EU Mediates First Round of Talks Between Serbia, Kosovo PMs

Posted October 19th, 2012 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has met with the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo in the first official talks between the two leaders aimed at easing tensions in the Balkans.

The EU-brokered talks in Brussels Friday followed separate meetings between Ashton and Prime Ministers Ivica Dacic of Serbia and Hashim Thaci of Kosovo.

Ashton said the meeting was “good and constructive,” the aim being “to improve the lives of people and…in so doing, bring Serbia and Kosovo closer to the European Union.” The EU official said they will meet again soon.

Serbian Prime Minister Dacic told reporters after the meeting Belgrade is ready for talks and is willing to discuss all issues.

The European Commission — the executive arm of the EU — made clear to both sides earlier this month that they must show “visible and sustainable” improvement in their relations in order to continue on a path toward EU membership.

Kosovo, which is largely composed of ethnic Albanians, declared independence in 2008, but Serbia refuses to recognize it as a separate country.

Talks between Belgrade and Pristina were disrupted last year after tensions on Kosovo's border with Serbia. Both Kosovo and Serbia want to enter the European Union — but Serbia's chances are marred by a lack of progress in its relationship with Kosovo, and five EU members have yet to recognize Kosovo.