Balkans: Serbia and Kosovo start negotiations
8 March 2011
“Serbia and Kosovo at the same table” headlines Polish daily Rzeczpospolita on the very day representatives from both countries start “historical negotiations” in Brussels. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence announced on 17 February 2008, but it is very keen to join the EU. For quite a while Brussels has been putting considerable pressure on Belgrade to engage in dialogue, which is to take place every two to three weeks, to deal solely with “practical matters which are to facilitate life on both sides of the border”. The number of unresolved questions is staggering. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo passports, and to make a phone call to Kosovo one has to dial Serbia code number (+381). The Serbian minority in the northern part of Kosovo, does not recognise the Pristina administration, while teachers, police and other state employees there receive their salaries from Belgrade. Sonja Biserko, the Head of the Helsinki Committee in Belgrade, stresses the fact that the Serbian government’s talks with Kosovo’s representatives are to demonstrate that Belgrade “speaks the new language and moving a in new direction”. However, the leader of the Serbian delegation for the negotiations in Brussels remains sceptical stressing that “miracles can’t be expected”.