Serbia, Kosovo Meet for 'Historic' Talks

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BY TRACY PFEIFFER Anchor: Megan Murphy You're watching multisource world news analysis from Newsy A his...
BY TRACY PFEIFFER Anchor: Megan Murphy You're watching multisource world news analysis from Newsy A historic turn in the Balkans -- officials from Serbia and Kosovo met for face-to-face talks for the first time since the Kosovo declared its independence from the United Nations in 2008. “The EU is mediating the negotiations as relations between the two countries remain tense, with Serbia denying Kosovo sovereignty. For that reason, the focus will be more on day-to-day issues like trade and air traffic.” (RT) Analysts argue, these seemingly innocuous issues are direct results of Serbia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence -- and are causing problems on the ground. The Irish Times points out -- Serbia does not allow vehicles registered in Kosovo. Al Jazeera reports, the contested nation cannot get its own telephone country code. And the Financial Times says, Serbia refuses to accept Kosovar customs stamps -- meaning Kosovar manufacturers cannot ship goods through Serbia. The Balkans has a long history of ethnic strife. The eventual disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s fueled the tension, resulting in a deadly conflict between Serbia and Kosovo over the question of Kosovar sovereignty. NATO military forces intervened in the late ‘90s, and Kosovo was put under control of the UN until it declared independence in 2008. (Video: euronews) But despite the historical bad blood, representatives from both Balkan states had nothing but optimism for the media prior to the negotiations. BORKO STEFANOVIC, SERBIAN HEAD NEGOTIATOR: “There will be tough issues and easier ones, but of course we have high hopes and we expect that this dialogue will give fast and rapid implementations of solutions that we will find together in this process.” EDITA TAHIRI, KOSOVO DEPUTY PM: “We are coming with positive spirit and with constructive approach. There is a lot of things on the agenda in terms of practical issues.” (CCTV) So why come to the table now? A writer for the UK’s The Independent says, Serbia is eyeing European Union membership -- something it can only get by mending ties with Kosovo. But the writer also notes, the latter has reasons to cooperate as well. “Unlike Serbia, it is in no position to dream of EU membership. But it is dependent on EU subsidies and with its right to statehood contested around the world, Kosovo needs to maintain the diplomatic goodwill of both Europe and the US, whose military was decisive in securing its independence.” But an article from European Voice argues, it’s not the Balkan states under pressure here -- it’s the EU itself. The writer says, the international body needs to get serious about the talks, rather than sidestepping the big issue. “...any dialogue focused solely on technical issues and with no clear perspective on the north's political future will do little more than affirm and legitimate the Serbia-run parallel structures in the north. Given Pristina's adamant opposition to Belgrade's control of the north, the prospects of a frozen conflict would then only increase.” Currently, Kosovo is considered partially-recognized, with some 75 UN countries recognizing its independence. 'Like' Newsy on Facebook for updates in your news feed Get more multisource video news analysis from Newsy Transcript by Newsy