Photo: BIRN

Serbs Stage Mass Resignation from Kosovo State Institutions

Kosovo Serbs resigned from their positions as MPs, mayors, judicial officials and police officers in a coordinated protest against alleged breaches of agreements made between Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels.

Serbs resigned from their positions in state institutions in four Serb-majority northern municipalities of Kosovo on Saturday, claiming that EU-mediated agreements between Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels are being breached.

The resignations came after a meeting in the town of Zvecan organised by Belgrade-backed Serb party Srpska Lista.

Srpska Lista said mayors of Serb-majority municipalities, councillors, MPs, judges, prosecutors, judicial staff and Kosovo Police officers have all quit their jobs.

During Saturday’s meeting in Zvecan, police officials symbolically took off their Kosovo police uniforms, to applause from the participants.

“It is precisely because of our determination to respect international public law and defend the Brussels Agreement that we have decided to leave all political institutions, the [Kosovo] Assembly, the government and four municipalities in the north of Kosovo,” the head of Srpska Lista, Goran Rakic, told media.

He added the decision remains in force until Kosovo “begins to respect the agreements that have been agreed”.

He said that Kosovo must withdraw a decision to make Serb drivers with Kosovo vehicle plates exchange them for Kosovo plates, and finally establish the long-awaited Association of Serbian Municipalities to represent Serbs’ interests in Kosovo.

The move came two days after the regional director of the Kosovo Police for the Serb-majority north of the country, Nenad Djuric, was suspended on suspicion of calling for resistance.

Djuric said on Thursday that police in the north of Kosovo will not implement the government’s decision to distribute reprimands to drivers who have vehicles with licence plates issued by Serbia, which are considered illegal by the Kosovo authorities. A day later, he declared he will not return to the Kosovo police.

The Kosovo government decided last week to postpone the implementation of the decision to make drivers with vehicle licence plates issued by Serbia change them for Kosovo plates from November 1.

There will now be a phased implementation of the change to Kosovo plates which will continue until April 21 next year.

Drivers continuing to use Serbian plates will initially be reprimanded, then fined, then forced to attach probationary plates to their cars.

BIRN contacted the Kosovo government’s spokesperson and Minister of Internal Affairs Xhelal Svecla to request information about how Kosovo institutions will operate after the resignations, but did not received any response by the time of publication.

Blerim Vela, the chief of office for Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, claimed in a post on Twitter that “Serbia is coercing and inciting Kosovo Serbs to abandon their jobs in Kosovo institutions”.

Vela also said that “Serbia unilaterally violated all Brussels agreements on disbandment of its illegal structures in Kosovo”.

He insisted however that Kosovo’s institutions will remain multi-ethnic.

05/11/2022 - 16:35

05 November 2022 - 16:35

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