After an absence of almost three-years, Albanian leaders from southern Serbia have returned to the Co-ordination Body for Preševo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, after an agreement was reached on restructuring the Body’s composition and competencies.
By Ian Bancroft
The agreement – which was signed by the Head of the Coordination Body, Milan Marković (Serbia’s Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government), Riza Halimi, a member of the Serbian Assembly, Hans Ola Urstad, Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, plus the mayors of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac – will be monitored and co-ordinated by the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
According to the agreement, all Co-ordination Body decisions will now be made by consensus. In addition, steps will be taken to ensure the adequate inclusion of the Albanian community in state institutions, whilst multi-ethnic governance will be strengthened through the involvement of Serbian representatives in local governments in the region. The role of Deputy President of the Co-ordination Body (who is responsible for co-ordinating the work of the local self-governments in performing the tasks necessary for adoption and implementation of the Body’s programmes and decisions), meanwhile, will be performed by the Presidents of Bujanovac and Preševo municipalities on a rotational basis.
The Co-ordination Body will also establish six working groups to focus on economic and infrastructure development; political and social integration; security and the judiciary; the capacity-building of local self-governments; education, culture, information, sport and youth; and health protection and social policy. Each working group will be composed of three members from the respective Ministry and three members from each of the respective local self-governments, whose proposed members should reflect the ethnic structures of the municipalities.
Cameron Munter, the US Ambassador to Serbia, described the agreement as, “an important step forward, which will make it possible for residents of the region to work in the integrated body, as well as to cooperate”.
Šaif Kamberi, the President of Bujanovac, however, commented that “the reorganization of the Coordination Body itself is not our goal. We believe that the Coordination Body is a means to help us exercise our demands. We’ve managed to enhance the political process that has been unfolding for quite some time, and that hasn’t actually brought any results, particularly in the process of integrating the Albanians into state institutions and the region’s economic development”.