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News 21 Apr 16

OSCE Agrees to Run Serbian Elections in Kosovo

Following the same pattern used for previous Serbian elections, the OSCE will handle the votes cast by Kosovo Serbs in the Serbian parliamentary elections on April 24.

Perparim Isufi
BIRN
Pristina
The OSCE and Kosovo have reached a deal that will allow the OSCE to collect the votes of Kosovo Serbs in the Serbian parliamentary elections in June. Photo: OSCE

The OSCE and Kosovo have reached a deal that will allow the OSCE to collect the votes of Kosovo Serbs in the Serbian parliamentary elections in April.

It is the third election facilitation operation conducted by the OSCE in four years. It undertook the same role in the 2012 and 2014 Serbian parliamentary elections.

“The Mission is now planning all operational details and will inform the public accordingly,” the OSCE statement read.

Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state but maintains it is still a province of Serbia, which is why Belgrade includes votes from Kosovo in its elections.

On the other hand, while Kosovo allows ethnic Serbs to hold dual citizenship, it does not allow the Serbian Election Commission to organize elections within the country for reasons to do with its sovereignty.

Kosovo government officials said Serbia’s election body would play no role in the voting process.

Bajram Gecaj, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Kosovo's negotiator on Serbian elections issue, told BIRN that the arrangements provided only for five voting “collection centres” to be set up across Kosovo.

Two will be in the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo and three in the south.

“There will be no classic vote by Serbs in Kosovo on Monday. There are only collection centres,” Gecaj said.

The agreement between Pristina and the OSCE Mission came on a day when Kosovo and Serbia delegations were locked in Brussels in meetings.

Marko Djuric, head of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo, said the delegations reached agreements on IDs, a blockade imposed on Serbian trucks and on the upcoming Serbian elections.

“I think we made a good deal for our country and for our people in Kosovo and Metohija,” Djuric said after the meeting, using the Serbian term for Kosovo.

“We also reached an agreement about the elections taking place using the same model as in 2014, with the presence of the OSCE, which will guarantee that everything will be in line with the rules and procedures,” Djuric added.

According to Djuric, no Serbian citizens and officials are banned from entering Kosovo.

However, Kosovo's Minister for Dialogue, Edita Tahiri, said she had raised concerns about the “provocative electoral campaigning” undertaken by some Serbian officials in their rallies in Kosovo.

According to the Kosovo government, Djuric apologized for visiting Kosovo last week without seeking the Kosovo government’s permission and the two sides “pledged to respect the agreement on mutual visits”.

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