The government of Kosovo will not accept additional negotiations on the Association of Serb Municipalities (ASM), despite Serbia’s insistence.
Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s office reiterated the government’s stance on Monday, on the eve of Miroslav Lajcak’s visit, the EU envoy for the Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue.
“Kosovo concluded the negotiation process on the Association when an agreement was reached[…] Consequently, the Government of the Republic of Kosovo will not accept this topic to be on the negotiating table, but will respect the obligations of the [already] reached agreement, which later have been regulated by the decision of the Constitutional Court,” Koha daily quoted the prime minister’s office on Monday.
Two days ago, Lajcak urged Kosovo to implement the deal without delays.
“It is a very sensitive issue, on which the Constitutional Court of Kosovo has also spoken – and this opinion must be taken into account,” Lajcak said on Saturday for the Austrian newspaper, Weiner Zeitung.
“Those who object that now is not the right time for it, I ask them: “When, if not now? You signed this agreement yourself.” This is the process, and the time is right,” he added.
Serbia wants to renegotiate the establishment of the ASM while Kosovo insists it will implement the already signed agreements, without specifying when and how.
On September, Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi asked the parliament to vote on a resolution banning the government from renegotiating with Serbia the Kosovo’s internal affairs, in particular the Association of Serb- majority Municipalities.
The ASM was part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. It stipulated that Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo will be able to form a self-governing association with full governing power in many areas, including education, health, economic development, urban planning.
The agreement was fiercely opposed by the opposition for creating the conditions for the “bosnization” of Kosovo, i.e. the creation of a state within a state.
In December 2015, Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled parts of the 2013 agreement unconstitutional, and the establishment of the association stalled. Thaçi stated that the ASM should be implemented in accordance with the 2013 agreement with Serbia and the Constitutional Court verdict. If Hoti engages in further talks, he risks allowing the formation of a “Republika Srpska in the territory of Kosovo”, the President argued.
His reasoning suggests that, contrary to the opposition claims back then, the ASM agreement signed by him as prime minister in 2013 poses no risk to Kosovo’s statehood, and does not allow for the reproduction of some kind of “Republika Srpska” – state within a state – in Kosovo.