Serbia and Kosovo Settle Some Differences Ahead of Vote, EU Says

Serbia and its former province Kosovo settled differences over telecommunications and energy supply in the tense areas of Serb-populated northern Kosovo, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

The former foes also made some progress on Kosovo elections in which Serbs living there, most of whom don’t regard Kosovo as a country, are expected to take part, Ashton said today in Brussels after meeting with Serb Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci. Their cooperation is vital for Serbia to be able to start entry talks with the bloc.

“It’s really important to see people come for these elections and cast their vote,” Ashton said in a statement posted on the European Council’s website.

Serbia agreed in April to improve relations with Kosovo and encourage Serbs living there to take part in elections and institutions. The agreement was reached under EU pressure against Serbia’s refusal to accept Kosovo’s 2008 secession. Dacic said in Brussels that Serbs voting and running in the Nov. 3 ballot would be able to use Serbian-issued documents, state newswire Tanjug reported today. He also said he saw EU accession talks beginning as early as December.

The telecommunications agreement means calls between Serbia and northern Kosovo won’t be billed as international calls, Dacic said, according to Tanjug. Telecom operators with Serbia-issued licenses may also remain in northern Kosovo at least until 2015 when the former province may call a tender for operators, state-run broadcaster RTS cited him as saying.

As Europe’s youngest nation, Kosovo is seeking its own country code from the International Telecommunications Union. Serbia has blocked this as an existing member of the Geneva-based organization. A solution may be found in “a few years,” Dacic said, according to RTS.

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