First session on Kosovo in the Serbian Assembly in six years: the most important issue or the President’s reality show?

FOTO: Skupština Srbije/KoSSev
FOTO: Skupština Srbije/KoSSev

A parliamentary session on Kosovo will be held on Monday for the first time in six years. This is despite the fact that the Serbian state’s leadership repeatedly claims that the issue of Kosovo is a vital state issue.

According to some of the opposition, the session is another „reality show“ of Aleksandar Vucic and „bait“ to bring the opposition back to parliament. They announced they would also boycott Monday’s session.

The Serbian opposition have been boycotting parliamentary sessions since February, as they claimed the parliament was rendered meaningless. This is due to the ruling SNS, along with its partners, who are blamed for alleged usurpation of the parliament. Furthermore, the opposition claimed the ruling parties conducted verbal and institutional violence against any differing opinions.

On the other hand, parliamentary speaker Maja Gojkovic described their decision as a lack of “political responsibility towards the citizens who voted for them,” adding that this shows they have “no stance on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.”

In addition to Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, all ministers, the Head of the Kosovo office, Marko Djuric, most of the parliament’s deputies will also be present at the session scheduled for 16h.

The President of Serbia announced that he would present a report of the Kosovo Office on the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as respond to all questions. Vucic emphasized that he will talk about the events at the recently held Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church „in detail“ and about the testimony of Bishop Grigorije, which he previously referred to as “falsehood.”

The Alliance for Serbia, which announced that it would not attend the session, stated that attending the session would be a violation of the agreement reached with the people.

They reminded that they left the parliament because „the regime abolished the democratic principles and foundations of parliamentarism.“

“No deputy from the opposition will come (to the session),” one of the leaders of this alliance, Dragan Djilas claimed.

His colleague and the president of the People’s Party, Vuk Jeremic initially stated that his party would consider participating in this session if they receive the material on time. The Kosovo Office, however, failed to provide any material – a move Jeremic described as „scandalous.“

„It is shocking and it completely shows the superficiality and negligence this government has been exhibiting for years when it comes to the Kosovo issue, especially in the context of the negotiation process,“ he said.

„There are only five pages of a report written for six years of negotiations, which do not include any discussion on the proposal that President Vucic said he did not receive support, neither from the international nor of the local public,“ Jeremic said.

Other opposition parties such as Dosta Je Bilo, Dveri, and the Otadzbina movement announced that they also would not take part in the session scheduled for Monday, claiming that it is just an abuse of power and a reality show.

The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), which will also not be attending the session, reminded that there has been no debate to reach a social consensus on Kosovo, adding that it is, however, ready to take part in any future debate „if the government abandons the delimitation policy and stops trampling on the Constitution with its declarations and actions.“

According to the president of the Social Democratic Party (SDS), Boris Tadic, the presence of the opposition at the session on Kosovo would mean „the exculpation“ of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for a seven-year non-transparent Kosovo policy and the abolition of dialogue in society.

Tadic further claimed that the session is nothing but “manipulation” and “propaganda.”

On the other hand, the ruling parties and their coalition partners, but also part of the opposition, such as the LDP and the LSV parties, announced their participation in the session.

Parliament Speaker, Maja Gojkovic shared her belief that the President, the government and the Head of the Kosovo Office will carefully listen to any possible solution proposals presented during the debate.

SNS official, Marija Obradovic said in an interview with Belgrade-based Blic that it is important for the opposition to participate, adding that, to her, it „seems“ that they are not interested.

„They are currently drawing attention with their absence, but it has no effect in the long run, especially as the accompanying actions, such as protests and walks, have failed. Opposition MPs have different opinions, many want to return to parliament, but Djilas, Vuk (Jeremic) and Bosko (Obradovic) threatened them with retribution,“ Obradovic said.

At the same time, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic claimed that the session on Kosovo is not a „trick.“

„When I go to talk with representatives of the SPC, they say – ‘what are you doing talking to the church, you should go to parliament’. Then I say that I will come to parliament, to answer the questions, to submit a report, and then they say it’s a trick. What kind of trick?“ he said.

The President reiterated that he will be present at the parliamentary session and that he will answer any questions.

Even though both the government and the opposition repeatedly claim that Kosovo is the most important issue, the last session on this issue was held back in 2013. It was held in April of that year, immediately after the signing of the now-famous „First Agreement on a Comprehensive Normalization of Relations between Kosovo and Serbia,“ otherwise known as the Brussels Agreement. The invitation for that session read „The report on the current process of EU-mediated political and technical dialogue with the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina.“ An overwhelming majority of the parliament, including some of the opposition members who announced their boycott of the Monday session, 173 MPs in total, voted for this report, which was publicly interpreted as a ratification of the Brussels Agreement. There were only 24 votes against and one abstention, while five MPs refrained from voting.

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