Thursday, January 5, 2012


Kosovo Rejects Serb Referendum Plans

Kosovo's government in Pristina has rejected plans for a Kosovo Serb referendum in the north, calling the vote "illegal".
Fatmir Aliu
Arber Vllahiu, the political advisor to Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, told Balkan Insight on Thursday that the planned vote, which will ask Kosovo Serbs if they wish to accept Pristina-based institutions, is considered illegal by Kosovo's authorities.

“No one in Kosovo, no municipality, group of municipalities or any ethnic, religious or political group, can organise a referendum to declare whether or not it recognises the state of Kosovo, or to declare whether or not it accepts the authority of Kosovo’s institutions in a specific part of its territory,” Vllahiu said.

Four municipalities in the volatile north, where most Kosovo Serbs live, are planning to hold the referendum on February 15.

The announcement of the scheduled vote comes after several months of tension in the north.

Serbs in northern Kosovo have been blocking roads since the summer in protest against attempts by the ethnic Albanian-led government in Pristina to take control of border crossings with Serbia. Clashes over the barricades in July left dozens of NATO peacekeepers and protesters injured.

Northern Kosovo leaders, however, have not received the backing of the government in Belgrade for the planned ballot. Serbian President Boris Tadic said that the vote would only deepen the current crisis and cannot contribute to dialogue in search of a solution to the Kosovo issue.

Tadic added that the referendum was unnecessary as "everybody in the world knows" that the Serbs in the north of Kosovo do not want Kosovo institutions.

Kosovo is built on the principle of the citizen, presidential advisor Vllahiu explained, and is not a “composition of different ethnic groups or communities which can, through such ballots, express themselves on the sovereignty of a state and whether or not they wish to live inside the country’s borders.”

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