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373 words - April 22, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
"It has been a long process, but ultimately successful. It has sometimes been difficult, but all leaders concerned have risen above the difficulties," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared after the announcement that Belgrade and Pristina reached an agreement on normalization of their relations. The KFOR will continue to contribute to the building of a safer environment throughout Kosovo, Mr. Rasmussen said.
From United Nations' headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban Ki-moon "welcomed the landmark agreement" between Serbia and Kosovo. He also congratulated the European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton for "her strong efforts and her successful personal role in helping to bring about this agreement," along with Prime Ministers Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci. To sum up, Kosovo insisted that it obtains the right to be represented in regional and international organizations, and Serbia demanded that only Serbian police forces could operate in north Kosovo and that a prior NATO approval would be needed for any Kosovo Security Forces' approach to the area.
On April 17, Ms. Ashton said "with real confidence (…) that the differences (were) narrow and very shallow," as the delegations were taking the final steps necessary to finish the agreement. Such a confidence emerged 10 days before when Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic announced that "there would be a unanimous position on Kosovo," and acknowledged that Serbia's "stands" about the format used in the negotiations and the refusal of any negotiation over Kosovo-Metohija's independence "were met with full understanding."
According to the normalization agreement, the two sides committed to "settle major pending issues" with "respect for international law and with the aim of achieving sustainable, mutually acceptable solutions," Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos explained. By fostering greater stability in the Balkans, the agreement could pave the way for a common European Union future for both Serbia and Kosovo in the long term, DiploNews analysts said.
"Concrete results in the implementation are critical, there are no shortcuts," the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy warned. "The necessary criteria, that will allow the European Union to launch accession negotiations with Serbia and negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo, must be fulfilled," he added.
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