The EU is keen to see dialogue resume between Pristina and Belgrade; talks have been halted amid violence at crossing gates in northern Kosovo.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 04/11/11
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule addresses the media after meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic (right) in Belgrade on October 14th. [Reuters]
The EU wants to see Serbian and Kosovo negotiators back at the bargaining table in Brussels, and EU candidate Serbia seems to have little choice in the matter.
As Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule told the Serb daily Politika, "The European Commission recommended that Serbia be granted [EU candidate] status without any additional requirements, expecting that Belgrade would continue the talks with Pristina and start implementing in good faith the agreements reached so far."
Serbian Secretary of State for Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic says that he sees a solution only in negotiations, adding that if Kosovo is not ready, both the EU and the United States should intervene.
"We are ready for talks anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day, but only if we will be treated as an equal partner," North Mitrovica Mayor Krstomir Pantic told SETimes.
EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told SETimes that dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade should resolve practical problems on the ground, so that both sides can move towards eventual EU membership.
"If we are talking about territories, we believe that there shouldn't be any more changes of borders in the Western Balkans. Therefore, this is something that the EU stands on," Kocijancic said.
"It is for the Kosovo authorities to finalise [details of the strategy], but there are some elements that have to be there," Kocijancic said, without elaborating.
The Union has asked Kosovo to prepare a comprehensive strategy for the north, which Kosovo authorities responded to by establishing a co-ordination office for the north.
The office's latest report, provided to SETimes by its head, Ylber Hysa, includes information on Serbian sponsored institutions in the north. These so-called parallel structures are a large part of the problem.
The report notes that while Kosovo police operate in the north, they are not fully in charge. "It lacks a functioning court house, [resulting in] citizens who are confused between the feeling of political-ethnic loyalty and the need for a life of dignity, rule of law and economic welfare."
Organised crime remains a huge issue, as does financial hardship. The report highlights the need for economic development in the north as the way forward.
Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci says Pristina wants to do more than establish the rule of law in the north. It wants to make the area "attractive" for Serbs there, meaning assistance and support.
"Due to the situation there, for 12 years we have not been able to offer [the area] road infrastructure, schools, economic assistance, or other development such as in agriculture, which is something that makes us distant to them," Kuci told the Kosovo media.
He added that "removing" criminals and barricades are the first things to be done, without hurting innocent citizens.
Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade contributed to this article.