Kosovo rejects Western call to conduct Serbian referendum

Kosovo has rejected a call from Western governments to permit its minority Serbs to vote in a Serbian referendum in the identical approach as prior to now a number of years

A joint assertion by Kosovo’s high authorities stated the Serbs can solid ballots solely by way of mail or at a liaison workplace, without following the previous observe of establishing voting stations in Serb-dominated areas.

Kosovo legal guidelines “don’t acknowledge the precise of 1 state to maintain a referendum within the sovereign territory of one other state,” stated a press release from Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani’s workplace. “The practices utilized thus far since 2012 have been unconstitutional.”

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The choice is probably going additional pressure relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a transfer that Belgrade has refused to acknowledge.

A delegation of Kosovo Serbs on Friday mentioned the problem in Belgrade with Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic.

The referendum on Sunday focuses on amendments that Serbia’s authorities says would increase the independence of the Balkan nation’s judiciary as a part of reforms wanted for the nation to transfer nearer to European Union membership.

“We observe with remorse that the Kosovo authorities has not allowed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to acquire ballots of eligible voters residing in Kosovo for the upcoming referendum in accordance with previous observe,” stated the assertion by the Western powers.

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“We call on the Kosovo authorities to permit Serbs in Kosovo to train their proper to vote in elections and electoral processes in accordance with this established observe,” it added.

Serbia has insisted that Kosovo stays a part of the nation, regardless of its declaration of independence following a 1998-99 battle that killed some 13,000 and ended after NATO bombed Serbia to cease its crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.

Serbia has maintained a powerful affect in Serb-dominated areas of Kosovo though it formally has no authority within the territory because it was compelled to relinquish management in 1999. Tens of hundreds of Serbs reside in Kosovo, largely within the north, subsequent to Serbia.

In a press release issued after a gathering of high officers with the ambassadors of the 5 Western international locations and the EU, Kosovo’s president, Parliament speaker Glauk Konjufca and Prime Minister Albin Kurti insisted that “the problem isn’t the position of the OSCE, however the position of Serbia and its parallel and unlawful constructions in Kosovo.”

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The assertion added that “prior to OSCE assortment of the votes, a very unlawful technique of opening of polling stations and poll packing containers within the territory of the Republic of Kosovo for a referendum of one other state, particularly Serbia, could be held.”

The dispute between Serbia and Kosovo stays a reason behind tensions within the Balkans. EU-mediated negotiations aimed toward normalizing relations have produced little progress, though each Kosovo and Serbia have been instructed to resolve their variations so as to transfer ahead of their bids to be a part of the EU.

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Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this story.

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