Miroslav Lajcak has said that discussions over economic cooperation and missing and displaced persons have made “full progress” while negotiations on non-majority communities and disputed financial and property claims have now begun.
EU Special Representative for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak has outlined the progress of the EU-facilitated talks following a second meeting between Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels on Monday.
Lajcak praised the two countries’ commitment to the dialogue, stating the importance of a joint statement made by Hoti and Vucic prior to Monday’s meeting in which they “attached the highest priority” to EU integration and continuing to work on the EU-facilitated dialogue.
The Slovak diplomat added that the countries have achieved “full progress” on discussions over economic cooperation and missing and displaced persons. These two subjects were opened in the first high level meeting between Vucic and Hoti in Brussels on July 16, and discussed in a series of expert level meetings which concluded on Sunday.
Lajcak also outlined the next topics to be addressed: arrangements for non-majority communities and the settlement of mutual financial claims and property. He described these talks as being part of “negotiations for a legally binding, comprehensive agreement.”
“This was our first exchange that allowed us to define the next steps in our discussions. Our next meeting will be dedicated to these two topics,” Lajcak said. “Our negotiations today have been intense and not easy, but what precedes them is the will of both parties to continue the talks, despite the painful and complex issues at hand.”
Lajcak confirmed that another meeting will be held at expert level next week and at the leadership level later this month, reported to be on September 28.
Hoti and Vucic confirmed that they have aligned their positions on the topic of missing and displaced persons and economic cooperation in statements made to Radio Free Europe.
“We have positively concluded the issue of missing persons, which is a sensitive issue and I believe that very soon our two teams will be technically closed,” Hoti said.
“We have agreed on a mechanism for determining the registers of displaced and missing persons and access to all archives,” Vucic elaborated. “Prishtina will adopt a law on the return of displaced persons, which is an important step, although we remain reserved about the results in practice.”
Hoti also revealed that as part of the discussions on non-majority communities, the topic of the controversial Association of Serb-majority municipalities was raised.
“We have an agreement from 2015 that has been reached on the Association of Serb-majority municipalities,” Hoti told Radio Free Europe. “This agreement has been put on the table for implementation and we will now discuss it as part of the final agreement, not taking any action until we conclude the final agreement.”
The agreement reached over the Association of Serb-majority municipalities in 2015 was never ratified by the Kosovo Assembly due to blockades by opposition parties including Vetevendosje and AAK. The matter was referred to the Kosovo Constitutional Court, who deemed some elements of the agreement being contrary to the Kosovo Constitution.
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