Dacic, Thaci Agree Customs for North Kosovo

In the fourth round of the EU-mediated dialogue, Serbia’s prime minister and his Kosovo counterpart agreed on customs duties and VAT for Serb-run north Kosovo.Following a five-hour meeting, which ended late on Thursday, the two prime ministers reached “a provisional understanding on the collection of customs duties, levies and VAT,” Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs chief, said.

“We agreed to meet for an intensive dialogue in February, in which we hope to make significant progress on issues that we have identified in line with the December 2012 conclusions of the Council of the EU,” she added.

This was the fourth meeting between Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci in Brussels. They first met on October 19 with Ashton, who is now the main mediator in the talks.

The EU-mediated talks started in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

Serbia has vowed never to recognise Kosovo as a state, but says it is open to deals that improve daily lives on both sides of the [from Serbia’s point of view unrecognised] border.

So far, the two sides have reached deals on freedom of movement, university diplomas, regional representation and on trade. But not all the deals have been implemented.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Dacic said an agreement had been reached on customs on crossings in north Kosovo.

“We agreed that customs paid on administrative crossings will go to a special fund under EU auspices, aimed at development of the municipalities in north Kosovo,” Dacic said.

He added that this was a temporary solution and that the technical details are yet to be discussed.

Dacic said the two prime minister also discussed Serbian-funded so-called parallel institutions in north Kosovo, to which the Kosovo government objects.

“We discussed how to reach an agreement and find a solution for institutions that will be acceptable for both Pristina and the Kosovo Serbs,” Dacic said.While preparations were ongoing for the meeting, activists from the Kosovo nationalist Self-Determination Movement staged a protest in front of Ashton’s office in Brussels.

“No negotiations with Milosevic’s spokesperson”, a banners by protesters read, referring to the former Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic.

Protesters said that no negotiations should be held until the issue of missing persons from the Kosovo confict was solved and until Serbia had recognised Kosovo.

“We are convinced…no process of normalization between Serbia and Kosovo is possible without Kosovo’s recognition by Serbia,” their letter to Ashton said.

The Self-Determination Movement, which is represented in Kosovo’s parliament, has sopposed the dialogue with Serbia since the process started.

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