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News 26 Aug 13

Kosovo Ballot Paper Row Hits Deadlock

Ahead of the upcoming Pristina-Belgrade meeting in Brussels, disagreements persist over the logo to be printed on the ballots for the November local elections in Kosovo.

Edona Peci

The dispute over the planned use of Kosovo’s state logo on the ballot papers for the November 3 polls has run into a stalemate, although Pristina insists that the issue will not be on the agenda at the meeting between Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic on Tuesday.

“This issue will not be discussed in Brussels and it is not in the mandate of the Kosovo government to decide on this,” Thaci said, calling on Kosovo’s central election commission to settle the problem.

“This issue is set in the constitution and Kosovo’s laws,” he stressed.

But officials in Belgrade insisted that the ballot papers should be ‘status neutral’ to reflect Serbia’s insistence that Kosovo is not an independent state.

Marko Duric, an advisor to the Serbian president, said that "the symbols of the false state of Kosovo" must be removed from the ballots.

"The issue of insignia and false symbols cannot be used for bartering in the negotiations, because status neutrality is a prerequisite for the election,” Duric told news agency Tanjug.

The OSCE, which is involved in helping to organise the polls, called for "a mutually agreed solution" to the dispute.

Pristina hopes that the local elections will help to integrate the northern, Serb-run part of Kosovo into its institutions.

The polls are part of the EU-brokered deal for the normalisation of relations that Kosovo and Serbia struck in April.

The last local elections in Kosovo were held in November 2009, but the vote was boycotted in the northern Serb-run municipalities, where local leaders were elected in a separate vote organised by Belgrade.

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