The EU-brokered dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina resumed on Thursday in Brussels at a technical level. However, even after hours of discussion, it remained unclear whether interlocutors discussed topics agreed beforehand, or about elements of an alleged comprehensive accord, as the Kosovo side has been insisting on.
This was the second expert-level meeting, following the meeting of representatives of Belgrade and Pristina who met on July 23 in Brussels to discuss missing and displaced persons. After this meeting, as has become customary, there have been no common points in the statements of the two delegation members, including on what was the topic of discussion in the first place.
Director of Government Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric said that negotiations resumed at expert level, that Belgrade has voiced “very strong messages”, and that Pristina was required to stop making false statements regarding the content of the talks.
He commented a very strong spin in Serbian pro-government media which, in the days ahead of the meeting, speculated that Belgrade will be required to allow Kosovo membership in the UN, and to tacitly recognize its proclaimed independence, in exchange for a vague prospect of membership in the EU as “reward”.
“There is no ultimatum. (…) These have not been and will not be discussions about independence, but about the normalization of life”, Djuric said.
He added that he “said in the face” of Kosovo negotiator Skender Hyseni that he is tired of listening to lies from Pristina that talks are about the independence of Kosovo and that this will be recognized through a comprehensive agreement.
“This will not be the result of it, but it can result in normalization of relations, regular trade, education, traffic, business, economic growth for both sides. If you are in favor of that, Serbia is always prepared for it, but don’t undermine the talks before and after every meeting by making false statements on what’s been the topic of discussions, for the sake of your own public”, Djuric said.
Coordinator of the Kosovo government for dialogue with Belgrade Hyseni declared that the topic of the discussion was “the chapters of a comprehensive agreement that will be legally binding” and added that these are not a partial solution to any particular issue.
After the meeting, he said that they negotiated about elements of a general accord that will ultimately become legally binding and that this should result in normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, which inevitably should include mutual recognition.
Hysneni described the character of the dialogue as “distinctly political” because it contains provisions of the general accord that defines political and legal obligations.
Hyseni said that no accord will be made with Belgrade in case “mutual recognition” is not the ultimate outcome of the dialogue.
EU special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina talks Miroslav Lajcak, who brokered the meeting, described the meeting of expert teams in Brussels as “another important step” in the dialogue process and announced the continuation of talks for the end of August.
“Today’s expert-level meeting of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue was another important step in the process towards a comprehensive legally-binding agreement to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Our work will continue at the end of August”, Lajcak wrote on Twitter.