Kosovo – is Belgrade seeking a Republika Srpska?

The Quint would be rightly concerned over a Serbian demand to give an association its own powers, funds and representation at central level. That would be a Republika Srpska. Asking for that would go needlessly beyond what the Ahtisaari Plan already provides and would provoke Pristina and the Quint.

Suggested Reading

Conflict Background

GCCT

By Gerard M. Gallucci

The apparent Quint effort – led by the EU and US – to force Belgrade to surrender north Kosovo to Pristina control or lose the opening for EU membership is misguided and dangerous. The next round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina is scheduled for next week. But from public comments and seeming leaks, the two sides remain far apart. Pristina still appears unready for compromise, claiming complete US support for its maximalist position on the north. And now it seems some in Belgrade may be thinking of pushing needlessly far from the Ahtisaari framework.

The Ahtisaari Plan provides a sound basis for practical decentralization in Kosovo. Ensuring it works fully south of the Ibar should be a prime EU/US focus. But north of the Ibar, decentralization would need to be implemented in a way that reflects the different reality there. North Kosovo has never been under Pristina and still functions as part of Serbia. Seeking to change that through force – or by pushing Belgrade to withdraw its presence there – would either fail or lead to further ethnic conflict.

At the most recent round of talks, the EU reportedly gave Belgrade a paper that repeats the broad outlines of the Ahtisaari Plan – emphasizing the “Constitution of Kosovo” – while avoiding the important details of how it could be implemented in the north in a manner acceptable to the local population. Reportedly, the EU is preparing a further offer for next week – a guarantee that the Kosovo army will be kept out of the north. (Who would guarantee the guarantee and would it include Pristina’s special police, the ROSU?)

Belgrade reportedly is preparing a detailed version of its proposal including changing the Kosovo Constitution to “legalize” an association of Serbian municipalities and granting it competences in areas already mostly covered in the Ahtisaari Plan. According to the press, the Serbian leadership met and decided on nine “criteria” about the association that would have to be answered in an agreement:

  • whether it would have its own powers (or carry out those given to the municipalities), executive council and assets
  • whether it would operate under the law of Kosovo
  • whether it would have an elected or delegated assembly
  • whether it would have the power to assign and confirm places of residence, determine electoral registers and the composition of a separate court
  • whether its decisions would need to be approved by Pristina
  • whether there would be a “mechanism” for Serb participation in central government bodies
  • whether Kosovo security services would stay out of the north.

An official who took part in the meeting told the press that “a negative answer to any of these criteria in fact disqualifies the possibility of agreement.”

These points all need to be defined. But it should be noted that the Ahtisaari Plan (Annex III) is clear that a partnership of municipalities would have a decision-making body of delegates chosen by the municipalities and would not have its own powers. The form participation in central government would take is also clear: through participation in the parliament and government as individuals. The association per se would have no corporate existence at the central level. These are important points and the Quint would be rightly concerned over a Serbian demand to give an association its own powers, funds and representation at central level. That would be a Republika Srpska. Asking for that would go needlessly beyond what the Ahtisaari Plan already provides and provoke Pristina and the Quint.

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010.

To read TransConflict’s recently-released policy paper, entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’, please click here.

To read other articles by Gerard for TransConflict, please click here. If you are interested in responding to this article, please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here

To learn more about both Serbia and Kosovo, please check out TransConflict’s reading lists series by clicking here.

What are the principles of conflict transformation?

41 Responses

  1. Hesh

    The Quint would be rightly concerned over a Serbian demand to give an association its own powers, funds and representation at central level. That would be a Republika Srpska. Asking for that would go needlessly beyond what the Ahtisaari Plan already provides and would provoke Pristina and the Quint.

    That is speaking as if Kosovo i Metohija is a universally recognized, independent state. Serbia should not be negotiating for autonomy in a non-functioning quasi-state.Also this guy actually says the idea of Serbian autonomy in an ethnically cleansed narco-territory as “provoking”.

    Serbia as a society needs to distance itself and not accept such racist Serbo-phobic discourse. Serbia needs not to waste its time with negotiations under an anti-Serbian EU meditation. This topic needs to be (and legally can) be brought back to the UN. Serbia made a huge (and obvious at the time) “mistake” (although I am sure the morally corrupted gov’t knew exactly what it was doing) by allowing the talks to take place in Brussels instead of the UN.

