Kosovo’s Kurti: No Republika Srpska in the country

Kosovo’s Kurti: No Republika Srpska in the country | INFBusiness.com

One day before the next EU-backed meeting with Serbian President Aleksander Vucic in Brussels to continue the path towards the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he would not accept a Republika Srpska in the country.

The two leaders are set to meet to discuss further steps in the process, which are likely to include the controversial Association of Serb Municipalities, demanded by Serbia and the EU but deemed unconstitutional by Kosovo despite agreeing to it in 2013.

On Tuesday, details of a proposed model for the association are expected to be presented, but Kurti is yet to be convinced.

“Given the insistence of Brussels, I will be happy to see what draft they have prepared. I will ensure that what was already agreed on 27 February in Brussels is fulfilled, the existence of an appropriate level of self-government of the Serbian community according to the highest international European standards for the protection of minorities,” he declared.

According to Kurti, creating a structure that serves as a satellite of Serbia would have a devastating effect on the state of Kosovo but also have consequences in the region.

“What we will not allow is the right to territorialise and create anything that would look like Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will not allow a satellite prefix with a destructive essence that would undermine the citizenship of Kosovo,” said the Prime Minister of Kosovo.

Kurti states that his government’s position is unchangeable and that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo cannot be violated.

The prime minister previously stated that any association must be in line with the constitution and laws in force and that it cannot be mono-ethnic. He stressed it should serve as a horizontal cooperation of municipalities, as per the constitution and should also strengthen the principle of reciprocity between Serbia and Kosovo.

Additionally, before the association is established, any illegal activity in the north, including criminal organisations, must be disbanded and illegal weapons surrendered. The agreement must also be part of the final agreement and would only be implemented after mutual recognition is confirmed.

Lastly, it would require that Serbia withdraw the letters he said they sent to the five EU states that do not recognise Kosovo, asking them not to accept its EU membership application.

The association was agreed upon and signed in 2013 under the previous government, but it has not been implemented along with many other agreements on both sides.

At the same time, Serbia agreed to no longer impede the process of Kosovo’s international recognition and integration, something it has not abided by and the agreement is yet to be ratified in Belgrade.

Minorities in Kosovo enjoy considerable rights under the constitution, including Serbian being an official language, guaranteed seats in parliament regardless of election results, representation at a municipal level, the right to nominate key police officials in Serb majority areas, Serbian language taught and studied in Serb-majority schools instead of Albanian, and at least one minister from the Serb minority in government.

President Vjosa Osmani has also supported the creation of an association as long as it does not have executive powers.

“It is no one’s favour to have the Republic of Srpska in Kosovo,” she was quoted as referencing the Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, leading to significant instability in the country.

“I support any initiative that is not in conflict with the constitution of Kosovo,” she said, adding that “municipalities are already allowed to join multi-ethnic associations without executive powers, such as NGOs,” she said in October 2022.

In January, the EU’s special envoy for negotiations said the international community would be careful not to repeat past mistakes in the region regarding the association.

“I think the international community has made these mistakes in the past in the Balkans, coming up with suggestions that were not tested in other countries. Not all have worked well in the Balkans,” he said.

“Let’s make sure that everything we propose is based on existing models that work well,” Lajcak said without directly referencing Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska – something Pristina says is a failure and fears with the proposed establishment of the association in Kosovo. Lajcak said he reassured Kurti that the details of the association would be “drafted by you and agreed on by you.”

“You won’t write something you don’t agree with. The second point is that there are existing models, functional European models. I have 15 minority protection analyses on my desk in Brussels. Some of these models you may not have heard of. None of them has caused non-functionality where applicable,” Lajcak continued.

Commenting on the upcoming meeting from Belgrade, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated that he believes that Pristina will “continue its evasive policy” on forming the Association of Serbian Municipalities (SMA).

“Pristina will try to minimise the importance of the SMA, starting from its name, statute, leadership team, down to the authority that the community has. As President Aleksandar Vučić has told me, two things will be the main topics; The SMA and the declaration on missing persons,” He said, adding that the outcome is difficult to say but that without the SMA, no other parts of the agreement will be implemented.

“Serbia will be constructive, and president Vučić is ready for the meeting”, he concluded.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al, Bojana Zimonjic | EURACTIV.rs)

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