Kosovo, Serbia Resume Talks on Improving Relations

Posted November 21st, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Serbia and Kosovo have resumed negotiations, after Serbia walked out of European Union-mediated talks in September.

The two sides began talks Monday in Brussels, with both Kosovo and Serbian leaders expressing hope for progress in resolving a long-running customs dispute expected to top the agenda of the two-day meeting.

The dispute at a border crossing in northern Kosovo sparked violence between the region's Serbs and ethnic Albanians earlier this year that killed one police officer and injured at least 16 people, including four NATO peacekeepers. Tensions remain high in the region as authorities try to establish border control while Kosovo's ethnic Serbs fight it. The ethnic Serbs refuse to recognize the government's authority.

Serbia has said it will never recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. But Belgrade says it is determined to resolve other differences through negotiations.

Serbia hopes to become a formal candidate for EU membership, but the European Commission has declined to set a date for accession talks until Serbia does more to normalize relations with Kosovo.