Serbs to hold referendum on Kosovo institutions

Serbs to hold referendum on Kosovo institutions

Serbs in northern Kosovo called for a referendum Dec. 28 to underline their opposition to Belgrade’s concessions to the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina in EU-brokered talks.

The referendum, due to be held Feb. 14 and 15, 2012, will ask voters if they accept the Republic of Kosovo’s institutions. Neither Kosovo Serbs nor Belgrade recognizes Pristina’s 2008 declaration of independence.

However, under EU pressure, Serbia is currently in talks with Pristina and has reached several agreements aimed at easing everyday life for all Kosovo inhabitants. “The referendum will show that Serbs who live in northern Kosovo do not want to be part of the Pristina institutions,” Krstimir Pantic, the mayor of Kosovska Mitrovica, told Agence France-Presse.

Turkey expresses pleasure over the deal

Political leaders said Serbs fear this is a prelude to an eventual Belgrade retreat from northern Kosovo under EU pressure. Meanwhile, Turkey welcomed the free movement deal which has begun application between Serbia and Kosovo. The Turkish Foreign Ministry recalled Dec. 28 that officials agreed on the deal within the scope of the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue in July and expressed pleasure the deal was put into effect Dec. 26, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The ministry said it hoped all agreements reached within the scope of the July dialogue would be put into effect without delay. Turkey encourages all steps that will contribute to boosting contacts and commerce between the two countries, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that Turkey strongly supported the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue process, which would strengthen peace and stability in the Balkans.