Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, has welcomed the breakthrough in Serbia-Kosovo negotiations, stating this afternoon: "I warmly welcome the positive outcome of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue today."
"As we have learned from our own peace process it is at time necessary to take risks for peace. I commend the political courage and consistent efforts shown by both Prime Minister Dačić and Prime Minister Thaçi. I would also like to thank the High Representative for her very active engagement as facilitator of the process.
"With this agreement Serbia and Kosovo have gone a long way to fulfilling the conditions for progress on their respective European paths which the Council set for them back in December.
"I look forward to hearing further details from High Representative Ashton and Commissioner Füle and considering their reports at the General Affairs Council which I will chair in Luxembourg on Monday.
"But I believe this is an important step forward and has the potential, if fully implemented, to close a difficult period in their shared history and to herald a new dawn for all of their citizens.
"I very much hope that this important opportunity to build a new and more prosperous future will not only be welcomed but will be strongly supported in Serbia and in Kosovo and in the broader region and beyond."
The Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD, has also welcomed the outcome of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue today. Speaking as the talks concluded, the Minister said:
“After many hours of difficult talks Serbia and Kosovo have gone a long way to fulfilling the conditions for progress on their respective European paths. It was the Council that set these tasks for them in December and the progress today should be recognised. The Irish Presidency stands ready to work with both parties in the weeks ahead. This will begin when I meet the Minister for European Integration of Kosovo, Vlora Çitaku , in Luxembourg on Monday. I met the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Integration, Suzana Grubješic , in Strasbourg earlier this week.
“I visited Belgrade and Pristina last September. During that trip I saw the real potential for the two sides to come together and I am very glad that we are moving towards the realisation of this potential. The enlargement agenda is very close to my heart. I look forward to visiting the region on behalf of the Irish Presidency in June, ahead of the European Council at the end of that month.
“This is a historic step forward. The difficult recent history in the region means that talks are emotive and often difficult but will mean real progress in terms of lasting peace and stability in the region and for the peoples of both Serbia and Kosovo.”
Note for editors
The Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue began in March 2011 as a series of negotiations aimed at normalising relations between Serbia and Kosovo, following the latter’s unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008. The talks are facilitated by High Representative Catherine Ashton and the European Union (EEAS). The most recent rounds of discussions in the Dialogue have focussed on the north of Kosovo, in particular on an association/community of Serb municipalities, and on how to deliver security and justice structures within a single institutional set up.
The EU has emphasised that to open accession negotiations with Serbia, Belgrade must demonstrate concrete progress in the normalisation of its relations with Kosovo. In turn the EU has made clear that progress will also be a key consideration for commencing negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo. Following today’s breakthrough both elements will now be considered by the General Affairs Council to be chaired by the Tánaiste in Luxembourg on Monday.