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news 09 Sep 16

Serb Census in Northern Kosovo Faces Obstacles

While a draft proposal for a census of Kosovo's northern, Serbian-dominated municipalities awaits parliament's approval, a Kosovo Serb leader has warned that the community may refuse to take part.

Die Morina BIRN Pristina
Northern Mitrovica | Photo: BIRN

The chair of the Kosovo parliament's Commission for Public Administration, Zenun Pajaziti, told BIRN that his commission had approved a draft document for a census to be held in northern Kosovo, which now has to be put on the parliamentary agenda.

The census in the four northern municipalities was planned for this autumn, the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Bajram Gecaj, added.

He said the national agency for statistics, ASK, in cooperation with international institutions should start working on the issue.

“The census in the four northern municipalities is planned for the autumn of 2016. The draft document was approved by the competent parliamentary commission and remains only to be approved by parliament,” Gecaj told BIRN.

However, Hazbije Qeriqi, the spokesperson for the ASK, told BIRN that they would need months to work on this process, which would not be possible to complete by autumn.

“If the Assembly approves this draft document, the ASK will need at least four or five months' preparation to implement the project on the ground," he warned.

The leader of Srpska List, the Belgrade-backed ethnic Serbian party which is part of the governing coalition in Kosovo, Slavko Simic, also warned that even if parliament adopts the draft document, the northern municipalities are not ready to implement it.

“We had a meeting with representatives of Serbs and mayors and concluded that we have no political, social and economical conditions to implement the census ... the draft document will be impossible to implement if people simply do not want to take part,” Simic told BIRN.

According to one recent survey, 56 per cent of Kosovo Serbs believe the poll should not take place, while only 30 per cent think it should. If the poll takes place only 20 per cent said they will participate, while 55 per cent said they will not.

The results of the national census of 2011 showed that 91 per cent of Kosovo’s 1.8 million citizens were Albanian. Another 3.4 per cent were Serbs and the remainder belonged to other communities, including Turks, Bosnians, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians.

However, as the entire process was boycotted by the northern municipalities of Northern Mitrovica, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic - home to many Serbs - the percentages obtained by the 2011 census are not seen as a reliable guide to Kosovo's demography.

 

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