Trepca mine. | Photo: BIRN.

Kosovo politicians and EU clash over the future of Trepca

Kosovo politicians criticized EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic on Tuesday following her proposal to include the ownership of the Trepca mine in the North of Kosovo in the EU-mediated dialogue.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj condemned EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic, who stated to Serbian media that controversies surrounding the ownership of the Trepca mine could be raised as part of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

The response from the EU came following a vote at the Kosovo Assembly approving a law on Trepca’s nationalization on Saturday, which declares the state of Kosovo as the owner of 75 per cent of the metallurgic enterprise.

Kocijancic proposed that “all open issues” between Kosovo and Serbia should be resolved through the comprehensive EU-mediated dialogue between the two countries.

“The EU aims to resolve all open issues between the two through a legally binding agreement that would fully normalize the relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” said Kocijancic to Serbian news agency, Tanjug, who asked for the EU’s comment on the consequences of the Assembly’s decision to adopt the law.

Although the Trepca mine, which is located in the northeast of Kosovo around 10 kilometers from Mitrovica, has continued running since the breakup of Yugoslavia, its ownership has been repeatedly contested.

According to Haradinaj, Kocijancic’s statement was “unprecedented, unacceptable and as such breaches Kosovo’s sovereignty.”

The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that the EU spokesperson’s proposal was proof that the EU had “lost its way.”

“Trepca is not an open issue between Kosovo and Serbia and the people of Kosovo and its institutions will not allow false topics to be created that clearly aim for the separation of Kosovo,” Haradinaj continued.

In 2015 the Kosovo Government passed a law securing the transfer of Trepca’s ownership to the government, but the law was deemed unconstitutional by the Special Chamber of the Kosovo Supreme Court in early 2016.

Isa Mustafa, the leader of Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, and former prime minister of Kosovo from 2015 to 2017, said he was “surprised” by Kocijancic’s claim.

“Kosovo, at no phase, has accepted to discuss Trepca with Serbia, or any other natural wealth in its territory,” he said.

Mustafa was involved in the Brussels dialogue when he headed the Kosovo Government from 2014 to 2017, and was the prime minister during the Kosovo Government’s first attempt to nationalize the Trepca mine in 2015.

Mustafa requested all politicians in Kosovo to take a unified position on the issue.

The former head of the Kosovo delegation to the Brussels-facilitated dialogue, Edita Tahiri, who led Kosovo’s dialogue team from 2011 to 2017, strongly condemned Kocijancic’s proposal.

Tahiri stated for BIRN that EU chief of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has lost the credibility required to be a unbiased facilitator of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

“This is not an EU position, but only that of some officials which are taking the wrong side,” Tahiri said.

In November 2018, the Kosovo Government imposed a 100 per cent  increase of customs tax on goods entering Kosovo from Serbia, with government officials citing the “negative behavior” of Serbia towards Kosovo’s statehood as justification for its imposition.

Since then, the dialogue has been at a deadlock, with the Serbian Government conditioning the continuance of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia with the withdrawal of the tax, which is still in force three months later.

In January the Kosovo Government formed its new negotiation team for the dialogue, made up of members of the ruling coalition, opposition party of Social Democrats, PSD.At the beginning of January, the team met with Mogherini in Brussels, but are yet to engage in the dialogue directly with Serbian counterparts.

05/02/2019 - 16:55

05 February 2019 - 16:55

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