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Pristina-Belgrade agreement implementation in limbo, analysts say

By   /   May 5, 2013  /   No Comments


Kosovo Serbs wave flags during a protest against the accord on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica on April 22nd. [AFP]

The realities of impementing the agreement reached between Belgrade and Pristina officials last month brings new challenges to the Serb-dominated northern Kosovo region, analysts said.

Serbs in Kosovo said earlier this month that they planned to call a referendum on the agreement, but Pristina officials said Serbia cannot organise a vote on Kosovo territory.

“The form and the manner of organisation, the issues dealt with in a referendum and calling for a referendum, are determined by the constitution and laws of the Republic of Kosovo. No other country can organise a referendum [in] Kosovo, ” Arber Vllahiu, spokesperson for Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, told SETimes.

Officials said that the April 19th agreement defines the rights of the Serb community in Kosovo and the European path of both countries.

“The agreement offers the Serb community in the northern part of Kosovo rights guaranteed by the constitution and allows them a better life and equality with all the citizens of Kosovo,” Vllahiu said.

Serbian officials agree.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said that the agreement with Pristina has to be implemented, and that no one has the right to “keep dragging Serbia into another disaster.”

“This agreement has to be implemented, the only question is whether we shall do it together, which would be much better,” Dacic told Kosovo Serbs.

While Belgrade has all mechanisms in place to implement this agreement, it does not want to apply them.

“The mechanism is simple: you discontinue payments, close workplaces and you have solved the problem of the so-called parallel institutions,” Dacic said.

Belgrade officials will negotiate with the Serbs from the northern Kosovo this week on how to avoid these measures. However, according to analysts, opposition to the agreement may be hard to overcome.

“The Serb citizens are aware that within this agreement there are elements of the recognition of Kosovo, because it is a bilateral agreement and [it] would oblige the citizens to stay loyal to the constitution,” Luz Balaj, Kosovo lawyer of the Institute for Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, told SETimes.

Ardian Arifaj, a Kosovo senior researcher of KIPRED, pointed out that Belgrade’s role in northern Kosovo is quite significant. “Belgrade remains the key for the developments in the north of Kosovo. Nothing happens in the north without the knowledge and the hand of Belgrade,” he told SETimes.

However, he said, there are no other options.

“The agreement is an international project and the sides have no other solution, except to implement it,” Arifaj said.

Despite this, northern Kosovo Serbs will be hard to convince.

Milan Ivanovic, president of the Serbian National Council of the northern Kosovo and Metohija, said that the Brussels agreement endangers the vital interests of Serbs, and that the plan for its implementation was even worse, as it “destroys everything, and as it is obvious that the intentions behind it are not good.”

Kosovo opposition party Vetevendosje of Albin Kurti, was critical of the agreement as well.

“The institutional integration is the integration of the Serb representatives, not of the Serbs. Therefore, the limited integration on the institutional integration is fragile. Integration is an issue of equality, not an issue of tolerance,” Kurti said.

How can the agreement between Pristina and Belgrade be implemented in a way that is acceptable to Kosovo Serbs? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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