Serbia clears way to attend meetings with Kosovo
(BELGRADE) - Serbia's government said Sunday it has adopted a measure that would allow its officials to attend regional meetings in which Kosovo is represented, paving the way for an end to a bitter spat on the issue.
"The instruction was adopted with an aim to diminish damage caused by the absence of the (Serbian) state officials from regional meetings," the government said in a statement.
Serbia does not recognise the 2008 unilateral proclamation of Kosovo's independence, backed by some 90 nations including the US and most EU members, and has blocked Pristina's participation at regional meetings.
But an EU-sponsored deal in March allowed Kosovo to "to participate and sign new agreements on its own account and to speak for itself at all regional meetings".
Under the deal, an asterisk should be added to Kosovo's name, with a footnote reading: "This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UN Security Council resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice's opinion" on Kosovo 2008 declaration of independence.
But Belgrade has so far insisted that the full text of the footnote be displayed on Kosovo's name plate, while Pristina wanted it to read just Kosovo*.
In a statement Sunday, Belgrade conceded that the "footnote is not obliged to be on the (Kosovo) plate" but only to be quoted "at least at the first mention (of Kosovo) in all documents" issued at the meetings.
Due to "its absence from regional meetings dedicated to cooperation, Serbia has suffered both direct and indirect economic damages," the government noted, adding however that its officials would leave meetings in which Kosovo is represented in any other manner.
Improving relations with Pristina is a key condition for Serbia to secure a date for opening accession talks with Brussels.
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