Kosovo hopeful on deal with Serbia to end ethnic partition

Kosovo’s foreign minister says he anticipates a breakthrough with Serbia when the two countries’ prime ministers meet next week to discuss an end to the ethnic partition of the former Serbian province.

Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s 2008 secession, but is under pressure from the European Union to improve ties and help overcome a split between Kosovo’s Albanian majority and a small Serb enclave in the north.

The two parties failed to reach an agreement on March 21 after lengthy talks between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci that were hosted by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels.

Talks are set to resume on April 2.

‘This is a dialogue about the normalisation of relations between two countries as separate and independent countries,’ Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said in a recent interview in Paris.

‘I think we will have a break through by April 2. We are working on that, but I think the reason why we didn’t have a breakthrough is inBelgradeand not Pristina.’

Ashton has been mediating talks between Dacic and Thaci since late last year, as the EU pushes to establish functional, neighbourly relations between Serbia and Kosovo five years after the former province declared independence with the backing of the West.

(Map of Kosovo & Serbia region)