News 27 Apr 13

Serbian Parliament Approves Belgrade, Pristina Deal

Serbian parliament gave the green light for the EU-backed agreement on the integration of the Serb minority in Kosovo when it adopted the government’s report on the Belgrade, Pristina talks.

Gordana Andric

A majority of deputies in parliament, 173 out of 250, on Friday evening voted to support the government’s report on the Kosovo dialogue, while 24 deputies voted against. 

Beside the ruling Progressives, Socialists and United Regions of Serbia, the opposition Democratic Party, Liberal Democrat Party, League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians and the Serbian Renewal Movement voted for the report.

The Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, several deputies from Kosovo from other parties and independent deputies Borislav Pelevic and Nikola Tulimirovic voted against. 

Presenting the report to the parliament Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said the agreement with Pristina was a chance for Serbia to defend its national and state interests.

“We had an historic responsibility and we could not run away from it. I am convinced that we could not get a better deal.

“We know this is too little, we know that we do not have Kosovo for a long time now, but we have one small part of it and we preserved that part,” said Dacic, adding that the agreement does not constitute a Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence. 

While some deputies interrupted Dacic’s speech to applaud him, Democratic Party of Serbia's MPs vented their disapproval of the Brussels agreement by whistling at the prime minister.

The government report on the EU-mediated political and technical dialogue with Pristina included the agreement proposal reached in Brussels on April 19 and an implementation plan for previously reached agreements. 

Kosovo and Serbia adopted a 15-point draft agreement on normalising relations, allowing both sides to advance their integration into the European Union a week ago.

The draft agreement mainly concerns the future of the Serbian minority in Kosovo. 

The deal envisions that the local Serbian community will choose its own police commanders, while the composition of the police will generally reflect the ethnic mix on the ground. The draft also proposes more judges should come from the Serbian minority.

An Association of Serbian Municipalities with broad powers will include the four Serb-run northern municipalities of North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.

Since the end of the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, northern Kosovo has been beyond the Pristina government’s control, while Serbia has continued to finance local security, judicial, health and educational institutions. 

During Friday’s parliamentary session, members of the Serbian Radical party and far right organisations Dveri, Obraz, Nasi and Zavetnici gathered in front of the parliament to protest against the agreement with Pristina.

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