‘Significant progress’ in Serbia, Kosovo talks



AGENCIES

Published — Thursday 21 February 2013

Last update 20 February 2013 10:52 pm

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BRUSSELS/MITROVICA, Kosovo: The EU said yesterday that significant progress has been made in talks with Serbia and Kosovo aimed at defusing tensions in one of Europe’s last trouble-spots, having demanded concrete results from the two parties.
EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said a fifth series of talks she chaired with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci had gone well, with all sides pleased at the outcome and another meeting set for March 4.
The two premiers “met on Tuesday and Wednesday in the framework of the EU-facilitated dialogue for the normalization of relations and had in-depth discussions,” Ashton said in a statement.
“The prime ministers are pleased with the significant progress they have made, as am I,” she added, without elaborating further.
Dacic and Thaci met separately and then jointly with Ashton in talks the European Union has brokered since 2011 in a bid to deflate simmering tensions after Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.
Belgrade has staunchly refused to recognise Pristina’s independence but most of the EU’s 27 member states have done so, along with the United States.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy said earlier that “concrete results in the dialogue are essential for progress on the EU path for both Kosovo and Serbia.”
Some 20 hand grenade attacks in two months in the ethnically split northern town of Mitrovica are aimed at derailing European Union-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia, a Kosovo official said.
Adrijana Hodzic, the head of Kosovo’s office dealing with the Serb-run north, said the violence on the ground drives away all sides “that want to do something concrete about the north.”

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