News 14 Jan 13

Kosovo Serbs Welcome Belgrade Resolution

Serbs in Kosovo have welcomed the Serbian parliament's resolution, which lays down the principles and guidelines for Belgrade negotiators in their dialogue with Pristina.

Tanjug, B92

Kosovo Serb leaders say they back the Serbian parliament resolution on Kosovo, as it will help solve open issues with Pristina and improve the status of Kosovo Serbs.

“This is the first time that the President, government and parliament stand behind one document, which shows that Serbia wants to find a compromise acceptable to both Serbs and Albanians while not betraying its state and national interests,” Krstimir Pantic, mayor of Kosovska Mitrovica in Serb-run northern Kosovo, said on January 13.

Rada Trajkovic, a Serb representative in the Kosovo parliament, said the resolution created solid ground for improving the status of Kosovo Serbs.

Serbia's parliament adopted the resolution on Kosovo after 14 hours of discussion just after midnight on January 13, pledging to support the EU-led Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and implement previously reached agreements.

The resolution also states that Serbia will never recognise Kosovo's independence from Serbia, which was proclaimed in 2008.

The dialogue was launched in March 2011. The two sides have since reached an agreement on border management, which was part of a deal on freedom of movement, as well as deals on Kosovo’s representation at regional meetings, university diplomas and trade. Not all the agreements have been implemented, however.

The resolution is based on the political platform for talks, which the government adopted on the proposal of President Tomislav Nikolic on January 9.

The platform calls for a high level of territorial and political autonomy for Serbian municipalities throughout Kosovo, including their own police and judiciary.

Northern Kosovo, which borders Serbia, is almost entirely comprised of Serbs and the authorities there do not recognise Kosovo's independence or the government in Pristina.

The area remains under the day-to-day control of so-called parallel institutions, funded by Belgrade, including town councils, health authorities, post offices and schools.

Contrary to some expectations, the resolution did not explicitly say anything about demanding autonomy for the area.

Instead, it said talks “should contribute to better living conditions for the people in Kosovo-Metohija, to peace and stability, and to the European future of Serbia and the region”.

The resolution also stated that Serbia will “strive to find a compromise and comprehensive solution for Kosovo-Metohija through dialogue.

“The solution must be a strong foundation for building a durable peace and securing full safety for all residents of the southern Serbian province”.

The text further writes that Belgrade is “aware of the significance that a mutually acceptable solution for Kosovo-Metohija will have in the context of the continued and accelerated integration of the entire Western Balkans region into the European Union”.

Ivica Dacic, Serbia's Prime Minister, said the government was not just proposing a textual resolution, but wanted to find a lasting solution to the Kosovo issue.

“The sovereignty of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija is almost a dead letter now," he said.

“Today, we are seeking support for a policy that should break the fable that says it is enough to hide behind resolutions, and see the Kosovo problem solved,” Dacic said during the debate in parliament on January 12.

Besides the ruling coalition parties, the resolution was backed by the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Party, and a few minor parties.

The Liberal Democratic Party the and Democratic Party of Serbia voted against it, however.

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