March 5. 2024. 9:46

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Kurti: Why doesn’t Serbia create structures for its own ethnic minorities


In response to ongoing pressure to create the Association of Serb Municipalities in the country, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has questioned why a similar structure is not created in Serbia, where minority leaders head 11 municipalities.

Serbia is home to 21 official ethnic minorities, including Croats, Bosniaks, Roma, and Albanians, and 11 municipalities have non-ethnic Serb mayors.

“Eleven municipalities in Serbia are led by non-Serb mayors. Hungarians, Bosnians, Albanians and Bulgarians could form uni-ethnic associations of municipalities. Why does Serbia not enable them to do this while it demands such a thing in Kosovo?” Kurti wrote on Facebook.

In 2020, Exit- EURACTIV’s media partner- became the first media to publicise the issue of ‘mass passivisation’ when it published research by Flora Ferati-Sachsenmaier, who has extensively researched the issue. Over the years, over 6,000 Albanians have been removed from voter lists illegally and cannot vote, send their children to school, work, or buy property.

The Helsinki Committee referred to it as “administrative ethnic cleansing.”

The European Commission is aware of the reports of removing ethnic Albanians from the voter registration lists in the Presevo Valley in Serbia and is monitoring the situation in light of Belgrade’s commitments to the EU accession process.

“We are monitoring the situation in light of the commitments taken in the framework of the accession negotiations, particularly those related to the rights of persons belonging to national minorities,” a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV in 2022, just before the Serbian elections.

“Serbia is required, within chapter 23 ‘, Judiciary and Fundamental Rights’, to implement its legal framework and dedicated action plan on minorities,” the Commission added.

Meanwhile, pressure has been piling on Pristina to implement a 2013 agreement signed by the previous government to create a structure for ethnic Serbs in the country. While the actual structure is not yet decided on, it would have executive powers and be mono-ethnic, something the Kosovo Constitutional Court ruled against.

Kosovo PM lays down acceptable conditions for Serb association

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed the parliamentary assembly on Thursday and stated the conditions under which the Association of Serb Municipalities would be acceptable.

The association was agreed and signed upon in 2013 under the previous government, but it has …

Kurti recently laid down a number of conditions under which the association could be created, including it not being mono-ethnic and it only being created after mutual recognition from Serbia is confirmed.

It would also require that Serbia withdraws 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. Under the same 2013 agreement, Serbia signed to say that it would not continue its derecognition efforts against Kosovo, something that has also not been implemented.

On Thursday, the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said he would soon invite Kurti and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic for a meeting in Brussels to discuss the EU plan, backed by France and Germany, to normalise relations.

Agreements regarding Kosovo must be implemented, says US Ambassador to Serbia

Agreements regarding Kosovo, including on the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities, must be implemented, said US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill said on Wednesday, adding that the US wants to be a part of the implementation process.

The US wants …

“The proposal is on the table. I will call both leaders to come to Brussels, will do so soon, in two weeks, to definitely push this proposal. I will ask the leaders for a strong support to avoid any kind of escalation, and I will ask them to work seriously on this proposal, which is the only way to resolve the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. We have gone from crisis to crisis, now is the time for extension and to work constructively”, said Borrell.

Earlier this week, Kurti said he accepts the plan as it is a “good basis for further discussions” and a “solid platform to move forward”.

He told parliament on Thursday that the plan is not a final agreement but rather a preliminary and “basic” one.

“We must understand one thing, it is not possible for European emissaries to come from Brussels, Paris and Berlin and bring us the final agreement. Because this requires a very deep and long negotiation process. The European emissaries did not bring us a document in the style of acceptance or permission, so they could not bring us the proposal for the final agreement. They brought the proposal for a basic agreement”, said Kurti.

He added that the only way to move forward is with recognition from Serbia which is not fully provided for in the text.

“Secondly, today, we have mutual ignorance with Serbia. What we need is mutual recognition. There can be no final agreement without mutual recognition. If we could say something about the proposition that has been offered to us, the paragraphs that are taken are paragraphs that refer to recognition. It’s not even just two pages, it’s a very general and short text,” Kurti said.

The exact provisions of the plan in their most recent form are not public.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)