By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
The United States could take a leading role in further negotiations on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina after the eight round of talks in Brussels organized by the European Union had been concluded without results today early in the morning. Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative, who had been mediating the negotiations, asserted that there would be no further meetings in Brussels.
Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, who is the chief negotiator from Belgrade, said that at this moment Serbia could hardly expect to get the date from Brussels for the beginning of EU accession negotiations. Normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is the key EU condition for starting the accession talks with Belgrade. Serbian Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic, who had also been participating in Brussels talks, offered his resignation to Dacic at one point. However, Dacic refused it.
After Brussels talks Dacic explained that differences between Belgrade and Pristina are still persisting, especially when it comes to jurisdictions of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo. The position of Belgrade is that these municipalities should have executive jurisdictions in judiciary and internal affairs. Yet, this is unacceptable for Pristina. “We still have a time to reach an agreement and see where we are after these lengthy talks”, Dacic rendered in Brussels.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that further negotiations are possible if Serbia accepts Pristina’s “principles”.
Catherine Ashton suggested that there still existed chances for reaching a breakthrough in these negotiations. She announced that representatives of Belgrade and Pristina “will consult their colleagues in their respective capitals”. “In the next few days they will inform me about their decisions. I wish them success”, Ashton said.
When it comes to EU, negotiations of Belgrade and Pristina are probably over, and if talks are to continue, they will be under Washington’s auspices, as assumes Predrag Simic, professor from Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences and former Serbian ambassador to France. “Many people are disappointed, since we expected some kind of a deal today. At this moment, I don’t think that negotiations are over, as Catherine Ashton says, because regarding EU, this process has rather formally ended. If negotiations are to be continued, it would be under Washington’s auspices”, Simic said for Serbian national television (RTS).
“Brussles will not reach a deal in negotiations without a directive from Washington”, Slovenian daily Delo stated in its today’s comment.
Yesterday Serbian top officials, including Dacic, Vucic and President Tomislav Nikolic, met in Belgrade to discuss further dialogue with Pristina. According to Marko Djuric, Nikolic’s advisor, they are going to make “tough decisions” in days to come.