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 not been implemented along with many other agreements on both sides.
Kurti stated that any association must be in line with the constitution and any 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 withdraws the letters he said they sent to the five EU states that do not recognise Kosovo, asking them to not accept its EU membership application.
Kurti also spoke in an interview with AFP and said that he would resist any attempt at “blackmail” by the West, and all he wants is equality and mutual recognition.
“We cannot be blackmailed. We cannot be afraid. We are brave people, and what we demand is fair treatment, equality and mutual recognition. It is not right to put pressure on the most pro-European, pro-American and democratic country in the Western Balkans. The pressure must be put on Belgrade,” said Kurti.
He added that Serbia is destabilising the Western Balkans and that without mutual recognition, there is no stability for Kosovo.
The association was agreed upon and signed upon 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.
The exact setup of the association is yet to be confirmed, but it is likely to be a parallel structure with its own executive powers. Internationals, including US stakeholders, have said it will go ahead without the prime minister’s permission but also said it would be created in a way that does not violate the constitution.
Meanwhile, in the Serbian parliament, President Aleksander Vucic took part in a special session to debate the EU, and France and Germany backed the proposal for the normalisation of relations.
He said he was only bringing the contentious parts of the plan to parliament and not discussing the acceptable points.
“There are also good things in the plan, I will not talk about them,” he said, adding that he has some “great reservations” about certain points.
During the highly-charged parliamentary session, Vucic said talks to normalise relations must continue in order to pursue EU membership.
“EU membership is of vital interest for us. One cannot function without allies,” Vucic said.
Scuffles then broke out in the chamber between opposition and ruling party deputies, leading security to intervene.
(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)