Kosovo, Serbia opposition mixed on dialogue

09/11/2012

As the negotiations progress in Brussels, the opposition in Kosovo and Serbia shows a lack of enthusiasm for the process.

By Safet Kabashaj and Bojana Milovanovic for Southeast European Times in Pristina and Belgrade -- 09/11/12

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Serbia's opposition members have called on the Constitutional Court to halt the implementation of agreements between Belgrade and Pristina. [AFP]

The new chapter of the dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which started in October, continued this week in Brussels, with the second meeting between Prime Ministers Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic mediated by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.

Initially fierce rejections from two opposition parties, Kosovo Democratic League (LDK) and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), have now diminished, leaving the Self-determination Movement (Vetevendosje!) as the only serious opponent to the dialogue.

"This dialogue is unfair because Serbia has never asked for an apology, not returned the missing persons nor paid the war damages, did not return banking and pension funds, and did not hand over war criminals," Vetevendosje said in a statement.

Serbia still controls about a quarter of Kosovo's territory, the group said, adding it opposes negotiations until Serbia recognizes Kosovo's independence. Despite their reluctant support, LDK and AAK said that any agreements reached in the dialogue need to be approved by parliament, in line with the resolution for the normalisation of relations with Serbia that was adopted on October 18th.

"The government should report [on a] regular basis to the assembly, so the highest national institution is informed on the outcome," Lutfi Haziri, senior LDK member, told SETimes.

AAK claims the normalisation of relations with Serbia must be supported, indicating the party is ready to be part of the negotiating team.

"We can't be just spectators in front of an important development for the state and our future," Burim Ramadani, AAK general secretary, told SETimes.

In Serbia, the opposition has not come around to the idea of the talks.

The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) has called on the Constitutional Court to delay the implementation of agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina so far.

Petar Petkovic, DSS spokesman, told SETimes that it is important for the court to react as soon as possible. "This is the most important state issue, hence the Constitutional Court should give it priority," Petkovic said.

He said the court's decision could affect the course of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, and have a serious impact on their continuation.

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Government officials and Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic claim they are united in their stance on the talks. They said that the relations should be resolved peacefully, without defeating either side.

Negotiations on technical issues will run simultaneously with the political talks between senior officials.

Dejan Pavicevic, head of the Serbian negotiating team for technical talks, told SETimes that the operative issue being handled at the moment was the realisation and practical implementation of the agreement on integrated border management.

"Next in line will be the matter of telecommunications, which will be part of broader talks within the political negotiations," said Pavicevic.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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