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Serbia-Kosovo PMs Meet In Brussels

Serbia's Ivica Dacic (left), EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton (center), and Kosovo's Hashim Thaci met in January in Brussels.
Serbia's Ivica Dacic (left), EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton (center), and Kosovo's Hashim Thaci met in January in Brussels.
By RFE/RL
BRUSSELS -- The prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo have met in Brussels for more EU-mediated talks.

This round of talks between Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, ended without a statement. The two have already held several previous meetings on normalizing relations.

The talks are due to resume on February 20.

Some 100 countries, including most of the 27 members of the European Union, have recognized Kosovo's independence from Serbia declared five years ago, but Belgrade continues to reject it.

Serbia, however, has joined talks aimed at normalizing relations with Kosovo and winning guarantees for Kosovo's Serbian minority as Belgrade hopes to improve chances of European Union membership.

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy told a news briefing in Brussels on February 19 that one of the most important issues for Kosovo, the liberalization of the visa regime, was on track, but it will take more time for Kosovo to fulfill all technical criteria.

"Let me say a few words about visa liberalization. I know how important this is for the people of Kosovo. Here again good progress has been made and the Kosovo authorities have carried out a lot of work. I am positive the prime minister [Thaci] will continue to push this forward and finish the work that still remains to be done," Van Rompuy said.

"The EU wants Kosovo to succeed but let me also clearly say that it is a technical process and the necessary criteria need to be fulfilled."

Thaci said in turn that the two sides had a common goal.

"Kosovo and Serbia are today in Brussels not to defeat each other. We are here today to find a common language, to agree on things and then to move together toward European and Atlantic integration," Thaci said.

Earlier on February 19, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he hoped the meeting between Thaci and Dacic is held "in the same constructive spirit as the previous meetings."

On February 6, the Serbian and Kosovar presidents, Tomislav Nikolic and Atifete Jahjaga, held their first meeting since Kosovo declared independence.

EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton hosted the meeting.

A U.S. State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity to RFE/RL, said that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker is also in Brussels "as part of the United States’ continued support of the EU-facilitated Dialogue, which aims for Kosovo and Serbia to normalize relations and move forward on their respective European paths."

With reporting by AFP

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