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News 19 Jun 13

Kosovo Nationalists Symbolically Torch Serbia Deal

As Kosovo parliamentarians prepare to vote on the EU-brokered deal between Pristina and Belgrade, the opposition Vetevendosje [Self-Determination] movement set alight copies of the agreement.

Edona Peci

Activists and supporters of the nationalist party burned letters reading “Marreveshja me Serbine” ("Agreement with Serbia") in more than 20 towns and cities throughout Kosovo, showing their opposition to plans to ratify the deal in parliament this week.

Ahead of the vote by MPs, and a meeting of the Kosovo Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, Self-Determination supporters called a mass protest on Thursday.

Party leader Albin Kurti told journalists that if the deal was voted through, Albanians in the Serb-run north of the country stand to lose their rights.

“If this agreement and its action plan are voted in by lawmakers, no Albanian in the north of Kosovo will be able to be a judge, prosecutor, teacher, doctor, or police officer, just because he is Albanian,” Kurtin claimed.

On April 19, Kosovo and Serbia adopted a 15-point draft agreement on normalising relations, allowing both sides to advance their integration into the European Union.

The deal mainly concerns the rights of minority Serbs concentrated in the northern part of Kosovo.

According to 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.

The action plan for the deal calls for legal changes in the line with the deal to be finished by mid-June, including a law on amnesty.

But Kurti said the amnesty plan also favoured Kosovo Serbs who stand to gain "a privileged status throughout Kosovo and over Kosovo”.

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

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