Some analysts hope the latest decision by Belgrade will improve regional co-operation, as well as Serbia's EU accession.
By Ivana Jovanovic and Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Belgrade and Pristina -- 10/09/12
The agreement will allow Kosovo and Serbia representatives to attend the same regional meetings. [Reuters]
The Serbian government will participate in regional and international forums in which Kosovo is represented and identified with an asterisk, but not a footnote, as was previously agreed in Brussels. The EU lauded the move as a step toward comprehensive regional co-operation.
Belgrade said the footnote content will be added in the documents pertaining to the various meetings. It also instructed Serbian officials to insist that the manner of Pristina's representation at the meetings be strictly applied, with no flag or other symbols, as well as to require UNMIK presence.
"By itself, the asterisk is enough to confirm that the Albanian side did not get what it wants and there is still more to [Kosovo's independence]," Dejan Radenkovic, member of the Serbian parliament's board for Kosovo, told SETimes.
Kosovo's regional participation was a key issue during the last round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels, where they agreed that Kosovo can participate at regional meetings and sign new agreements on its own account with an asterisk by its name followed by a footnote.
The footnote stated "the designation is without prejudice to the positions on Kosovo's status, and is in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice opinion on Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence."
The footnote became an issue because without its full content next to the name Kosovo, Belgrade stopped participating in international meetings.
The government justified its latest decision by arguing that when it does not attend regional events, it is deprived of the opportunity to present its Kosovo policy and protect the national interest.
"Being absent from regional meetings, Serbia also encountered direct and indirect economic losses," the government said.
Kosovo's Foreign Ministry said Serbia is fulfilling an obligation its representatives pledged to implement in the presence of EU and other international organisations.
"The implementation of the agreements reached in Brussels is decisive for the further steps, because otherwise, the reliability of the process will be questioned," the ministry told SETimes in a statement.
Belul Beqaj, professor at Pristina University, said the agreement is a step for the new Serbian government. "This is a positive step and a new pragmatic approach of Belgrade, but it will reflect negatively on the problem of the north," Beqaj told SETimes.
Some analysts argue the move will have a positive overall effect because it will improve Belgrade-Pristina relations, regional co-operation as well as Serbian EU accession.
"The decision will be beneficial to Serbia but also to Kosovo because several regional countries have not recognised its independence, and that was disturbing regional co-operation," Dragan Djukanovic of the European Movement in Serbia told SETimes.
Common language among the political leaders on both sides will relieve people of the political issues and allow them to address day-to-day concerns, according to Sladjana Aritonovic, 27, a hairdresser from Gnjilane in central Kosovo.
"I just want them to find common ground and stop fighting. This act by Belgrade could be one for peace, and I hope it will be in reality," Aritonovic told SETimes.