Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti met in Brussels. The host, EU foreign policy representative Josep Borrell, assessed that the talks were unsuccessful.
After the talks, Borrell said that the European Union believes that the resignation of the mayors of the four majority-Serb municipalities in the north of Kosovo is the fastest and best way to early local elections.
As Borrell said, he therefore called on the leader to immediately repeat the local elections in the four majority-Serb municipalities. He explained that there are two paths leading to early elections – one is the resignation of the mayors, and the other is the collection of signatures of Kosovo Serbs for their recall.
“For the European Union, the resignation of the mayors, who were elected by only three percent of the population, is the fastest and best way to early elections. Collecting signatures is a long and uncertain process,” he said after separate and tripartite talks with Vučić and Kurti.
In a statement after the meeting, Kurti emphasized that he cannot demand the resignation of the mayors. “We cannot force the mayors to resign, even though their legitimacy is low,” he said.
Kosovo authorities are more inclined to collect signatures. Thus, at the beginning of the month, they issued an administrative instruction that allows citizens to replace municipal mayors with a petition. If the central election commission confirms that the appropriate signatures have been collected, it will organize a vote on the dismissal of the mayor.
Meanwhile, Borrell expects the Kosovo Serbs to be constructive and to participate unconditionally in the elections. As he said, the Serbian president gave him assurances in this regard.
A call to fulfill the Ohrid Agreement
According to him, the progress regarding the elections is also important for the further implementation of the agreement on the path to the normalization of relations, which Belgrade and Pristina concluded in Ohrid in March. Since then, only three points from the agreement have been fulfilled, and the implementation of the most important and key points has not yet started, he said. “This is deplorable and speaks volumes about the actual commitment of the parties to the normalization of relations, or the lack of commitment,” he said.
The EU proposes that the agreement be implemented in parallel, that is, that the parties fulfill their obligations at the same time. “However, Prime Minister Kurti did not want to make a move and start a credible process to establish a community of Serbian municipalities. He insisted on formalizing the de-facto recognition of independence,” Borrell explained.
After the talks, the Prime Minister of Kosovo emphasized that the agreement on the community of Serbian municipalities cannot be a precondition for the implementation of the Ohrid agreement.
Meanwhile, Vučić said that he accepted the Union’s proposal, which Borrell also confirmed. “I hope that in the future we will find some solutions, because this way we are not only going into a dead end, but into something unknown. But when you go into something unknown, you never know where it will end,” said the Serbian president.
The situation in the north of Kosovo worsened significantly after the April local elections in four majority-Serb municipalities, in which Albanians were elected as mayors. The worst incident occurred in Zvečan at the end of May, when several dozen members of the NATO mission in Kosovo, Kfor, were injured in clashes between Serbs and Kosovo police. After the talks in June, during which Vučić and Kurti met with Borrell only separately, tensions calmed down a bit.