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news 27 Mar 17

Kosovo Serb MPs End Boycott of Parliament

Serb MPs returned to Kosovo parliament after six months to speed up the formation of an Association of Serb Municipalities but also to try to stop the formation of a Kosovo Army.

Sanja Sovrlic
BIRN
Mitrovica
Srpska Lista is mainly composed of members of the ruling parties in Serbia. Photo: Beta.

Slavko Simic, the leader of Srpska Lista, told BIRN on Monday that the bloc had ended its parliamentary boycott in order to prevent Pristina from making decisions that contradict the interests of Kosovo's Serb community. 

"We also want to contribute to the drafting of the statute for the Association of Serb Municipalities because it is obvious that Pristina would like that to be a package [that it drafts by itself]," Simic said.

Following the decision to cease the boycott, political representatives of the Serbs attended a Kosovo Assembly session on Monday for the first time in six months.

"The Association of Serb Municipalities is the sole property of the Serb community and the Serbs should decide on its establishment," Simic said. 

"We want to be constructive in public processes but also to strongly oppose the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into the Army of Kosovo, which Pristina is trying to do with the amendments to the constitution without the participation of the Serb community and without the support of the international community," he added.

Srpska Lista (Serbian List), the main party representing the Serb community in Kosovo, started boycotting Kosovo’s state institutions last November after a law was passed giving Kosovo majority ownership of the Trepca mining and metallurgical complex, which is also claimed by Belgrade.

Srpska Lista wanted the authorities to annul the law and speed up the process of establishing the promised Association of Serb Municipalities, which will represent Serbs in northern Kosovo, before it ends its boycott.

Srpska Lista, mainly composed of members of the Serbian ruling parties, has had close ties with Belgrade since its formation and has often served as Belgrade’s long arm in Pristina.

Local media also cited Simic as saying that Serb MPs decided to end the boycott and return to parliament to vote on a highly-disputed ratification of Kosovo's border agreement with Montenegro.

Klan Kosova TV reported that Simic said: “This is for the sake of the citizens, in order not to remain isolated.” 

The Kosovo opposition has staged several mass protests against the deal on border demarcation with Montenegro, which it claims gives away some of Kosovo’s land. 

The process of ratification of the border deal remain stuck in the parliament and it cost Kosovo visa-free travel with the EU in 2016.

The EU recommended visa liberalisation for Kosovo in May 2016, but on condition that Kosovo ratifies the demarcation agreement, signed in August 2105.

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