US and EU envoys again tell Kosovo to implement the 2015 agreement for the Association of Serb-majority municipalities, in the context of the dialogue with Serbia.
The US representative for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, and the EU envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, on the third day of their visit to Kosovo, said the stalled 2015 agreement on an Association of Serb-majority municipalities should be implemented, as well as all other agreements reached between the two countries.
They asked both Kosovo and Serbia to be constructive and present their own models on how to implement the Association Agreement.
At a press conference, Lajcak said that all agreements should be implemented. “Kosovo is an equal party in the dialogue, which means that nothing can be imposed on Kosovo without an agreement. Nobody wants a Republika Srpska, but what has been agreed must be implemented, the Association is one of them,” he said.
He was referencing the semi-independent Serb entity in Bosnia, which now demands independence from Bosnia.
Lajcak added that the status of Kosovo, which Serbia does not recognise as an independent state, would not be discussed in the dialogue.
Meanwhile, the US representative, Escobar, sought constructiveness from Kosovo and Serbia, adding that the US was united with the EU on the dialogue process.
“We believe that all agreements reached should be implemented, we have not come here with any description or proposal of what we want to implement, we are asking both parties to be constructive, to show us their vision of how it seems the Association and to continue from there,” he said.
Escobar added that the US under President Joe Biden respects the independence and territorial integrity of Kosovo.
In response, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, on Wednesday said that Kosovo was not afraid but was cautious when pressed by the international community to implement the agreement on the Association of Serb-majority municipalities.
Kurti maintained that “minority rights in Kosovo are respected to the highest level of European standards” already.
“Kosovo is not afraid, but with a responsible government, Kosovo is careful. We serve the citizens of the republic and protect the interests of our country. The interest of the independent state of Kosovo, of our democratic and sovereign republic, is territorial integrity, state functionality, constitutionality and legality,” he said.
During their two days in Kosovo, Lajcak and Escobar held meetings with state leaders and opposition parties. They will also visit Serbia.
The formation of an Association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo is one of the most controversial agreements in the EU-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
It was agreed to by both parties in the process, but has never been implemented, after the Kosovo Constitutional Court expressed reservations over some points.
Detailing the competencies given to the association’s 10 Serb-majority municipalities, it was said that they would have full “supervision” of the areas of rural and urban planning, economic development, education and health.
It also stated that the Association would include the four northern municipalities de facto not controlled by the Kosovo government, as well as Gracanica, Strpce, Novo Brdo, Kllokot, Ranilug and Partesh. Gracanica would act as the regional centre for the southern municipalities.
The EU-led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia started in 2011, and has continued with different intensities, but the parties are not close to a final agreement, with Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence not even on the horizon.
In December 2015, BIRN and Internews Kosova published the “Big Deal” report, which analyzed and monitored implementation of agreements between Kosovo and Serbia arising from the dialogue process in Brussels.
02 February 2022 - 17:13