    1. Fadil

      @Hesh,

      What do you mean “universally recognized, independent state.”??? In order to be a STATE, an entity must fulfill 4 (four) criteria of Montevideo Convent, but there is not a SINGLE demand or wording of “universally recognized, independent state.” The fourth criteria is just “ability to enter into relations with other states”. Kosovo fill’s absolutely that fourth condition (having diplomatic/formal recognition of more than half of UN members) hence its a STATE.

      As for crime and narco state, Serbia is SECOND TO NONE. Just read these news (fresh ones): http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2013&mm=03&dd=23&nav_category=16&nav_id=697929

      Serbia may STOP negotiations EVEN now. What you are waiting for??? Just STOP NOW negotiations. Kosovo will be very happy for that. Next day would start implementation of Ahtisaari Plan in the North of Kosovo and starting of reciprocal measures with Serbia.

      You may ask going to UN to negotiate with Kosovo. OK, you may do that every day, every minute. That is your problem. Kosovo leaders will just refuse such demands and will not waste time with you.

  2. Pingback : The time to settle is now | peacefare.net

  3. Pingback : The time to settle is now – Kosovo News

  4. Lt Rinas

    Gerard, as well as every time before, I believe that you are right. Yes, Belgrade wants to make Republika Srpska in the north of Kosovo and Metohia. With full right and as a temporary minimum.

    1. Fadil

      @LT Rinas,

      Serbia may ASK “Republika Srpska” in Kosovo when it gives independence to Hungarians of Vojvodina or joining to Hungary and two “Republika Srpska” within Serbia. First one “Republic of Sandjak” and second one “Republic of Preseveo valley”. After that, Kosovo authorities may consider such demands for northern Serbs in Kosovo.

      Until then just Ahtisaari plan and nothing more for northern Kosovo.

  5. PEN

    @Lt Rinas,

    Who is this moron ‘fadil’ He’s getting more hysterical each time he posts his crap. Does he speak for the Thaci regime? I mean is he their designated spokesman for TransConflict. If that’s the best they can muster than god help them. By the way, I read today that Serbian citizens of Albanian descent in Presevo are queuing up to learn Serbian in order to assimilate properly and move ahead in society. Good news. Supported by the UK embassy in Belgrade no less. So much for the ‘Republic of Presevo.’ What a joke! I don’t see Serbian kids lining up to learn Albanian in Mitrovica do you.

    1. Fadil

      @PEN,

      As usually, you share LIES here. British ambassador asked from young Albanians, in Presevo valley, to learn Serbian, which is fine. Serbs in Kosovo by the same approach are asked to learn Albanian, as language of majority in Kosovo, which is fine again. Albanians in Presevo, in fact, asked THE SAME status as Serbs in northern Kosovo so if one wants “Republika Srpska” in northern Kosovo THE SAME must be granted for Presevo valley. Of course primitive minds can’t grasp that EQUALITY is the principle that works.

      Actually what is happening is “cosmic justice” as president of biggest opposition party in Serbia, Dragan Djilas, would say. Mr. Djilas was referring to the fact that now Serbia is leaded by the same people who caused suffering to the others on 1990s and now have to solve their wrongdoings.

      So there is a hope that extremist, like you, will be in isolation and irrelevant.

  6. Serbia needs to be put under maximum pressure in order to recognize Kosovo and apoligize for warcrimes and genocide across former Yugoslavia.Serbia must stop with war time propaganda and trying to destabilize it’s neighbours.

  7. PEN

    I wonder what ‘NO’ stands for in Albanian. ‘Prejudiced’ ‘Bigoted’ ‘Racist’ ‘Intolerant.’ Yes, that sounds more like it.

  8. Lt Rinas

    PEN, ahmmm, I believe that only Balkanians shoud have exclusive right to insult each other:-)
    If I understood well, you are not from Balkans?

  9. PEN

    Well Lt Rinas you understood wrong. Given that much of the world has been insulting Belgrade for the past twenty odd years you should perhaps consider getting a grip on reality. But you continue indulging people like fadil with your mixed messages and incoherent ideas and Serbia will stay exactly where she is, isolated, neglected, and drifting.

