Serbia eyes autonomy for Serbs in Kosovo
BELGRADE - Agence France-Presse
Serbian nationalists protest the opening of crossing points with Kosovo. AFP photoSerbia wants for its Serb minority in Kosovo a “high degree of autonomy” modelled on Spain’s Catalan region, Beta news agency reported on Dec. 20, quoting a document to be sent to the republic’s parliament for debate.
Kosovo in 2008 declared itself an independent state, a move which was rejected by Serbia and Serbs in Kosovo but which was recognized by much of the international community. The document, presented to Serbia’s opposition leaders by President Tomislav Nikolic, called for a “high degree of territorial and political autonomy” for all municipalities in Kosovo where the Serbs form a majority, the agency said.
Serbia also wants such a status for some 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo to be guaranteed by the international community and the laws of the territory.
According to Beta, Serbia wants this autonomy to cover all aspects of everyday life, including police, education, justice, economy and financial issues.
“Serbia will never recognize the independence of Kosovo,” it added.
The document stipulates that autonomy should be given to four municipalities in tense northern Kosovo - where some 40,000 minority Serbs live - as well as to the enclaves scattered throughout the territory, home to a remaining 80,000 Serbs.
In Pristina, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said such a plan “is not feasible.” “This anti-European and out-of-date platform is against peace in Kosovo and in the region... It will remain Belgrade’s wishful thinking,” Thaci told his cabinet.
Improvement in relations between Belgrade and Pristina is a key condition Brussels has set for Serbia to obtain the date to start membership talks with the European Union.