Agreement on crossings reached, confirms Serbia

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He told a news conference in Serbia’s mission to the EU that after the completion of talks Friday night, when he said that no agreement had been reached, the Belgrade delegation had received guarantees and details regarding the crossings.
Belgrade, SERBIA – Saturday, December 3, 2011 / The independent NewsweeK
“We did not cause confusion, last night there was no agreement, but in the meantime we got guarantees and details on the crossings so that now I can say that the deal was reached and will go into effect when it is adopted by the relevant national authorities and when its implementation becomes possible,” Stefanovic explained. 
The agreement, he specified, refers to the integrated control of crossings that will be unique, which means that here will be only one checkpoint which will be manned by the Serbian police and customs, EULEX officials, and Kosovo police and Kosovo customs officers who will act as observers.
Stefanovic said that the agreement had improved the foreign policy position of Serbia on the eve of the decision on Serbia’s EU candidacy next week. The text of the agreement which Tanjug had access to reads that EULEX officials will have the executive function at two crossings, which is in accordance with their mandate.

EULEX will have the authority and Kosovo officials will act as observers. 

Stefanovic also pointed out that contrary to what Pristina requested, the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings would have a special status, as EULEX had no executive function for the rest. 
“Serbia’s bodies will act as at Rudnica,” he said, thereby referring to the checkpoint which is located in central Serbia before the administrative line. 
According to Stefanovic, the customs observers will not have executive authorizations.  “This solution confirmed Serbia’s statehood and fully complies with its Constitution and the UN Security Council Resolution 1244,” he stressed.

Stefanovic explained that this agreement did not cover the fiscal and revenue arrangements so that Pristina would not be able to abuse it and conduct its tax policy on its basis. “In reaching this agreement, we took care about the situation on the ground, which means that citizens who use Serbian registration plates and documents cannot be harassed and punished,” he said. 

As a special success in this agreement, Stefanovic noted that Serbia’s police and financial officers would return to Kosovo and there exercise their functions, which is in accordance with Resolution 1244. 
“At the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings there would be no state symbols on which Pristina attempted to insist,” he explained. Stefanovic added that the main problem during the course of talks so far was Pristina’s attempt to impose confirmation of state border and symbols but that this had been prevented.
“The concept of integrated management of the crossings was proposed by Serbia, not by Pristina or the EU,” he noted.  Stefanovic said that care had to be taken of the real situation on the ground, which had deteriorated due to unilateral moves by Pristina after reaching the agreement on customs stamps. 
“It was necessary to return to dialogue and find a joint solution and in this we succeeded. Now it remains for the state authorities to take the necessary decisions to implement this agreement,” he pointed out. 
He added that the full text of the agreement would be submitted to the parliament and the competent committees so that everything would be transparent.

According to Stefanovic, as regards the regional representation of Pristina, although the attitude of the two delegations in the early rounds were considerably brought closer on this issue, no deal had been made so far.  He said that the talks would be resumed next week via video link.   The EU says that the the implementation of the agreement will start on December 26. 

Stefanovic said on Friday night that no agreement had been reached.  “Bearing in mind that it will be requested from the parties to gradually harmonize their legislation with the EU legal heritage, the parties reached consent about a concept of integrated management of the crossings that was developed by the EU,” the EU has stated in a release. 
This means that the parties will gradually form joint, integrated and individual field offices at all joint crossings. The EU added that EULEX would be present at the crossings in accordance with its mandate. 
“The concept of integrated management of crossings will be gradually implemented in practice as soon as possible,” it is added in the announcement. 
The EU pointed out that the parties had an essential discussion about an efficient and inclusive regional cooperation, that a great progress had been made and that the issue would be discussed at the next meeting as well. 
According to the release, Belgrade and Pristina also continued discussions from previous rounds, including telecommunication and energy and they also talked about the implementation of the agreements that have been reached so far.

It is expected that the agreement on freedom of movement will be fully implemented as of December 26. In accordance with the agreement on birth registries the parties will be able to copy documents as of December 5. 

The EU stressed that the talks would continue in the next several days.  “After three days of marathon talks we finally reached an agreement on the integrated control of the crossings. Both
parties have agreed to implement a European model at all six crossings,” Pristina team head Edita Tahiri pointed out after the meeting on Friday.

According to her, the agreement envisages that the crossings will be controlled by both sides and all three sides, Belgrade, Pristina and the international community, will soon sign a protocol. 

She also stressed that the talks would not continue on Saturday.  “We are going back to Pristina tomorrow morning,” Tahiri said.
Belgrade lost control of Kosovo in 1999 after a NATO bombing campaign was launched to stop alleged war crimes committed by Serbs against ethnic Albanians. In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia, though Belgrade still considers Kosovo a Serbian province.
More than 80 countries have now recognized Kosovo as an independent state, including the United States and most members of the European Union.

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