European Union-brokered dialogue between the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo resulted, after a 10th round of negotiations, in the initialing of a 15-point agreement on April 29 2013.
Dialogue had broken down earlier in the week but leaders from Belgrade and Pristina returned to the talks after appeals from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Among the final two sticking points in the dialogue had been a clause of not obstructing membership of international organisations.
Since the February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, Serbia continually has sought to bar recognitions of Kosovo and Pristina’s moves to recruit sufficient support to bid for United Nations membership as a country.
Ashton, in messages on Twitter on April 19, said “negotiations over, text initialed, important step for Serbia and Kosovo”.
Progress in relations with Kosovo is widely seen as crucial to Serbia’s aspirations to being given a date for the start of negotiations on accession to the EU.
Ashton said, in a separate tweet referring to the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo, “I want to congratulate them for their determination over these months and for the courage that they have shown”.
Reports said that there had been agreement on all 15 points, including an amended version of item 14, the one about issues related to membership of international organisations.
Key provisions in the agreement relate to northern Kosovo, the enclave where ethnic Serbs are in the majority. An Association of Serb Municipalities will get important powers over the four municipalities where Serbs are in the majority, ethnic Serbs will decide on appointments of police commanders in the area while, at the same time, the staffing of the local police in the area will reflect the ethnic demographics of the region.
Ashton is due to report to EU leaders on April 22 on the outcome of the Serbia – Kosovo dialogue.