Serbs Walk Out of EU-Moderated Talks with Kosovo

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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The Serbian delegation walked out of European Union-mediated talks with Kosovo in Belgium Wednesday due to heightened tension in the region.

EU diplomats say the Serbs were not ready to proceed after talks had been postponed Tuesday following a clash between NATO peacekeepers and ethnic Serbs at a Kosovo-Serbia border crossing. Four peacekeepers and 16 ethnic Serbs were hurt in the clashes.

The European Commission says it will consult with Kosovo and Serbian authorities to establish a new schedule for the talks, and says it expects the talks to resume when Serbia is ready to reengage.

Belgrade must still mend its ties with Kosovo before EU accession talks begin. Serbia hopes to be granted candidate status on the path to EU membership as early as next month. But Serbia regards Kosovo as part of its territory and has refused to recognize its 2008 declaration of independence.

A statement from the United Nations Security Council says it plans to hold consultations of the Serbia-Kosovo situation Wednesday.

Earlier this month, ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo blocked roads to protest a decision to put Kosovo customs officials at the Brnjak and Jarinje border crossings.

Kosovo's government has moved to assert control over the north, which is populated primarily by ethnic Serbs who refuse to recognize the government's authority.