Belgrade-Pristina talks could end custom row

Hopes are high that Belgrade and Pristina will on Friday accept an EU-worded compromise formula on the vexed issue of Kosovo custom stamps.

Kosovo and Serbia are to get back to the negotiation table on Friday in the sixth round of EU-mediated talks.

The last round was called off in July when it became clear Kosovo and Serbia were not close to compromise over the issue of Kosovo custom stamps.

Since Kosovo delcared independence in 2008, Serbia has banned the import of products labelled “Republic of Kosovo”, saying Kosovo remains a province of Serbia. Kosovo retaliated in July by introducing its own ban on Serbian products.

The proposal would have goods from Kosovo labelled “Kosovo customs”, with no state emblems, coats of arms, flags, or use of the word “republic”. Kosovo could interpret the label as referring to the customs of independent Kosovo, whereas Serbia could see it as a provincial customs label.

Ahead of the Brussels trip, Borislav Stefanovic, head of Serbia’s negotiating team, sounded upbeat, saying that every “status neutral” solution was in principle acceptable to Belgrade.

Besides customs, Friday’s talks in Brussels will cover telecommunications, energy, cadastre and regional cooperation. The talks will also review and strengthen agreements reached earlier.

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