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Thaci Accuses Serbia Of Hindering Integration Of Kosovo Justice System

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci
Kosovar President Hashim Thaci

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci has accused Serbia of hindering ethnic Serb judges and prosecutors from taking an oath and joining the country’s judicial system.

Thaci said in a statement on October 17 that his office was ready to host 42 judges and 14 prosecutors from Kosovo's Serb minority for the oath, adding that "they did not come because they were hindered by the Republic of Serbia."

This is "another failure and disability of the EU as a mediator" in the implementation of the February 2015 Justice Agreement between Belgrade and Pristina to integrate the courts in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo into the country's judicial system.

Speaking at a press briefing in Brussels, Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, said the European Union regrets that Serbia asked to postpone the integration of the Kosovo Serb judicial personnel into the Kosovo judiciary.

Kocijancic had told RFE/RL on October 16 that "all the steps have been completed" for such integration to take place and that both sides "met their obligations in this respect."

On August 31, Mogherini hosted a meeting with Thaci and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels as part of an effort to move forward dialogue between the two neighbors and normalize ties.

After the talks, her office said that the two presidents confirmed that the Justice Agreement would be "fully implemented" on October 17.

"On that day, judges, prosecutors, and judicial staff will be integrated into the Kosovo judiciary," a statement said. "The integration of the judicial personnel will allow for justice to be delivered across Kosovo and, in particular, in [the northern] Mitrovica region."

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized by 115 countries but not by Belgrade.

Currently there are around 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo and most of them, mainly in the north, oppose the Pristina authorities.

Kosovar Albanians, who are the ethnic majority in the small Balkan nation, oppose greater autonomy for Serb-dominated municipalities, saying that this would give Belgrade more influence.

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