Serbia to Resolve Customs Deadlock With Kosovo: Dacic

Serbia and Kosovo agreed to share control over collecting custom duties and related taxes by forming a special fund that will be overseen by the European Union, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said.

In a possible breakthrough in the EU-mediated talks between Serbia and its former province over trade and border control, they agreed to use the fund for development of municipalities in northern Kosovo, the home of the 100,000-strong Serb community in the mostly ethnic Albanian-populated Kosovo, Dacic said after meeting with his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci in Brussels today.

Both sides need to hammer out details of the arrangement that may serve until a political settlement is reached over Kosovo’s 2008 secession that Serbia refuses to recognize, Dacic said, according to a statement posted on the government’s website. Mending ties with Kosovo is a key condition for Serbia to start entry talks with the 27-nation bloc. The EU may decide on a date to start accession talks with Serbia “in the spring,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said today.

The EU “will review progress in the spring with a view to a possible decision to open accession negotiations,” Van Rompuy told reporters today in Brussels after meeting with Serbia’s Dacic. “Time is of the essence.”

Normalizing relations with Kosovo “now remains the key requirement for Serbia and the opening of accession negotiations,” Van Rompuy said. “This includes fully respecting the principles of inclusive regional cooperation” and “finding solutions on the more difficult issues in northern Kosovo.”

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