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UN Urges Serbia-Kosovo Talks

  • Larry Freund

Top United Nations official in Kosovo Farid Zarif speaks to AP in front of the UN Headquarters in Kosovo Polje, Kosovo, March 23, 2012.

Top United Nations official in Kosovo Farid Zarif speaks to AP in front of the UN Headquarters in Kosovo Polje, Kosovo, March 23, 2012.

NEW YORK — The top United Nations diplomat for Kosovo, Farid Zarif, called on the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to press Serbia and Kosovo to take a bold approach to their talks. The prime ministers of both countries said they are ready to resume negotiations, which have been suspended.

Warning against complacency during a period of relative stability in Kosovo, Zarif told the Security Council that a more active and deliberate political international engagement with Serbia and Kosovo is needed very soon.

“I wish to appeal once again to the members of this august council to positively apply their authority and influence in order to assist and encourage the parties toward a more creative, bold and forward-looking approach to negotiations, based on mutual compromise and respect,” said Zarif.

Kosovo, which is largely composed of ethnic Albanians, broke away from Serbia, declaring its independence in 2008. Kosovo and Serbia have held talks sponsored by the European Union and have reached a number of agreements but only some of them have been implemented. U.N. envoy Zarif called for a full faith commitment to the dialogue, including what he termed "expeditious implementation" of the agreements.

Serbia’s prime minister, Ivica Dacic, in remarks to the Security Council, repeated his earlier statements that Serbia will never recognize what he described as the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian authorities. But he said Serbia is prepared to continue talks with Kosovo, which were put on hold while Serbia held parliamentary elections.

“While the technical dialogue should continue, it is not a panacea," said Dacic. "Serbia is ready for high-level talks. Negotiations on all outstanding issues cannot be avoided.”

The Serbian prime minister said his government is ready to engage in good faith at all levels in order to achieve a mutually-acceptable, comprehensive solution on the final status of Kosovo.

The prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, said his government is against any change in its border with Serbia, but is ready to find the best solution on how to integrate Kosovo’s Serbian community with the rest of the country. Mr. Thaci spoke through an interpreter.

“Normalization of relations with Serbia is our priority," said Thaci. "We are aware that the lack of normal relations and border demarcation between Kosovo and Serbia is a major impediment to stability, security and prosperity throughout the Balkans.”

Kosovo’s prime minister said that although he is dedicated to dialogue with Serbia at any moment, Kosovo’s territorial integrity will never be put into question.

Speaking for the United States, Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said Washington hopes to see a resumption of the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue now that a new government is in place in Belgrade.

“This includes implementing agreements previously reached, including in integrated borders management," said DiCarlo. "We welcome the commitments today of both prime ministers to pursue constructive engagement through this mechanism.”

The U.N. Security Council adjourned its meeting on Kosovo without taking any immediate action.