Belgrade, Serb List issue threats over swearing-in of mayors in north Kosovo

Belgrade, Serb List issue threats over swearing-in of mayors in north Kosovo |

As the deadline to swear in the newly-elected mayors in the north of Kosovo approaches, calls have intensified for the action to take place, despite mounting tensions with Serbia.

Extraordinarily local elections were called in several Serb-majority municipalities in the north of the country after Serb officials resigned en masse in protest over Pristina policies, including the requirement for all Kosovo citizens to have state-issued license plates. This was not welcomed by ethnic Serbs who, despite living in Kosovo, do not recognise its independence from Serbia and continue using Belgrade-issued plates.

An election was held on 23 April, which saw the lowest turnout in Kosovo history due to pressure on Serbs from Belgrade not to vote. The mayors have 30 days to swear in and assume their position.

“Administrative services are in their favour; security is in their favour. Economic projects empower them, so each action is for the benefit of the citizens and not the opposite, and we expect all these procedures to go without any problems and without any tension,” said President Vjosa Osmani shortly after Erden Atiq was sworn in as the Mayor of Mitrovica.

According to the president, holding elections in April this year was a legal and constitutional obligation.

“What pushed this situation was the resignation of the former mayors of the municipalities in the north”, said Osmani, adding that the boycott of the elections by members of the Serbian community was not voluntary but forced by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Atiq’s swearing-in ceremony and that of his deputy, ethnic Serb Katarina Axhancic, took place amid tight security controls. Atiq pledged to work for the benefit of the community without bias or distinction.

“We, with the whole team, will work for all citizens without distinction and discrimination. We will make the biggest commitment to normalize this part of the municipality. I invite all citizens to meet us, visit us and cooperate as best as possible for the benefit of the citizens”, Atiq declared.

Meanwhile, Axhancic said that she thinks it is time to talk about the priorities of the citizens in the north.

“Our citizens deserve to make their lives easier and better. We decided to have a good team, good cooperation with the citizens and together, we will do everything that can be done”, said Axhancic.

North Kosovo elections trigger harsh words, criticisms from Belgrade

On Thursday, Vucic said he would not accept the swearing-in of any mayors in the north. According to signed agreements with Kosovo, backed by the EU, Serbia is not allowed to interfere in Kosovo elections, and there is no legal basis for Serbia to accept, or not accept the results.

“They will try to hold constitutive sessions in the building north of Mitrovica, for three municipalities, and elect fake mayors, with the support of QUINT, elected in fake elections”, Vucic told reporters in Novi Sad.

“Official Belgrade does not recognize the results of these elections and has considered them undemocratic and illegal,” he added.

The Serb List Vice President Igor Simić declared that with the swearing-in of the new mayor of North Mitrovica from Vetëvendosje, “the occupation of the north has officially begun and will end when Serbs decide”.

Simić gave Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti until 1 June “to stop the repression, expropriation, arrest, persecution and attacks on Serbs”.

He added that if this continues, “the Serb population will protect itself by all means” without explaining what such means would be.

Kurti: Low turnout in north Kosovo vote due to Belgrade blackmail

(Alice Taylor |

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