Anger in Serbia as Kosovo sets conditions for continuing Brussels process

By bne IntelliNews October 27, 2016

Kosovo’s Minister for Dialog Edita Tahiri has reportedly submitted a document to the European Commission listing four conditions for continuing the dialogue with Belgrade. News of the conditions drew an angry response from Serbian officials. 

The latest news has caused consternation in Belgrade, as officials said the Serbian side has already made many compromises in the normalisation process, but was not prepared to make unlimited concessions even given the incentive of progress towards EU accession. 

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have been on the rise since beginning of October when Kosovo’s government adopted controversial law on ownership of Trepca mining complex which put an additional burden on the already hard and complex process of normalisation. 

The conditions proposed by Tahiri include establishing a border between Serbia and Kosovo, respect for neighbourhoods, non-interference and the end of Serbia’s intervention in Kosovo, as well as cooperation in fields of interest for both sides, according to local daily Koha Ditore.

“The dialogue will continue but not under Pristina’s conditions … If these are the conditions, there will not be any talks,” Serbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and First Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic told public broadcaster Radio-televizija Srbije on October 26. He added that Serbia was “not a punchbag”.

Dacic also claimed the list was “impudence for domestic consumption” and proposed that Tahiri “hang this [list] on the noticeboard in Kosovo’s parliament.”

"If Pristina thinks discussions are to be held by setting conditions and ultimatums and is really not prepared to talk in any other way … it means they are giving up on the dialogue," the head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo-Metohija Marko Djuric told Tanjug.

The Serbian government plans to hold a session on the issue on October 27. 

Meanwhile, the Slovakian EU Presidency said on October 25 that a consensus among EU members on the opening of a new chapter in Serbia’s accession process has not yet been reached, Tanjug reported.

“Chapter 5 (on public procurement) in Serbia's EU accession talks will be opened once all 28 member states have reached a consensus. Yhe required consensus is not in place at this time and we are not in a position to announce a potential date for the opening of the chapter,” the Slovak Presidency said in a written statement submitted to Tanjug.

Initially, Slovakia had planned to organise the opening of three new chapters in the accession talks with Serbia by the end of 2016, with Chapter 5 unofficially slated for opening on October 26.

The green light for opening new chapters in Serbia's EU accession talks by the end of the year will depend on a progress report on the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbia's chief EU negotiator Tanja Miscevic said on October 25.


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