Hovenier on the draft statute: I am confused by the amount of criticism, Kosovo should form the ASM

The United States of America welcomes constructive feedback regarding the proposed draft statute for the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, however, I am a little confused by the amount of commentary and criticism about this effort, US Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier said in South Mitrovica today. He emphasized that „we also cannot be so stuck on the specifics to lose momentum and the importance of moving forward with the Association“.

The US ambassador in Pristina once again underlined that Kosovo has undertaken to form the ASM.

„The United States of America believes that it is an obligation of Kosovo to establish an Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities… Last night, the European Union and its Council Conclusions restated that the Government of Kosovo should move forward with that (forming the ASM),“ said Hovenier.

On the other hand, he also reiterated the position of the US when it comes to the authorities and responsibilities that this body should have.

„The US position has been clear. We believe that the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities should be consistent with Kosovo’s current constitution, should be consistent with the Constitutional Court’s decision, that it should not be the third layer of government and that it should not have executive authorities. We don’t want another Republika Srpska, we don’t want something that would negatively affect the good functioning of the state of Kosovo,“ the ambassador underlined.

He also referred to the draft statute for the ASM, which was handed to the Prime Minister of Kosovo by the Western Five – Miroslav Lajčak and the representatives of Germany, France, Italy and the US.

„That draft statute represented all of our governments’ views to how best to do this,“ said the ambassador.

While he welcomes feedback, he also claims to be confused by the avalanche of criticism.

„While we welcome constructive feedback, I’m a little bit puzzled by so much commentary and criticism of this effort,“ Hovenier stated.

Asked about whether the draft statute is subject to change, Hovenier says that it is a question for the EU envoy, Miroslav Lajčak.

„I believe that Lajčak has told the Government of Kosovo and others that he is open to feedback, but I believe Mr. Lajčak and his team with the support rom the US and others, worked closely on this draft to ensure that it meets all of the requirements that I have laid out. I think the question is whether there is room for progress – possibly, but we also cannot be so stuck on the specifics to lose momentum and the importance of moving forward with the Association,“ he underlined.

He called on Pristina to start the first steps towards the formation of the ASM as soon as possible, and forward the draft statute to the Constitutional Court.

„We think the focus should be on how Kosovo can move forward with seeing this draft adopted and moved to the Constitutional Court, if there are questions about its constitutionality… there is only one body that is capable of making that determination what conforms with the Constitution of Kosovo and what does not – that is the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo, but we believe that we should move forward and move forward quickly,“ he said.

To all those who talk about the importance of coordinating with the USA, the West and the European Union, he says:

„They should look closely at the fact that this draft has come from all of Kosovo’s friends.“

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