Hovenier after meeting with Kurti: Force should not be used to enter municipal buildings when mayor takes the oath

Ambasador SAD Džef Hovenijer Intervju

After a telephone conversation with a senior advisor of the State Department yesterday, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, met today with the US Ambassador to Pristina, Jeffrey Hovenier, ahead of the swearing-in of the newly elected mayor of North Mitrovica scheduled for Friday.

After meeting with Kurti, the US ambassador once again underlined that conflicts and actions that could increase tensions in the north must be avoided.

Addressing the swearing-in of the newly elected mayors, Hovenier said that the US does not consider it a good idea to forcefully enter municipal buildings, reports Pristina-based Koha.

„Conflicts and actions that could increase tensions in the north should be avoided. We don’t believe it’s a good idea to use force to gain access to buildings that may not be accessible at all,“ he said.

On the ASM: Pristina to present a vision and form the ASM in accordance with the Constitution

When asked about the Kosovo Prime Minister’s vision for solving the issue of the status of Serbs in Kosovo, Hovenier said that the Kosovo government has the responsibility to urgently proceed with the negotiations, and then form the ASM.

„We reiterated several times that ideas should be put on the table, and that we know what the vision is. We want this process to progress. We often said things that Prime Minister Kurti also said. We do not want the Association to be contrary to the Constitution of Kosovo. We have clearly presented our version. But it is important that Kosovo also puts its ideas on the table,“ he said.

The April 23rd elections in the north of Kosovo, which were boycotted by local Serbs, with a turnout of only around 3%, led to the victory of representatives of minority communities – the PDK and Self-Determination parties, in these Serb-majority municipalities. Two new municipal assemblies were also elected, comprised almost exclusively of ethnic Albanians.

Erdan Atic, from the Self-Determination party, won the race for mayor in North Mitrovica. On May 12, the North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly scheduled a session for May 19th, at which the newly elected mayor is set to be sworn in.

At the same time, announcements arrived from Pristina that the elected heads of municipalities will enter office in other municipalities within the legally defined period.

On the other hand, official Belgrade expressed concern over new tensions due to the „invasion“ of the municipalities and the „occupation of the north“.

With the exception of North Mitrovica, where there is a separate municipal building, in the remaining three, the two municipal leaderships – in the Kosovo and Serbian systems, were located in the same building until the Serbs left the institutions.

The US ambassador also said yesterday that new officials should only enter buildings where they are welcome, and that the location of the municipalities where the oaths are taken does not affect the status of the officials. Hovenier also said that due to the boycott of the elections by the Serbs, i.e. the low turnout, the US expects the newly elected mayors of municipalities and municipal assemblies to assume a technical role – not a political one.

On the same night, the newly elected mayor of Zubin Potok, Izmir Zeqiri, said that he, as well as other newly elected mayors, coordinate their activities with all factors, including the US Embassy in Pristina, noting that not everyone will be sworn in on the same day.

Just a day later, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic shared different allegations.

„Tomorrow, they will try to hold constitutive sessions for three municipalities and to elect fake mayors in the municipal building in North Mitrovica, supported by the Quint countries in the fakest and the most shameful and pathetic elections held anywhere in the world, with an average turnout of 3.4%,“ said the Serbian President.

When asked about these allegations – will other newly elected mayors, i.e. councilors from other municipalities, take the oath tomorrow in the North Mitrovica municipal building – the deputy chairman of this body, Skender Sadiku, told KoSSev that he does not have that information. Sadiku reminded that the session was convened for the swearing-in ceremony of Erden Atic.

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