Nikolic Wants Dacic to Head Kosovo Talks

As Serbia prepares to implement a deal on border crossings with Kosovo, President Tomislav Nikolic suggests that PM Ivica Dacic should lead the negotiating team.President Tomislav Nikolic told the Serbian broadcaster B92 on Sunday night that he would propose that Prime Minister Ivica Dacic heads Belgrade’s team in negotiations with Pristina.

According to the president, Dacic should assume this role because a “president of government negotiates with a president of government”, and Pristina “is proposing their prime minister”.

EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Pristina started in March 2011 aimed at normalising relations between the two countries, both of which share a desire to join the EU one day.The two sides have reached deals on trade, freedom of movement, the cadastral registry, mutual recognition of university diplomas, border control management and on the representation of Kosovo at regional meetings.

But not all of the agreements have been implemented.

On Friday, Dacic’s cabinet has formed a working group to implement the agreement on joint management of border crossings in Kosovo.

“Through the working groups, we will strive to change and improve certain decisions and make them less problematic, more acceptable to Serbia,” said Dejan Pavicevic, the head of the working group.

The Serbian government’s Secretary General, Veljko Odalovic, has told Vecernje Novosti, a Belgrade-based daily newspapers, that the group, which should meet with Kosovo’s representatives and the Brussels administration soon, will be comprised of experts from the ministries of Interior, Defence, Agriculture and Customs Administration.

Odalovic explained that the members of the working group would try to reach a solution with the Kosovo Albanians and the EU concerning ways to implement the signed document while respecting Serbian legislation.

The European Commission developed the concept of Integrated Border Management, IBM, specifically for the Western Balkans.

The basic principle is that all the relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and trade on both sides of the frontier work together in coordination.

Under the terms of the deal, Kosovo and Serbian customs and police officers will stand under one roof once the agreement is put into operation.

Police from the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX, are expected to observe the two sides jointly managing the cross-border flow of goods and passengers.

The implementation of the deal is one of key conditions for Serbia in order to get the date for the start of the EU accession talks.

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