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News 13 Aug 13

Compromise Urged in Kosovo Ballot Paper Row

As a dispute rumbles on over the use of symbols on upcoming Kosovo local election ballots, the OSCE has urged all parties to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Edona Peci

The OSCE has called for "a mutually agreed solution" to a dispute over the use of symbols on ballot papers in Kosovo's November 3 elections.

A compromise "would be the best option”, Nikola Gaon, the mission’s spokesperson, told Balkan Insight, referring to the issue raised in talks last week in Brussels.

While authorities in Kosovo say the symbols dispayed on ballots match Kosovo's laws, officials in Belgrade says ethnic Serbs concentrated in the north of Kosovo will not participate in elections under such conditions.

This is because the symbols show the coat of arms of the state of Kosovo, which is not recognized by Serbia.

Kosovo leaders will feel under some pressure to compromise, as they admit a good turn-out is important in the forthcoming poll.

“A high number of Serbs in the north participating in the elections would give [the process] a stronger and real meaning,” the Kosovo Prime minister, Hashim Thaci, said on Tuesday.

November 3 was set as the election date in consultations between Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic.

Since the end of the conflict in 1999, Kosovo Serbs in the north of the country have boycotted all elections organised by the government, insisting that they wish to remain part of Serbia. Thus, a healthy turnout in the approaching poll is seen as highly politically significant.

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