Belgrade–Pristina dialogue is a series of EU-facilitated talks between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo. Serbia claims Kosovo as its southern province under United Nations administration, and rejects its independence. Kosovo considers Serbia as a neighboring state. The negotiations began in March 2011. They are the first negotiations between the two entities since Kosovo declared independence.
The Republic of Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008, and that move has only been partially recognised internationally. Serbia took the issue to the International Court of Justice for their advisory opinion. The court's verdict was that Kosovo's Declaration of independence was in accordance with international law. After the verdict Serbia and the European Union submitted a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly which called for technical negotiations between the governments in Belgrade and Pristina. The Serbia-EU resolution passed in the UN General Assembly. The talks were delayed due to Kosovo's government collapsing, forcing Kosovo into early elections.
The talks take place in Brussels, Belgium and are mediated by the European Union represented by Robert Cooper. Borko Stefanović leads the Belgrade negotiating team and Edita Tahiri leads the Pristina negotiating team. The talks began on 8 March 2011 and feature three main issues:
The First Round of dialogue took place on 8–9 March 2011 and covered economic co-operation between the two parties. Other issues on the agenda during the first round of dialogue were telecommunications, air traffic, customs seals, land books and civil records.
The second round of negotiations was delayed until 28 March 2011. Issues discussed in the second round of talks were electricity and possibly Freedom of Movement, as well as concluding first round topics such as Kosovo's customs seal, air traffic and Kosovo's participation in regional initiatives. On 28 March, the representative discussed land books and registries of births, deaths and marriages, as well as power supply issues. Stefanović stated that "Certain progress has been achieved on land books, birth registries and electric energy supply; we laid out our proposal and hope that there will finally be a positive wrap-up of these topics at the next meeting".
The fourth round was held on 17 and 18 May 2011. Agreement was almost reached on the cadaster and freedom of movement; the European Union proposed to also tackle the issues of missing people and cultural heritage.
The fifth round was set to take place on 14 and 15 June 2011, but was delayed a few days before. It was assumed that it would instead be held in late June, but was then set for 2 July 2011. It was expected that solutions would be reached on the cadaster, freedom of movement and vital records. Electricity and telecommunications issues might also be resolved in that round. Agreement was reached on freedom of movement across the border (both persons and cars), exchange of information regarding Serbia's civil registries to help Kosovo establish its own civil registry, and recognising each other's education diplomas.
The sixth round was to take place on 20 and 21 July 2011. They were postponed to September just a day before, allegedly because Kosovo's representative wanted to have Kosovo's state symbols shown, which the Serbian representative rejected. They were later set for 2 September 2011. Agreement was reached on the customs issue (the stamp will only feature the words "Customs of Kosovo") and on the cadaster; while telecommunications and university degrees were also discussed, no agreement was reached on these issues.
The seventh round was scheduled for 28 September 2011 (it was initially scheduled for 27 September, but was postponed shortly before due to a flare-up in violence). The Serb delegation refused to continue with the talks whilst Kosovo police and customs officials control border posts, which was not previously agreed and resulted in violence. The talks were then set for 14 October 2011, though only technical issues were planned to be discussed.
It is expected additional agreements to be concluded about:
|Albania||Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha stated that he supports the "technical talks".|
|Austria||Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said he thinks the start of the talks between Belgrade and Pristina was good and yielded results, despite a dose of restraint. He also welcomed the progress made in the talks, but stressed that normal relations between Serbia and Kosovo were still far away.|
|Croatia||On 28 March 2011 Gordan Jandroković the Croatian Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration stated that "We support technical dialogue between the two states of Kosovo and Serbia, as two independent states. On this question, Croatia can serve as a model for regional cooperation, resolving technical issues between regional states".|
|European Union||EU Mediator Robert Cooper stated that "The atmosphere was good. This was the first official meeting held in the last few years. The atmosphere was really good, friendly and sincere".|
|France||French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Kosovo has progressed since declaring independence in 2008, however he said that Kosovo needs to reform more and that is the objective of the dialogue with Belgrade.|
|Iran||Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast stated that "The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the beginning of direct talks between Serbia and Kosovo in line with the UN General Assembly's resolution".|
|Kosovo||On 10 March 2011, the Kosovo Assembly passed a resolution (63 for and 57 against) in support of negotiations between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The resolution states that the negotiations should deal with "technical issues of common interest" and "can in no case involve the sovereignty ... and territorial integrity of Kosovo".|
|Serbia||On 9 March 2011, Serbian Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović stated that the negotiations were "an opportunity to get to a historic compromise and historic reconciliation because the problems in the relations between Serbs and Albanians have already been there over the past few centuries" however "we will never recognise Kosovo as an independent creation, and it is good that these discussions have not been given a fixed term and that participants in the talks will not go to Brussels with ready-made solutions". Borko Stefanović stated that Belgrade wants to discuss the status of Kosovo during the negations however Pristina is strongly opposed to negotiating on status and says that status is not up for negotiating. Stefanović rejected the claim that these were only 'technical negotiations', he states that "some issues only appear technical, but have a strong political dimension. Pristina's continued insistence on independence is nothing but self-encouragement".|
|United States||U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick said "we hope that this will be a positive and constructive process which will lead to betterment of everyday life of people in both countries. We strongly support the talks, and both teams have opened the dialogue well."|