EU hails Serbia normalizing ties with Kosovo

Updated 19 January 2013
0

EU hails Serbia normalizing ties with Kosovo

BRUSSELS: Serbia has made enough progress in normalizing relations with Kosovo for the EU to look at the possibility of opening accession talks with Belgrade, EU president Herman Van Rompuy said yesterday.
The EU will “uphold its commitment to Serbia (and) ... review progress in the spring with a view to a possible decision to open accession negotiations. Time is of the essence,” Van Rompuy said after meeting Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic. Serbia is an EU candidate for membership and Kosovo hopes to formalize ties but the EU says both must pursue dialogue and produce concrete results first.
Dacic met his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci Thursday in talks chaired by EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton, agreeing to another round and making some progress on expanding a tentative accord on the sensitive northern border. Van Rompuy said he welcomed Belgrade’s “continued commitment ... to the EU agenda” and Dacic’s efforts in the talks with Thaci.
“I strongly encourage both prime ministers to make the best use of this time and accelerate the work,” he said in a statement.
Despite the progress, however, “normalizing relations with Pristina now remains the key requirement for Serbia and the opening of accession negotiations,” Van Rompuy said.
Earlier this week, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic rejected an idea floated by Dacic that Belgrade agree to Kosovo’s bid to join the United Nations.
Ashton said meanwhile that her talks with Dacic and Thaci were “long and constructive.”
“We agreed to meet for an intensive dialogue in February, in which we hope to make significant progress on issues we have identified,” Ashton said.
Building on the border accord, Dacic and Thaci “came to a provisional understanding on the collection of customs duties, levies and VAT,” she added. Ashton has taken the lead in sponsoring the talks aimed at normalising ties since Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence in 2008.
Pristina has won recognition from some 90 states, including the United States, and from 22 out of the EU’s 27 members.


Two suicide bombers kill three in north Nigeria mosque

Updated 22 April 2018
0

Two suicide bombers kill three in north Nigeria mosque

KANO: Two suicide bombers killed three Muslim worshippers in a mosque in a northeast Nigerian town still being rebuilt after virtual destruction by Boko Haram in 2014, sources told AFP Sunday.
The bombers, a man and a woman, detonated their explosives inside the mosque during morning prayers on Saturday in the town of Bama in Borno state.
The pair "blew themselves up in a mosque while people were praying, killing three people," said Baba Shehu Gulumba, Bama local government chairman.
A senior military officer in Bama confirmed the death toll, adding that nine people were also injured.
"Some of the injured are in a critical condition and may hardly make it. They have been transferred to Maiduguri for better medical care," said the military officer, who asked not to be named.
The attack came two weeks after residents began returning to the town which was destroyed by Boko Haram four years ago.
Bama, a major trading hub on the road to Cameroon and home to 270,000 people, was captured in September 2014, forcing residents to flee to Maiduguri, the state capital.
When it was retaken by the Nigerian military in March 2015, 85 percent of the town had been demolished by the jihadists.
Borno state officials said it would require 40 billion naira (94 million euros, $111 million) to rebuild the town, a staggering amount in the impoverished region.
According to officials 11,000 homes had been rebuilt which residents said represent one-third of those destroyed.
On April 5 the state's information commissioner Mohammed Bulama said 1,200 people had returned to the town in a phased resettlement of the 100,000 displaced residents living in camps in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has been notorious for suicide attacks on civilian and military targets in response to army offensives that have put pressure on the militant group.
Recent days have seen a lull in such attacks.
However on Friday 10 people including four militia fighting the militants were injured when two female suicide bombers attacked Amarwa village in Konduga district, 38 kilometres from Maiduguri, according to militia sources.