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Tensions in the north, Vucic comes out with the last request
Written by SOT.COM.AL 9 Qershor 2023
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vu?i?, called on Kosovo not to organize new elections for mayors of municipalities in the north of the country, until greater autonomy is achieved for the ethnic Serbs, who make up the local majority and who boycotted the previous elections.
"All Serbs in the north think of Serbia as their country, not Kosovo. This is the reality", Vucic said in an interview for Reuters on June 9.
He said that "someone should take the situation under control and organize (new) elections there".
Last week, violence erupted in northern Kosovo after ethnic Albanian mayors moved into municipal facilities in the majority-Serb municipality following local elections held in April, in which turnout was just 3.5 per cent. cent.
In response to the unrest, in which Serbian protesters clashed with NATO peacekeepers, leaving dozens injured on both sides, Serbia put its armed forces on the highest combat alert. Meanwhile, NATO sent reinforcements to its mission in Kosovo.
The European Union and the United States of America have called on Pristina to organize new elections in the Serbian-majority region, in order to calm tensions, while Serbia abandons combat readiness and withdraws troops from the border with Kosovo.
However, Vucic said that the authorities in Kosovo will have to make some concessions to ensure the participation of Serbs in the new elections.
"We still do not have an association of Serbian municipalities, there is still no withdrawal of special police forces (Kosovo Albanians) and mayors of municipalities", said Vu?i?.
The agreement, now 10 years old, brokered by the European Union, provided that the Serbs in the north would establish the Association of Self-Governing Municipalities, in exchange for recognizing the institutions of Kosovo, but the agreement was never implemented, Reuters recalls.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said that the area with a Serbian majority, if it were to be given greater autonomy within the Association of Municipalities, would be able to organize a referendum on the union with Serbia.
"Serbs (in the north) are always ready to talk, but you have to offer them something," said Vucic.
The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, at the beginning of this month, said that the country can hold new elections in the municipalities in question, if 20 percent of the voters sign a petition, through which the elections are requested.
She also accused Serbia of interference.
Vucic stated that "what these people are saying is terrifying" and accused Kurti of not being ready for compromise.
"I am sure that (Kurti) will not invest a minute of his time or a drop of sweat to find a compromise solution," said Vucic.
He also added that Serbia is considering whether to reduce its combat readiness.
"We will keep our troops on high alert and not on the highest combat alert, because that costs a lot," he said.
Vucic regarding the proposals for the Association
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an interview with Reuters, on June 9, that no one except the Serbian community has the right to make a proposal for the Association of Serb-majority municipalities.
Vucic mentioned that the proposals for the formation of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority were presented by the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, as well as some non-governmental organizations.
"None of them has the right to have any proposals. The proposal is given by the Serbs and the Management Team composed of Serbs", said Vu?i?.
The Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, announced in a press conference that on June 7 he forwarded to the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz the draft for the formation of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority in Kosovo.
The spokesperson of the European Union (EU), Peter Stano, said on June 9 that any constructive contribution to the dialogue, in which the Association is discussed, is welcome, but that the dialogue is the only platform where the discussion on the implementation of this agreement should take place .
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, has earlier proposed his draft, based on the example of the position of the Serbs in Croatia.
The establishment of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority in Kosovo is one of the obligations of Kosovo that the EU and the United States of America insist on the most, and the agreement on its formation was reached in 2013, as part of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.
In the interview with Reuters, Vucic also said that Serbia is negotiating the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France and the further strengthening of its military with Western weapons.
He said that Serbia remains on the path to EU membership and that it has managed to balance its foreign policy, to enable the continuation of friendly relations with its historical allies Russia and China.