Serbia, Kosovo hold talks in rare meeting
BRUSSELS - Reuters
Kosovo Serbs wave Serbian flags as a protest in the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica. The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia held a rare meeting. AFP photoThe presidents of Serbia and Kosovo pledged on Feb. 6 to work towards mending their strained relations after holding the highest-level meeting in Brussels since the former Serbian province seceded in 2008.
European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who has mediated between Belgrade and Pristina, held the brief talks with Serbia’s Tomislav Nikolic, once an advocate of the Greater Serbia policy that fomented the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, and Atifete Jahjaga of majority-Albanian Kosovo.
Nikolic reiterated Belgrade’s position after the meeting. “If Pristina’s position stays firm, that they are an independent state, and then we will hardly reach an agreement,” he told reporters. Discussions focused on cooperation, in particular in Serb-populated northern Kosovo, a main concern for the EU. The main talks involve the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, who will meet again later in February.
“Both have assured me of their continued support and commitment to the dialogue and their respective European agendas,” Ashton said in a statement. “We are now tackling the issue of northern Kosovo and the coming weeks will be critical.”
The EU is pressing both sides to mend ties five years since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, before the bloc moves ahead with Serbia’s bid to join.