    1. Fadil

      @PEN,

      Actually people like you, as hard extremists, will be more and more isolated. When I see such message, as todays one, form former Serbian radical as Aleksandar Vucic saying “its time to think for the future”, I believe there is a hope for Serbia. As I said in many occasions, american diplomats were very fair with Serbian leaders advising them to stop “self destructive activities as in last two decades”. Serbia or anyone from Serbia can’t blame the others because of such self destructive and aggressive activities being in conflict with all neighbors. Serbs fought against Croats, against Bosniaks and finally against Albanians. When a country behaves in such destructive way then must expect consequences.

  10. PEN

    The only ‘hard extremism’ evident on this forum ‘fadil’ is the garbage you keep posting with monotonous regularity and repeated ad-nauseum. I suppose every forum needs a clown, so keep it up sunshine we could all do with a laugh.

  11. Lt Rinas

    PEN, you are really right about the fact that propaganda or lobbying is weak side of Serbian policy, which really left Serbia isolated.
    But I’m not worried regarding certain persons here. They are just barking dogs, tasked by their masters to repeat certain sentences hoping they will become the truth. I just don’t want to have any disscussion at that level. You know that old joke or proverb: it is useless to argue with a fool. First he drags you down at his level, and then beat you with his experience.
    So, they are actually insult for themselves and also for the people they are trying to represent. Only, I’m surprised that such a level of discussion, as those people have, is allowed on this forum. I expected much more from the forum or internet site named “transconfilct”.

    1. Fadil

      @LT Rinas,

      The time of “your majesty” fortunately has ended. Repeating FACTS, of course, is not in any circumstance “lobbying or propaganda”. Citing YOUR vice prime minister is NOT for sure “propaganda”. Obviously it must hurt you so much that even former Serbian radical had to ACCEPT the reality. Do you remember that the same person was minister of information in Milosevic’s government on 1999? That person (Alekdandar Vucic) fined medias in Serbia if those media would not follow state propaganda. That person was high ranking official in the same party (Serbian radical party) with Voislav Seselj who asked OPENLY extermination of Albanians on 1999.

      Fortunately, as I said in many occasions, we live in 21st century hence very bad time for liars. This is very bad time for extremists as well. So regardless of your fake accusations I am very happy to hear good news from some people, high ranking officials in Serbia who ACCEPT the reality and stop being victims of extremists like PEN, you and some other alike.

      In fact, being in constant accusation from extremists is a huge honor.

  12. PEN

    @Lt Rinas.

    Permit me to suggest that ‘fadil’ has finally admitted to everybody here what I thought all along. He actually enjoys provoking people by labelling them ‘extremist’ etc. etc. in order to perpetually drag the conversation down into his gutter. People who actually have something to say are constantly being side-tracked wasting time bickering with a silly fool. As TransConflict are unwilling or unable to shut him and ‘mirel’ up for once and for all, (who by the way are demeaning their website in the process) and as we obviously enjoy reading articles here, may I propose we treat him with the contempt he deserves in future. In other words like a child starve him of the attention he craves, and completely ignore him. Engaging his sort only pulls everyone else down. Agreed?

  13. I am always astonished about the bad name that “Republika Srpska” has. In my opinion the main obstacle for ethnic reconciliation in Bosnia has not been the RS but the relentless drive to have it abolished. It kept the wounds open.

    Advocates of the abolishment of the RS believe that without the RS there would be a harmonious Bosnia without ethnic borders. But that harmonious Bosnia – if it ever was – was destroyed with the independent declaration of Bosnia and and would take care to rebuild. It might work but the result might just as well have been the same development as we saw in Sarajevo where after the war virtually all Serbs left.

    Dayton provides an alternative model. It gives strong guarantees to all sides and provides from that basis a good starting point to (re)build trust. If well implemented it could open the way for a focus on human rights. Unfortunately Dayton was attacked from the very beginning and as a consequence the energy that could have been invested in refugee returns and better relations was invested in a discussion about the RS instead.

