Belgrade mocks as Kosovo’s Serb minority boycotts elections
Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo boycotted municipal elections on Sunday to demand greater autonomy, sparking mockery from Belgrade.
European Union-brokered negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo in 2013 granted municipal governments the ability to act collectively with considerable self-governance.
But Goran Rakic, leader of the minority Serbian List party, called on Serb voters to boycott the elections, blaming ethnic targeting by the authorities in Pristina and the “non-implementation” of agreements. Kosovo remains a considerable problem for the international community since the short, decisive 1999 war with Serbia.
Nato troops are still deployed in the largely Muslim state that is not recognised by many countries, including Spain, which does not want to encourage Basque and Catalan separatism.
An estimated 3.5 per cent of voters or 1,567 residents cast ballots in North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.
The voting followed the resignation in November last year of Serb civil servants and politicians over Pristina’s decision to require all Kosovo cars to use Kosovo plates, a problematic request as many Kosovo Serbs do not recognise the country’s independence from Serbia.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said Belgrade was intimidating ethnic Serbs into not voting.
European Union spokesman Peter Stano tweeted: “These elections with so few voters do not bring political solutions. We regret the lack of participation from some parties.“
Mockery and condemnation were expressed in undiplomatic language in Belgrade.
Serbian President Aleksander Vucic condemned the vote, saying it would squeeze out ethnic Serb political representatives.
“What will happen next will be a complete invasion for which the citizens are already ready; they are used to it,” the Serbian president told the media.
Vucic said the European Union should have stopped any vote before the establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities, a sticking point in the cross-border talks with Pristina.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was less diplomatic and called the elections a “charade” pushed through by the western powers.
“Remember this day. This is the day when the last European ghetto gets legalised and legitimised. These images truly depict the ‘rule of law’ and the true meaning of ‘democratic elections’ in Kosovo and Metohija,” she tweeted.
“Feel proud! Celebrate today your achievements. Bask in the glory of what you have created,” she added.
Mitrovica. Picture credit: Wikipedia