European Western Balkans

EU denies that a Statute of the Association of the Serb-majority Municipalities had been made public

Vučić-Kurti meeting in Brussels, September 2023; Photo: X / @JosepBorrellF

PRISTINA / BRUSSELS – A supposed draft Statue of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities was leaked over the weekend in the Kosovo media. According to the document, it will be a forum for inter-municipal cooperation that would not gain additional executive competencies, with the possibility of financial support from Serbia. EU Spokesman Peter Stano, however, said on Monday that the document, which is currently being negotiated, had not been made public.

The document was published on Saturday, on a website apparently owned by Burim Ramadani, a former Inspector General of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (KIA).

Ramadani wrote on the website that Kosovo must gain something serious as a precondition for the implementation of this document because it is “very broad and deep”.

However, commenting on the document, EU Spokesman Peter Stano said today that “he could only recall that a new balanced European proposal for the establishment of the Association of Municipalities was presented to relevant partners” by the EU Special Representative Lajčák during his visit to the region at the end of October and it was subsequently discussed with both Parties during the Leaders’ meeting in the margins of the European Council last month.

In a statement for Euronews Albania, Stano said that the EU proposal has not been made public since diplomatic efforts are ongoing.

“We never pass on official documents that are being discussed and expect the same from the partners, as it is normal practice in international mediation to conduct the process in confidentiality. It is also our longstanding policy not to comment on alleged leaks or media reports claiming to have seen or published the document”, he said.

What is in the document?

According to the document, the Association “provides a self-management framework for the Kosovo Serb community within the existing municipal level of local self-government and shall not gain additional executive competencies compared to its member municipalities”.

The framework includes support of coordinated service provision in specific areas, with the possibility of financial support by Serbia, and an effective direct communication channel for the Kosovo Serb community to the Government of Kosovo through the Ministry of Local Government Administration.

“In accordance with the applicable law, the Association shall act as a forum for inter-municipal cooperation and coordination through which its members shall examine matters of their common interests, and support the delivery of public services within member municipalities”, the draft Statute reads. 

The Association shall manage education and healthcare institutions, which have been directly financed by Serbia, in accordance with the specific procedures outlined in this Statute, and in accordance with the applicable law.

According to the document, “Kosovo Serb Healthcare Network” and “Kosovo Serb Education Network” will be established as private education and healthcare providers under the responsibility of the association, highlighting Serbia as the financial contributor.

“In Kosovo, these providers shall endeavour to have the status of foreign private education and foreign private healthcare provider. The operation of these networks shall in no way hinder the functioning of the existing Kosovo system of public schools and the Kosovo system of public healthcare”, the document reads.

The statute also establishes additional responsibilities related to health and social care, local democracy, culture, economic development, urban and rural planning, returnees, research and development and joint public enterprises.

When it comes to the bodies, the leaked document states that the Association will be composed of the Assembly, President and Vice-President, Board, Advisory Council, Administration and Complaints Office.

The Assembly will adopt Regulations, Special Regulations, Rules of Procedure, decisions, statements and declarations. It will appoint and dismiss the President and the Vice-President of the Association. Delegates of the Assembly shall be elected by member municipal assemblies.

The President, according to the document, shall represent the Association before the Central Authorities and the third parties, domestic and foreign. He also manages the Association’s budget and spending.

The budget of the association shall be subject to a five-year period of oversight by the EU, after which the decision will be made on whether this should be continued.

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