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News 24 Apr 13

Serbia Head of Kosovo Office Quits over EU Deal

Aleksandar Vulin, director of government’s Office for Kosovo, said he is resigning in protest against the conclusion of a landmark deal with Kosovo, which he said ought to have gone to a referendum.

BIRN Belgrade

Vulin told Serbian public service broadcaster, RTS, on Tuesday evening that he resigning as head of the government office on Kosovo after Belgrade and Pristina agreed a deal on the future of Serb-run northern Kosovo in the tenth round of EU-led talks.

The draft agreement envisions that the local Serbian community will choose their own police commanders, while the composition of the police force will reflect the ethnic structure on the ground. The draft also proposes more judges coming from the Serbian minority.

According to Vulin, who was appointed head of the Office in July 2012, the first reason for his resignation was because he thought the issue should have gone a referendum.

He also said that he had promised the Kosovo Serbs that the agreement would be different from the one now accepted.

“I gave my word to Kosovo Serbs that the agreement would be different,” Vulin said, adding that he supported their demand for a referendum.

Kosovo Serb leaders are due to meet Serbian top officials and discuss the agreement shortly.

Asked if the Belgrade team could have done a better job in the EU-led negotiations, he said that he did not know.

“What we accepted is a miracle compared to what we were first offered but it is not good enough but I think our people deserve more,” Vulin noted.  

The EU-mediated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia was launched in March 2011, three years after Kosovo declared independence.

The aim was to normalise relations between the two countries, both of which aspire to EU membership, in the context of Serbia's continued refusal to recognise Kosovo's independence.

Vulin also said he feared a new wave of recognitions of Kosovo's statehood, urging Serbia to strengthen ties with Russia and China in order to prevent this.

As of now, 99 of the 193 UN member states have recognised Kosovo, including 22 of the 27 EU member states and the US. Russia and China have supported Serbia in refusing to recognise the former Serbian province as an independent country.

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