BRUSSELS – After the fifth round of talks between Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hasim Taci in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dacic revealed more details about Belgrade’s proposal to form a community of Serb municipalities as a solution for the parallelism of institutions in northern Kosovo.
“Regardless of what some in the international community call these institutions, they are the only ones in this part of Kosovo,” Dacic told reporters after a four-hour meeting with Taci at the office of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on Wednesday.
He stressed the existing institutions will not be dismantled until it is decided what will replace them. What Belgrade wants is to put new institutions run by the community of Serb municipalities in their place, he said.
According to the proposal, the community would be made up of all municipalities in which the Serbs are the majority, rather than just those in northern Kosovo.
“This community should have significant authority, make Serb self-government possible and play an important role in the political life of Kosovo,” said the prime minister, saying this would make it possible to solve all problems facing the Kosovo Serbs.
Dacic said details of the structure and jurisdictions of the nine Serb municipalities in Kosovo will be discussed by working groups and then during the next round of dialogue with Taci set for March 4.
“We will talk about how municipal representatives will be elected, directly or indirectly,” he said, noting that the deadline for reaching an agreement was tight, since progress in the dialogue is a key condition Serbia needs to fulfill in order to get a date for opening accession talks with the EU this June.
“There are no new conditions, but the question is what we will do with the old ones, which are difficult enough to cause us a great deal of trouble,” he said.
He said he is happy the idea about a community of Serb municipalities has found its way to the negotiating table and is not being disputed by anyone, but noted it still requires a lot of work as it encompasses many issues.
“When you speak of parallelism of institutions, you are talking about the formation of municipalities, the judiciary, security structures – which they keep mentioning, but we say we do not have – and about education, health care, finances,” said Dacic.
He said Belgrade and Pristina’s views on what the community should look like still diverged significanly.
“They have agreed to talk about this, but they disagree with the competencies we have proposed and everything else,” said Dacic.
The prime minister said this round of dialogue passed in a constructive atmosphere despite the disagreement, and that the community of Serb municipalities is a matter that should be discussed further even though it opens the issue of Kosovo’s status, noting this is the way to arrive at a comprehensive solution.
“Our activities will continue, but we will certainly not do anything against our people in Kosovo,” underlined Dacic, stressing that his political line in the dialogue are the parliamentary Resolution and the government Platform on Kosovo.