From: Bledar Qalliu
Serbia Urged to Request Poll Centers for Kosovo Serbs

Serbs of Kosovo could vote in Serbian elections on April 3 only if Belgrade presents the government in Prishtina with a request in compliance with the country’s laws and good practices in EU member countries.

“To date, we have not received any request from Serbia to hold elections,” Mimoza Kusari-Lila, the ruling Vetevendosje party’s chief whip told journalists on Monday.

She added that such an official request would be reviewed, and a decision would be taken on whether and in what format to allow Serbian elections in Kosovo.

Serbia has been able to regularly hold elections in Kosovo – a neighboring country it refuses to recognize since Kosovo declared independence in 2008 after a brutal war waged against it in 1998-1999.

Previous governments had allowed poll centers to open in Kosovo’s north where Serbs, while the OSCE took care of collecting ballot boxes after the vote.

In January 2022, the parliament of Kosovo approved a resolution calling on the government to prevent Serbia from ever holding elections in the country.

It stated that Serbian elections held in Kosovo “violate the sovereignty and constitutional order of the Republic of Kosovo, are contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the Republic of Kosovo, as well as international norms and practices.”

Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he didn’t oppose the right of Kosovo Serbs to vote in Serbian elections, but the process should not violate Kosovo’s constitution and sovereignty. He added that they could vote by post or in Serbia’s representation office in Kosovo, and that the OSCE should not offer support to a foreign country’s election in Kosovo’s territory.

“A wrong practice established over the years does not justify the continuation of the same mistake. Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state and should be treated as such,” Kurti stated in January, arguing that “such practice is not acceptable in any democratic country.”

The Quint countries reacted to the January resolution by calling on the government to allow the continuation of the same practice and allow Serbia’s polling stations in Kosovo.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said they are in talks with Quint ambassadors (US, UK, Germany, France, Italy) and EU representatives to find a solution that would not violate Kosovo’s constitution, while also providing Kosovo Serbs with their right to vote in Serbian elections.

“We do not want any Kosovo citizen with Serbian citizenship to be deprived of the right to vote,” he stated.