Pristina, Belgrade make progress in dialogue on Kosovo intl phone code

Pristina, Belgrade make progress in dialogue on Kosovo intl phone code Author: Joseph Morris. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

PRISTINA (Kosovo), November 14 (SeeNews) - Serbia and Kosovo, under the EU facilitation, reached an arrangement on further implementation of previously signed telecommunications agreements, which will ensure a three-digit code +383 to Kosovo, the European Commission said.

Under the arrangement, newly established Mts d.o.o., a subsidiary of Serbia's state-owned MTS Telekom Srbija, will operate fully-licenced fixed telephone services in Kosovo, while for mobile telephony it will obtain a temporary authorisation, the Commission said in statement on Sunday.

"The parties agreed on the mobile telephony and frequency bands and spectrums to be allocated to Mts d.o.o in Kosovo, enabling it to continue to provide the current level of coverage to its customers," the Commission said. "The arrangement also enables the transfer of assets to Mts d.o.o without any customs, taxes or charges," it added.

Dual numbering approach will be used in the two-year migration period.

"All draft documents linked to the licences, the transfer and registration of assets will be completed by 28 November," the European Commission said. Then the two parties will review these documents and will decide whether they are in line with the arrangement from 2013 and 2015. If they are,  Serbia will send a letter to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on December 3, saying it agrees an international phone code to be allocated to Kosovo

According to Kosovo's government, the country will be allocated the new phone code by December 15.

The agreement sets a boundary between the frequencies used by Belgrade and Pristina and puts an end to 'the illegal operations' of the three Serbian telecommunications companies on the territory of Kosovo, the government in Pristina said in a separate statement on Sunday.

Serbia, which continues to claim Kosovo is an integral part of its territory, has been delaying the process of granting it a new phone code, saying Kosovo has not implemented all the relevant agreements.

For land line calls to Kosovo from abroad, Serbia's country code, 381, should be dialled.

To reach people in Kosovo on their mobile phones, callers must dial the country code for either Monaco or Slovenia.

According to reports in local media, this costs Kosovo's largest mobile operator, Vala, 9 million euro annually, while the second biggest telecom company, IPKO, pays 1 million euro per year for the service. 

The negotiations over the phone code of the tiny newborn country have lasted for years. In January, Belgrade and Pristina agreed that Kosovo will obtain its own country code, 383, from the ITU for both fixed and mobile operators as of March 1.

Serbia, however, later said Kosovo had not met the necessary conditions.

Kosovo declared independence from Belgrade in 2008.

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