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news 25 May 12

Pristina to Open Office in Serb-run North

Kosovo's Government is planning to open an Administrative Office in the north of Mitrovica, with a staff of 80 people.

Fatmir Aliu
Pristina

Kosovo's government is extending its presence in the Serb-run north of the country by opening an Administrative Office which it says is intended to improve living conditions of citizens in the area.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said the government in Pristina wants to demonstrate to Serbs in the north that Kosovo is the home of all its citizens.

"Establishing the office is another step to show our determination to develop and bring prosperity to the northern part of Kosovo," Thaci said on Wednesday. "We want to make sure that Government of Kosovo funds are used for the benefit of the community."

He called on Kosovo Serbs living in the north to use their expertise and commitment to help the office be representative and effective.

Northern Kosovo, which borders Serbia, has long been prone to outbreaks of violence. Its population, which is almost entirely comprised of Serbs, does not recognise Kosovo's independence or the government in Pristina.

While officially a part of Kosovo, the region has been under the de facto control of so-called parallel institutions funded by Belgrade. These parallel institutions include town councils, health authorities, post offices and schools.

Kosovo's government says that it is spending four million Euros per year, managed by the UN Mission to Kosovo-UNMIK office, in the north. But Thaci says that four years after the independence, it has decided to "assume greater responsibility in the northern part of Mitrovica."

The International Civilian Representative for Kosovo, Pieter Feith welcomed the government's decision to open the administrative office in the north.

"I encourage the Government to build on the experience of the established Kosovo Serb municipalities south of the Ibar by reaching out to the citizens in the North with a view to providing for legitimate local democracy, economic development and protection of everybody's traditional way of life," Feith said.

The budget of four million Euros will be allocated for basic community services and infrastructure projects in the northern part of Mitrovica.

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