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News 06 Jun 13

Kosovo Demands 'Reciprocal Rights' for Serbian Albanians

As Pristina and Belgrade mull the EU-brokered deal of April 19, Kosovo's parliament backs reciprocal rights for ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia.

Edona Peci

The Kosovo parliament has approved a resolution demanding more rights for the ethnic Albanians who form local majorities in parts of the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia.

It demands “full reciprocity” for ethnic Albanians in Serbia for the rights that ethnic Serbs have obtained under an EU-led deal in northern Kosovo. MPs approved the resolution by 74 votes in favour and four against.

It calls for regional offices for displaced Albanians from southern Serbia to be set up in Pristina and Gjilan.

It also aims to improve the freedom of movement, educational rights and access to official documents for Albanians living in southern Serbia as well as the suspension of what it calls “discriminatory taxes”.

Similarly to what was agreed between Pristina and Belgrade on the establishment of a financial Fund for northern Kosovo, the resolution foresees a similar fund being set up for Albanians of the Presevo Valley.

The resolution was proposed by the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo on the eve of a vote on implementation of the EU-brokered deal between Pristina and Belgarde and its action plan.

Kosovo and Serbia last month adopted a 15-point draft agreement on normalising relations, mainly concerning the rights of Serbs in northern Kosovo.

Under the agreement, an Association of Serbian Municipalities with broad powers will include the four mainly Serbian northern municipalities of North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.

Since the end of the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, northern Kosovo has been beyond the Pristina government’s control, while Serbia has continued to finance local security, judicial, health and educational institutions.

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