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News 02 May 16

Kosovo Eyes Late Census for Northern Municipalities

Kosovo leaders are thinking of allowing an extraordinary census in Serb-dominated municipalities to prevent a repeat of 2011’s boycott.

Perparim Isufi
BIRN
Pristina
Scenes from a market in Serb-dominated northern Mitrovica. Photo: Adam Jones Wikimedia Commons

The government of Kosovo is entertaining the possibility of allowing Kosovo Serb citizens living in northern municipalities to undergo an unusual census following the boycott of the regular process five years ago.

Kosovo labour and social welfare minister Arban Abrashi told BIRN that a draft law will be submitted to the Kosovo Assembly which would ensure the completion of the census in Serb-dominated municipalities.

“The Census must provide reliable data on the geographical distribution of the population in municipalities, their demographic structure and other socio-economic factors,” Abrashi said.

The EU statistics agency, Eurostat, confirmed that it expects to be involved in this operation.

Eurostat’s Baiba Grandovska told BIRN: “We expect to be asked to provide international monitoring and some technical support. We cannot yet say when the census will take place, as it depends on the plans of Kosovo.”

The 2011 census showed that among Kosovo’s 1.8 million citizens 91 per cent are Albanians, 3.4 per cent are Serbs and the remainder belong to other communities, including Turks, Bosniaks, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians.

Abrashi told BIRN that the upcoming census includes only four Serb-dominated municipalities in northern Kosovo: Mitrovica North, Zubin Potok, Zvecane and Leposavic. This decision has left Vladeta Kostic, the mayor of the central Kosovo municipality of Gracanica, unsatisfied.

Kostic’s adviser, Fatmir Sheholli, told BIRN that the mayor sent a letter to the government, Eurostat, the Association of Kosovo Municipalities and the international community in an effort to have his municipality included in the census

Early in April, Kostic told BIRN that the 2011 census boycott, which was inspired by Serbia’s government, has caused troubles for his small municipality as the Kosovo government allocates the budget according to the number of residents counted on the census.

Kostic hinted that Gracanica is home to far more residents than the registered ones.

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