On July 4th, members of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority established their own assembly, as a protest against the steps taken by Belgrade which they see as recognition of the government in Pristina. The provisional assembly has not been recognized by Belgrade. Mayor of the Serb municipality Lepasovic, Slavko Stevanovic, has been elected President of the assembly.
EU brokered deal
The move challenges the April 19th EU brokered deal which would further normalize the relations between Belgrade and Pristina. As a result of the deal Belgrade would start EU accession negotiations at the latest in January 2014, and the 40,000 ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo would be granted some level of autonomy. Until than the EU, however, will examine to which extent the deal has been implemented, which is of crucial importance (especially for Germany) for the start of accession negotiations.
Under the terms of the agreement, an Association of Serbian Municipalities with broad powers will be set up, including the four Serb-run northern municipalities of North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.
‘Serbs will not implement Brussels agreement’
The deal has been opposed by nationalists from both Serbia as well as Kosovo. However both parliaments have approved the agreement and its implementation. While ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo oppose the implementation of Kosovo’s constitutional and legal system, ethnic Albanians oppose the agreement because ‘Albanians in the Serb-run north of the country stand to lose their rights,’ Albin Kurti, leader of the Kosovo opposition nationalist movement Vetevendosje (self-determination) said.
Ljubomir Radovic, assistant to the Zvečan mayor, said at the meeting that the Serbs will not implement the Brussels agreement: ‘"We will not accept a constitution and a legal system of some other, unrecognized, and unlawfully created state," he said, adding that Serbs know their way, "and will not go to Pristina. Our capital is Belgrade, our republic is Serbia, we do not want another country, another citizenship or legal system."
In Pristina meanwhile, there has been large opposition against a draft law, which would include granting amnesty on a wide range of criminal offences. The controversial amnesty legislation was also born out of the Kosovo-Serbia deal, but failed to win Parliament’s approval.
Much resistance came from article 3 in the legislation, which would provide a 20% reduction in the punishment of crimes including murder, manslaughter and harassment. Most political parties say they will only agree with the proposed amendment if the criticized article three would be removed or changed.
Kosovo nationalist opposition movement Vetevendosje (self-determination), opposed ratification of the agreement, claiming that the agreement had no international character. Kurti said: ‘The ratification of the agreement in our parliament is an illogical and unilateral act because it has not been ratified in Serbia,’ he said. ‘The agreement has also started being implemented before it was ratified, which is an even graver violation.’
The Serbian Minister of Justice Nikola Selakovic stated on July 5th that the implementation of the deal will be delayed, because the amnesty legislation failed to win Parliament’s approval in Pristina.