Belgrade wants broad autonomy for Serbian municipalities in north of Kosovo.
By Biljana Pekusic and Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Belgrade and Pristina -- 15/01/13
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic says the platform is important because Serbia needs "results and responsibility, not a policy of honorable failures and lost battles." [AFP]
The overwhelming majority of the Serbian parliament supports autonomy for Serbs in Kosovo's borders, a significant step in acknowledging the integrity of its breakaway republic four years after Kosovo declared independence.
The vote in parliament on Sunday (January 13th) acknowledges that Serbia does not recognise Kosovo's independence, but is geared toward integrating Belgrade with European institutions and the EU.
"Such [are the] formulations of Serbia, saying that it wants to trade in talks with Pristina, due to European integration to agree on who knows what conditions," Marko Jaksic, vice president of the Association of Municipalities in Kosovo and Metohia and a Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) MP, told SETimes.
The resolution was supported by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of President Tomislav Nikolic and the primary opposition Democratic Party (DS) that was removed from power in last year's parliamentary election. A key point was the removal of language that would allow Belgrade to prematurely end negotiations and wipe clear any progress.
"We wanted to make sure that the platform does not say that Serbia would interrupt the dialogue with Pristina, as written in the first version of that document," Borislav Stefanovic, deputy chief DS and former head of Serbia's negotiating team in the dialogue, told SETimes.
Aleksandra Joksimovic, former deputy minister of foreign affairs, said that she believes that Nikolic succumbed to the arguments of Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, but also the opinion of the international community.
"Nikolic has agreed to expel the view that 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,' what indicates that Belgrade is trying to be cooperative," Joksimovic said. The document stresses the readiness of Serbia "to make additional concessions to overcome the current state of relations between the Serbian and Albanian people, but that there will be no concessions that could jeopardise the state and national interests."
While some nationalistic lawmakers criticised the platform, Dacic supported it.
"If Serbia keeps its head in the sand, it will have nothing to negotiate about," he told reporters. "People need results and responsibility, not a policy of honorable failures and lost battles."
Nikolic also spoke in favor of the document and the democratic process. "We did not reach a complete consensus, but it is clear that there is will to help find a solution to this problem," he said.
In Pristina, however, the platform was received with scepticism. Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said that the Serbian platform is out of reality and a step "pretty wrong in time and not necessary."
"It is not at all any kind of framework for anything," he told SETimes. "In our view, it is actually a useless paper. At the same time, it is actually a paper that is promoting Kosovo partition. The destiny of that paper is going to be like that of all memorandums or platforms which Serbia produced regarding on Kosovo in the last 100 years."