiri, said that the two sides had agreed to gradually remove all obstacles and barricades on the bridge, and around it, allowing for the full freedom of movement for people and vehicles across the bridge, which connects the northern and southern parts of Mitrovica.However, Marko Djuric, head of the Serbian government's Office for Kosovo, told the Serbian media that the two sides had agreed that the "Peace Park" erected by Serbs on the northern side of the bridge would stay where it was.
He said it was agreed that EU experts would "visually assess the situation on the bridge" but that nothing would be changed in the meantime until a final solution was found.Djuric on Wednesday said he was "stunned" by Tahiri's claim that both sides had agreed "to remove the barricades" from the bridge. "I have the impression that we were in two different meetings," Djuric said.Mitrovica’s main bridge separates what are now two municipalities: South Mitrovica, largely inhabited by Albanians, and North Mitrovica, where mostly Serbs live.Serbs in the northern part of town erected a huge barricade on the bridge in 2011. In June local Serbs dismantled the huge road block on the bridge, but then replaced it with another construction, called the "Peace Park".