American and EU diplomacy chiefs will urge Serbia and Kosovo to implement their border agreement by the end of the year when they tour the Balkans, starting October 29.Hillary Clinton and the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Catherine Ashton, are to tell Belgrade and Pristina to accelerate work on implementing agreements reached in EU-led talks, especially on border crossings.
The US State Department announced Clinton’s visit to the Balkans from October 29 to 2 November 2 on Wednesday. She and Ashton will also visit Bosnia, Albania and Croatia as well as Serbia and Kosovo.
“The EU wishes to see that the parties get things moving on the issue of the IBM [Integrated Border Management] by the end of the year,” a diplomat told BIRN.
Pristina and Belgrade reached an agreement on management of Kosovo’s controversial nothern border crossings with Serbia in Brussels on December 2, 2011.
However, the negotiators have disputed the meaning of the EU-mediated agreement with both sides claiming victory.
While Kosovo says the agreement reached in Brussels means that Belgrade effectively recognised Kosovo’s independence, Serbia says it means no such thing, since it does not recognise the Kosovo border as a state border.
EU-mediated talks started in March last year aimed at normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia, both of which share a desire to join the EU one day.
In Sarajevo, meanwhile, Clinton and Ashton “will underline the urgent need for party leaders to serve the interests of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and accomplish necessary reforms, and will stress the immutability of the international community’s commitment to the Dayton Peace Accords,” the State Department statement said.
Clinton last visited the Balkans in 2010, when she also urged progress on the region’s most unsettled ethnic puzzle, Kosovo.