Kosovo, Serbia Pledge Action on Border Control

Kosovo and Serbia working groups, dealing with implementation of the Integrated Border Management deal, on Thursday agreed in Brussels to put what they had agreed into action.Kosovo and Serbia vowed to honour a deal reached earlier on Integrated Border Management under the auspices of the EU-facilitated dialogue and agreed to implement a set of tasks as soon as possible.

“The working groups have defined the duties and responsibilities that both parties … have over the agreement,” a press release from the Kosovo government on Thursday said.

The two sides reached an agreement on management of border crossings in Brussels on December 2, 2011.

However, the issue is controversial in Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo’s independence declared in 2008.

The deal formed part of the EU-mediated Pristina-Belgrade talks, which started in March 2011. Serbia has not implemented the agreement since then.

While Pristina says the border agreement reached in Brussels means that Belgrade has effectively recognised Kosovo’s independence, Serbia says it means no such thing.

Following Thursday’s meeting in Brussels, the Serbian government issued no comment.

“Kosovo is engaged in intensifying the implementation of the IBM and has asked the EU, as mediator of the process, to increase its engagement in this direction,” the Kosovo government said.

The meeting at working-group level in Brussels is the first of its kind since both parties signed the deal.

The basic principle of the IBM 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.

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