No Agreement on Serbia, Kosovo Participation in Conference

Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian top officials have failed to agree on a formula that would allow both Belgrade and Pristina delegations to participate in a regional conference on the Western Balkans to be held in March in Slovenia.

The cabinet of President Boris Tadic has denied statements by Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar, who said that delegations from Belgrade and Pristina would take part in the conference, albeit without their names written.

The Serbian president stressed that his country wanted representatives of all people living in Serbia to participate in regional forums, under certain conditions. Serbia asks that Kosovo representatives participate in the “format defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1244”.

“That’s an elementary prerequisite for Serbia’s participation in such a forum and that’s why it wants that all doubts about this be settled,” said Tadic.

Meanwhile, Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci announced they would attend the event “only as representatives of the state of Kosovo”.

Serbian officials have boycotted or walked out on a number of events in which Kosovo has not been represented under the title of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Serbian President Boris Tadic did not attend the February inauguration of Croatian President Ivo Josipovic because Kosovo’s president confirmed his presence.

Meanwhile, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, who attended a regional ministerial conference on border security in Tirana on Friday, reportedly left the room when Kosovo’s interior minister took the floor to address the conference participants.

Tadic met Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and her Slovenian counterpart, Borut Pahor, in the town of Ptuj in Slovenia on Friday to discuss a conference on the EU integration of the Western Balkans, which is scheduled to be held in Brdo, Slovenia on March 20.

The conference, which has been named “Together for the European Union: Contribution of the Western Balkans to the European Future”, would be the first meeting of all the political leaders in the region in 18 years.

According to the Slovenian daily Vecer, the meeting is a clear signal to other countries in Southeast Europe that old grievances can be overcome and bilateral disputes resolved.

Slovenian and Croatian officials, who are the organisers of the event, have announced that the conference is being put together with the support of the EU Council. Pahor and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton agreed earlier in February that a conference on the Western Balkans should be held with the goal of resolving some of the open issues in the region.

In addition, EU foreign ministers have reportedly agreed that a meeting of the EU and Western Balkans foreign ministers should be held in Sarajevo in June. According to WAZ.EUobserver.com, there is some concern that the March conference could overshadow the summer meeting, which is being organised by the Spanish EU Presidency.

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