Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dacic: Crossings will not be borders

BRUSSELS - Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic stated late Tuesday, after a marathon third round of high-level talks in Brussels, that the regime of crossing the administrative lines will not change, and urged Kosovo Serbs to trust their government.

  "The regime will not change, customs duties will not be charged," Dacic said after more than four hours long working dinner with Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Taci and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. The meeting was mostly dedicated to the implementation of the agreement on the integrated crossings management at the administrative line (IBM), which Dacic qualified as "one of the most difficult ones Serbia had to accept." 

 He said several times that the government has committed itself to implementing the agreements that have already been reached, which is why it does not have much room for maneuver. Nevertheless, Dacic added, it was agreed that Serbs from Kosovo will not be charged customs duties and that they will be allowed to use Serbian IDs and license plates.

 "If the other party causes problems and does not act in keeping with these agreements, we will discontinue the implementation of the agreement," Dacic cautioned. "The crossings will not be new borders," he pointed out, and added that four new crossings will be opened by year's end and that the issue of revenue collection will be considered later on.

 He also called on Serbs from Kosovo to "trust their government." "Between a rock and a hard place, we will always choose our people," the prime minister noted. The officials also discussed the preservation of the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo, the issue of missing persons and the appointement of liaison officers at the EU office in Belgrade and Pristina. "There will not be any special offices or diplomatic missions, but simply liaison officers who will be sitting at the EU offices," Dacic said. He announced that the working groups will meet again in Brussels on January 10, and that the next high-level meeting will be held later in January. 

 Kosovo Prime Minister Taci told a separate press conference that customs duties will not be charged at the crossings and that there will not be any state labels of Serbia or Kosovo there. He said that "one of the best ambassadors of Kosovo" will soon be appointed as liaison officer to Belgrade. Catherine Ashton's office released in the meantime that the pilot implementation of the IBM agreement will start on two crossings as of December 10, and that two more crossings will be ready on December 31. "The two Prime Minister agreed to each appoint a liaison officer. To begin with, as part of the EU's facilitating role, the EU Delegation in Belgrade and the EU Office in Pristina will provide the liaison office for the liaison officers," says the release. Ashton announced that Dacic and Taci will meet again in Brussels on January 17. Screenshot Video Tanjug, D.Pavlovic

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