Kosovo Serbs will protest against the government for allegedly not allowing polling stations in its territory for the Serbian elections of April 3. The decision comes after representatives of the community met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade.
The participation of Kosovo Serb Judge Ljiljana Stevanovic of the Basic Court of Mitrovica in this meeting, in addition to the usual Belgrade-controlled Kosovo Serb politicians, has raised concerns on the court’s independence.
The Kosovo Serb judge’s involvement in a meeting called by a foreign leader who doesn’t recognize Kosovo stoked fears that Serbia may be using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to provoke a conflict in Kosovo, by agitating Kosovo Serbs against the government through the local political party Lista Srpska that is controlled by Belgrade. This conflict would be similar to that caused in Bosnia and Herzegovina by Vucic and Putin protégé Milorad Dodik.
The Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC) is evaluating Judge Stevanovic’s participation in the meeting, the President of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, Enver Peci notified the press, as reported by RFE.
Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu had earlier called on the KJC to react to the judge’s actions: “Judges and court presidents in the Republic of Kosovo must behave with high moral and professional integrity. The participation in such a meeting violates this integrity,” the minister said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Asked by RFE, Judge Stevanovic declined to comment, arguing she didn’t have time to answer questions.
On March 22, President Vucic called representatives of Kosovo Serbs to discuss Serbia’s response to what they considered Kosovo’s refusal to allow the opening of polling stations for the Serbian elections of April 3.
Vucic said Kosovo Serbs asked him to agree to their withdrawal from all Kosovo institutions, but he calmed them down and asked them to wait until after the April elections.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti urged Kosovo Serbs against such protests, claiming they are planned to take place over the weekend following the meeting called by Vucic in Belgrade.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vucic’s protégé Milorad Dodik has been threatening the country with dissolution after withdrawing from its institutions in response to a ban on genocide denial imposed in Bosnia.
Kurti had argued that the matter of Serbian elections in Kosovo should be resolved through an agreement between the governments of both countries, but Vucic categorically refused this, arguing that this would amount to Serbia recognizing Kosovo as an independent country which, he stressed, will never happen.
“I have never aimed to bring Serbia’s recognition through this correspondence [between governments]. I have known all along that this can’t be done, but no one can expect from me that I don’t recognize the Republic of Kosovo, our country’s independence,” Kurti argued in a TV interview.
Nevertheless, his government drew criticism from the Quint (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy), who blamed Kosovo for the failure of talks facilitated by the EU, arguing that Serbia had been open to the Quint proposals.
This week, Montenegro also refused to allow for Serbian polling stations in its territory.