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news 21 Dec 12

Belgrade Demands Self Rule for Kosovo Serbs

Belgrade seek broadest self rule for an 'Autonomous Community of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo', Serbia's draft platform on Kosovo reads.

Bojana Barlovac, Edona Peci Beta Belgrade

Serbian authorities demand a high level of territorial and political autonomy for Serbian municipalities there, the platform on which the country's officials agreed on Sunday reads.

These include Strpce and Gracanica in central and southern Kosovo, and Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan in the north.

According to the document, Belgrade wants their autonomy guaranteed by Kosovo's own highest laws and the international community.

Pristina MPs discuss Serbia's platform on Kosovo

Kosovo’s opposition criticized the government’s stand on the Serbian draft-platform for Kosovo saying it is a continuation of Pristina’s “retro-active” policy towards Belgrade since the start of dialogue in March 2011.

“There is a need for an extreme proaction if we want things not to turn harmful for the Republic of Kosovo”, Skender Hyseni, MP of the oppositional Kosovo’s Democratic League, LDK, said during the Parliament’s session.

The “Self-Determination” Movement which has rejected any kind of dialogue with Serbia unless it recognizes Kosovo independence considered the platform was another hit for Kosovo.

Visar Ymeri, a “Self-Determination” MP blamed Kosovo’s government for “fondling” Serbia.

“During any negotiation process held with Serbia so far, it has been proved that as long as you fondle Serbia, it becomes wilder and worse”, he stressed.

Northern Kosovo, which borders Serbia, is almost entirely comprised of Serbs and the authorities there do not recognise Kosovo's independence or the government in Pristina.

The area remains under the day-to-day control of so-called parallel institutions, funded by Belgrade, including town councils, health authorities, post offices and schools.

The platform also asks that smaller Serbian enclaves, such as villages, be granted the status of municipalities and special status.

Serbian authorities stressed in the document that a starting point for negotiations with Pristina is that Serbia cannot recognise the independence of Kosovo, proclaimed in 2008.

“The Republic of Serbia does not and will never recognize Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence,” it says.

The autonomous Serbian municipalities should, according to the document, have exclusive competences in the field of education, healthcare, judiciary, internal affairs, sport, culture, media, environmental protection, urban planning, agriculture, forestry, mining, energy, telecommunications, trade, economic and fiscal policies, and finance.

Thaci may withdraw from Kosovo talks

Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci may pull out of the Belgrade-Pristina talks if Serbian PM Ivica Dacic insists on solutions from the Serbian platform for Kosovo.

This is according to Pristina coordinator of political teams in talks on normalization of relations with Belgrade Blerim Shala.

He said that Kosovo “will not discuss and has nothing to discuss about the paper in Brussels or any other city in the world,” Pristina-based daily newspaper Koha Ditore has reported.

“We have nothing to talk about regarding this document. None of us should talk about the document with anyone anywhere, not in Brussels, Tunisia or any anywhere else. The document is wrong from the beginning until the end and it is contrary to what happened in Kosovo. We will not waste time talking about the document,” Shala said.

It is also demanded that an "Autonomous Community of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo" be guaranteed direct cooperation with the Belgrade authorities, including additional financing from the Serbian budget.

The Autonomous Serbian Community will independently decide on the choice and use of its symbols, the document says.

Belgrade also demands that special ties between the Serbian Orthodox Church, SPC, and the Pristina authorities be established, as well as international guarantees concerning issues of Church assets and activities in Kosovo.

Serbia's President, Tomislav Nikolic, presented the platform to foreign ambassadors in Serbia on Wednesday and then to the leaders of Serbian opposition parties on Thursday.

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