Serbs exert influence by participating in Kosovo election

25/06/2014

The possibility of a change in the ruling coalition in Kosovo will not derail the integration of Kosovo Serbs, experts said.

By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 25/06/14

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About 43 percent of Kosovo Serbs voted in the June 8th election, the Kosovo Central Election Commission said. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]

A possible change in the government after this month's elections will not halt the integration process of Serbs into Kosovo institutions, according to experts who said dialogue remains the best way for Kosovo to resolve open issues with Serbia.

According to Azem Vllasi, a politician and lawyer, Kosovo Serbs' participation in the June 8th elections shows the minority's involvement.

"They have 10 seats in the assembly, guaranteed by the constitution, and their turnout, which was almost the same as Albanian voters in percentage, shows they have voted for their representatives in the Kosovo assembly," Vllasi told SETimes.

According to Milovan Drecun, president of the Serbian parliament board for Kosovo, the recent elections contributed to on-going improvements in the political life of Serbs in Kosovo.

"The Serbian list has been formed and it is linked, directly, with officials in Belgrade. A kind of unity has been established as well, especially with MPs that were a part of the previous parliament," Drecun told SETimes.

Dusan Janjic, director of the Belgrade-based Forum for Ethnic Relations, said the elections represent the implementation of the Brussels agreement reached last year.

"Holding the elections, never mind their results, enables the realisation of the constitutional act on representation of Serbs in the institutions, and in parliament and government, as well as in public companies that are connected with the government," Janjic told SETimes.

The Kosovo Central Election Commission said that with the exception of Mitrovica, where 17 percent of voters went to the polls, municipalities with predominantly Serb populations saw a turnout of around 43 percent.

Although the coalition led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo won most of the votes in the election, the Democratic League of Kosovo, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and the Initiative for Kosovo (NISMA) signed a deal after the vote to form the government. Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo would be in opposition.

Most likely, the Constitutional Court will need to clarify if the move is legal or not, experts said.

Vllasi said that regardless of who forms the government, Serbs will belong to the ruling block, and that about five of the 10 Serb representatives will be part of the government.

"The dynamics of the process of dialogue with Serbia and normalisation of the relations between Kosovo and Serbia will continue without major changes," Vllasi said.

Behlul Beqa, a University of Pristina professor of political science, said that with the integration of the Serb minority, Kosovo's institutions will face increasing demands.

"Serbs will not stop with the creation of the Association of the Serb Municipalities. They will be looking for executive powers, to which most likely the international community will show some understanding, given that Serbia is getting closer with EU in its foreign policy," Beqa told SETimes.

Beqa said, however, that no matter who is in power, the minority will be instructed by Belgrade.

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"Serbs loyal to Thaci will be replaced by Serbs loyal to [Serbia President Tomislav] Nikolic, [Serbia Foreign Minister Ivica] Dacic and [Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar] Vucic, and their demands will be much higher than those of current Serbs," Beqa said.

However, he added, "Dialogue is the only way to go, regardless who will be in the ruling coalition in Kosovo, and regardless of the outcome of relations with Serbia and the international community."

Correspondent Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade contributed to this report.

What measures can Pristina undertake to foster the integration of Kosovo Serbs into institutions? Tell us your thoughts below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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