European Western Balkans

Quint on situation in north of Kosovo: Both sides to work towards solution that provides democracy

Kosovo Elections; Photo: Tanjug/Edib Tahirović

PRISTINA – “We call on all actors to urgently work together among all interested parties, including local communities, towards a solution that provides sustainable participatory representative democracy”, it is said in a Joint Statement on Kosovo by the Quint countries (United States, France, Italy, Germany and United Kingdom).

They assessed that following the boycott by a significant portion of the Serb community, the results of the 23 April local elections did not bring a long-term political solution for these municipalities.

“There should be no actions or initiatives – including by newly elected mayors and municipal assemblies – that do not serve the people or that could heighten tensions. This includes exercising more than administrative powers and the process of taking office as there is no requirement that mayors be sworn in at municipal offices. All parties should refrain from the use of force or actions that inflame tensions or promote conflict”, stated Quint.

They concluded that these countries support the EU – facilitated Dialogue to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia, including the need for urgent progress to establish the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities (ASM).

On Friday, 19 May, Erden Atiq assumed the duties of the new mayor of North Mitrovica. He won 550 votes in the extraordinary elections held in April. It is not yet known when the elected mayors from Albanian parties in the three other municipalities with a majority Serb population will take office.

The local Serbs do not recognize the new mayors, while the leaders of the Serbian list (SL), which boycotted elections, say that “the Serbs will never allow municipalities in the north to be led by those with one or two percent of the vote”.

The reason for the fear that tensions in the north could escalate is the fact that newly elected mayors have problems with accessing the municipalities’ buildings. US ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey Hovenier, said that force should not be used to access municipalities’ buildings in the north. He emphasized that it is important to avoid conflicts or tensions on the ground.

“We expect the elected president of municipalities in the north to perform an administrative role, instead of a political one”, concluded Hovenier.

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