Monday, March 28, 2011

Serbia, Kosovo, Begin Second Round of Talks

Belgrade and Pristina began a second round of direct talks in Brussels on Monday, with energy disputes among the issues on the agenda.

Bojana Barlovac, Petrit Collaku
Belgrade, Pristina

Under the aegis of the EU, the two sides are to continue discussion of topics raised in the first round three weeks ago - cadastral documents, air traffic and Kosovo's participation in regional initiatives.

The agenda of the one-day session is expected to include a couple of new topics, such as energy.

“It is quite possible that one will be the electricity supply in Kosovo,” the head of Serbia's negotiating team, Borislav Stefanovic, said. He expected the second round of talks to be successful, as no one wished the talks to last forever.

The head of Kosovo's delegation, Edita Tahiri, said she had been briefed by Kosovo experts and institutions on key energy issues. Kosovo views Serbian power companies' intrusion into the energy market in the northern, Serb-run segment of Kosovo as illegal.

There are no deadlines about when the talks should end, although they are expected to finish this year, or at the beginning of 2012.

The first round, the first such dialogue since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, was held in Brussels on March 8 and 9.

Both sides then said there was a good working atmosphere and expressed optimism about the potential for progress.

But the teams still have different expectations of the dialogue. While Tahiri maintained that for Kosovo, the country's status "is a closed chapter,” Stefanovic disagreed.

“We will try to leave our huge differences about [Kosovo's] status to one side, but, of course, resolving relations with Pristina will come up eventually in the course of this dialogue,” he said.

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