    That brings me to Kosovo. As I see it the main problem is that you cannot outlaw discrimination and the only way you can do something against it is by giving the people who are discriminated real power. Given the high level of discrimination in Kosovo a considerable autonomy for the North is needed.

    1. Fadil

      @Wim Roffel,

      Kosovo authorities accepted to “discriminate” Serbs but of course – POSITIVELY so Serbs in Kosovo have some SPECIAL rights. For example an Albanian in Kosovo must have some 7,000 to 10,000 votes for one seat at Kosovo Assembly while 10 Serbs (out of 120) can be elected without a single vote since they have reserved seats. Serbs, of course, may have more seats based on their turnout in elections. Serbs in Kosovo may establish a new municipality with just few thousands of people having more power than Kosovo capital Pristina with more than 200,000 inhabitants. Serbs have rights in educational system (all levels) and medical services (primary and secondary level). Just to compare, Pristina manages just primary level in medical services. Serbian is official language throughout Kosovo regardless on whether Serbs live in certain areas or not.

      Serbs in Kosovo have VETO POWER in decision making bodies such as Kosovo Assembly so nobody can change Kosovo Constitution or laws that could affects any rights of Serbs an other minor communities. Serbs have reserved ministerial positions in Kosovo government as well. Kosovo government went even farther giving to Serbs position of deputy prime minister.

      So actually Albanians are the most discriminated group although accepted this with full consent.

      I see, you are making another discrimination i.e being proponent of smaller group of Serbs in Kosovo (northern Kosovo) although yet nobody explained why Serbs in northern Kosovo deserve more autonomy then those in the south while northerners are the last group in planet Earth do deserve it since they caused suffering to the others and not anybody to them!!!

      Some would say that this is in paper! Yes it is in paper and many Serbs started to use what is written in paper. Nobody can stop ALL the Serbs using that. Nobody is preventing Serbs in northern Kosovo to use such benefits. Its absolutely up to them.

      1. Fadil. Don’t you understand or don’t you want to understand?

        Discrimination is about not getting a fair deal in the court of law. It is about being harassed by police. It is about having a property conflict with your Albanian neighbor and for many years not being able to get your right. Etc. Etc.

        And it also making complaints about it and then getting the kind of comments that you provide.

        1. Fadil

          @Wim Roffel,

          I understand you perfectly as you don’t understand that for matters of inter ethnic character, Kosovo judges don’t deal with such cases but international ones. Secondly how many cases you have so Kosovo police harassed Serbs??? Could you number more than fingers of one hand??? Very difficult.

          Even for property claims of inter ethnic character, internationals are those who deal with such cases so why one like you would blame Kosovo authorities for discriminating Serbs, in negative??!!!

          Actually its impossible to find any place in planet Earth of tolerance against minority group as Kosovo authorities do. Take for example municipal building in Strpce and you can see there Serbian flag waving there. Go to Gracanica (close to Pristina) at health care facilities and you see there Serbian flag plus a table above the main entrance reading in Cyrillic “Republic of Serbia, autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohia”. Do you think that Kosovo police can’t ho and remove such provoking table there?? Of course Kosovo police can do that. Can you imagine that Albanians in Presevo or Bujanovac can do similar things??? Not at all. Then you see what is discrimination in reality.

  14. PEN

    @Wim Roffel

    I concur with your observations wholeheartedly. The ethnic checks and balances in place when Bosnia was a part of Yugoslavia were destroyed, when Izetbegovic attempted to grab power by deliberately forcing the Bosnian Serbs into a corner. He knew what would happen next, but pushed on regardless. Provoke a war, then get the West on side irrespective of the carnage it causes your people. That’s been the defining characteristic of the Yugoslav wars. The Federation in Bosnia has been a disaster. The concept of victimhood and wallowing in self pity trump all efforts to move forward. The RS isn’t perfect by any means, but at least it functions and has attracted investments. The same goes for Kosovo. A vicious terrorist group swept to power on NATO’s coat-tails, persecuting the remaining Serbs ever since. Are the ordinary Albanians of Kosovo better off languishing under the despotic rule of a mafia clan? I doubt it. The Serbs of Kosovo will not be ruled by the warlords in Pristina. Only cast iron autonomy with executive powers over the judiciary, police, health, and education will suffice.

Leave a Reply