Kosovo has reached a draft agreement to set up a joint committee with Serbia aimed at finding the remaining people who disappeared as a result of the 1998-99 war, one of Pristina’s negotiators said.
Ibrahim Makolli, the representative for missing persons on Pristina’s negotiating team at the ongoing EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia talks in Brussels, said on Monday that a draft agreement on missing persons has been secured that will form part of a final deal to normalise relations.
Makolli told a meeting of the Kosovo government’s committee on missing persons that three main points have been agreed to ensure that the remaining people who disappeared as a result of the 1998-99 war are found.
He said that the points are “the establishment of a joint commission, a mechanism responsible for dealing with the issue of missing persons, and unlimited access to the archives that deal with the issue of missing persons”.
“All this has a time limit and the whole process must finish within 18 months if a final agreement [to normalise relations] is reached,” Makolli added.
The joint commission will be overseen by the EU, he said.
Over 1,600 people, mainly ethnic Albanians but also some Serbs, are still listed as missing from the Kosovo war.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said last month that Serbia and Kosovo had agreed during talks in Brussels on ways to practically cooperate on the issues of missing and internally displaced persons.
Serbia and Kosovo also signed separate agreements with the US last month that committed them, amongst other things, “to expedite efforts to locate and identify the remains of missing persons”.
In July this year, Kosovo and Serbia asked each other to open up classified archives to help reveal the locations of wartime mass graves.
However, Serbia has classified some of its military archives as state secrets, while Kosovo insists that the Kosovo Liberation Army, as a guerrilla organisation, never had military archives at all./Birn