Serbia: Albanians seek municipalities association

Serbia: Albanians seek municipalities association

Move, strongly opposed by Belgrade, comes after Serb majority association in Kosovo

World Bulletin / News Desk

Albanians living in Serbia decided Saturday to set up a association of Albanian majority municipalities in south of the country, weeks after Kosovo and Serbia agreed to establish an association of Serbian majority municipalities in Kosovo.

The decision was taken by Albanian council members of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac municipalities in southern Serbia.

“This initiative represents nothing else but reciprocity in rights for Albanians in Presovo Valley as those given to Serbians in Kosovo,” Presevo Mayor Ragmi Mustafa said.

“Following the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels (Aug. 25) we came to the conclusion that we, Albanians in the valley, also must adopt a document which would take us to a better direction, toward a better life,” the mayor of Bujanovac municipality, Nagip Arifi said, speaking in favor of more rights for Albanian community in Serbia.

The document adopted on Saturday tasks the secretaries with drafting the statute of the association, which will have the same juridical powers as the association of Serbian majority municipalities in Kosovo.

"The Association of Albanian Municipalities in Presevo Valley should be the same as the Association of Serbian Municipalities in the Republic of Kosovo," said the written statement released by the Assembly of Albanian council members.

However, earlier this week Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic was quoted by Serbian TV B92 as warning Albanians “not to play with fire”.

"We are warning them not to make any parallels on Saturday in Presevo with the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija; we are warning them not to play with fire and to respect the Constitution and order of the Republic of Serbia,” Dacic said during a rally in Medvedja. 

On Aug 25, Kosovo and Serbian PMs agreed in Brussels to establish an Association of Serbian majority municipalities in Albanian majority Kosovo.

The decision to form the association, which will enjoy powers over welfare, health and education, was strongly opposed by opposition political parties in Kosovo, which fear that this would led to what they call the “Bosnization” of Kosovo, creating an dysfunctional country.

Albanian media have quoted the Movement for Self-determination, biggest opposition party in Kosovo, as referring to the Statistical Agency of Kosovo, according to which the association will have about 30 percent of Kosovo’s territory, while serving 74,000 people -- less then five percent of the population.

The Movement for Self-determination said this association would be a “state within the state”.

The Kosovo government has sent the agreement to Kosovo Constitutional Court to see if the agreement is in compliance with the constitution.

Kosovo is a former Serbian province populated by nearly 1.8 million people, over 90 percent of whom are Kosovo Albanians.

Kosovo declared its independence on Feb. 17, 2008 and is recognized by about 110 countries, including the U.S., the U.K, France, Germany and Turkey. Serbia, Russia and China are among countries that have not recognized the country's independence.

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