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Belgrade and Pristina talk over northern Kosovo

Belgrade and Pristina talk over northern Kosovo
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The Kosovan prime minister and his Serbian counterpart are in Brussels for talks which the EU hopes will end in a definitive deal over the fractious north of Kosovo.

It is the eighth session of talks between Hashim Thaci and Ivica Dacic.

Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanians declared independence from Serbia in 2008, something Serbia said it will never recognise.

But in the north it is the ethnic Serbs in the majority, and the river in Mitrovica divides the city into two ethnic groups.

There is still strong animosity towards the breakaway government from Kosovan Serbs like Tomislav Kostic.

“Let’s see how the talks play out,” he said, “but there is no way we will go with the Pristina authorities. Only with the state of Serbia, and that’s it.”

It is possible that a deal could include some form of self rule for the ethnic Serbs living in the north of Kosovo in exchange for Belgrade’s recognition that Pristina has overall authority in the enclave.

Adem Mripa, an ethnic Albanian living in Mitrovica said: “If the Serbs want autonomy here, they should recognise the Albanians in the south and give it to the Hungarian and Bosnian minorities too.”

A deal to end the effective partition of Mitrovica would grease the wheels of EU membership talks for Serbia. Belgrade’s firm stance against an independent Kosovo has long been an obstacle.