Belgrade’s chief negotiator denied late Friday that an EU-brokered deal had been reached with Kosovo to defuse tensions over the Serbia-Kosovo border.
Belgrade, SERBIA – Saturday, December 3, 2011 / The Independent NewsweeK
“Despite all our efforts today, the deal has not been reached”, the state news agency Tanjug quoted Borislav Stefanovic as saying in Brussels, after three days of marathon talks. ‘Though we came significantly closer, we still need to put the dot on the ‘i’”. The European Union said late Friday that Serbia and Kosovo had struck agreed on joint management of their border points.
Stefanovic said Belgrade ‘is ready to continue talking with the same faith and optimism’ on Saturday. But the Kosovo delegation said an agreement had indeed been hammered out. “We finally reached an agreement on an integrated management
of border crossings. Both sides agreed to implement the European model on all six crossings,’ Kosovo’s negotiator Edita Tahiri said.
She said her side was set to return to Pristina. Earlier, the EU said the two sides had struck an agreement on the issue of border management, the most difficult topic in the talks it has facilitated between the two sides in talks since March.
The deal envisaging joint management of border points was to “be gradually implemented as soon as practically possible”.
Serbia is under intense pressure to compromise, as the EU has set progress in the talks and improved relations with Kosovo as a crucial condition for recognition of the country as a candidate for EU membership. The EU is to decide on the fate of Serbia’s membership status at a summit on December 9. EU affairs ministers are to hold a preparatory debate on Monday.
Serbia’s standing in EU circles was damaged by incidents Monday, in which 30 NATO troops
were injured by ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo. The troops were attacked as they dismantled roadblocks that had been put up to prevent Kosovo officials from taking control of border points with Serbia.
Serbian President Boris Tadic condemned the violence on Wednesday, but Germany and Austria
– whose own soldiers were targeted by the attacks – have suggested that he did not do enough to prevent it.
In a speech to parliament Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
said Serbia ‘stands accused of contributing in recent days to an atmosphere where German peacekeepers in the north of Kosovo have been attacked with guns and wounded. I say that is not acceptable.’
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