Remind Yourselves What The ASM Was

Soon it will be five years since the Brussels Agreement was signed, which in essence provided for the dismissal of Serbian-run institutions in Kosovo and integration into the Kosovo system as one, and the creation of the so-called Association/Community of Serb-majority Municipalities on the other side. While these institutions, except health, education and postal services, have been dismissed and integrated, the A/CSM has not yet been created. However, not long ago, the topic has reoccurred in the expectations of the European Union and the U.S. before all, for “Serbia and Kosovo” to enter into a legally binding agreement providing for the “normalization of relations” as soon as possible. All this time the public is being served with contradictory statements in regard to the A/CSM. We remind of the facts about the Association/Community of Serb-majority Municipalities so far.

Six out of 15 points of the First Agreement on Principles for Regulation of the Normalization of Relations pertain to the A/CSM, i.e. Association of Serb-majority Municipalities as it is called in the Western and Kosovo public. The First Agreement, or the so-called Brussels Agreement on the “normalization of relations” between Belgrade and Pristina – as Serbia presents it, and Serbia and Kosovo – as Kosovo and Western public refer to it, was reached in April 2013. In the Brussels Dialogue so far around 30 individual agreements were reached.

Municipal Statutes changed to accommodate A/CSM

In May 2014, the Serb-majority municipalities’ assemblymen amended their municipal statutes even in the article pertaining to organization of the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities.

A sentence from the North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly Statute reading: North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly shall be able to transfer its authorities to the Community of Serb Municipalities, pursuant to the Brussels Agreement, and based on a decision of the North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly has been changed to ”North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly shall reach a decision to cooperate with other municipalities in implementation of its responsibilities within the Community of Serb Municipalities”.

Request for submission of A/CSM Statute

And at the first joint session of the Serb municipalities in KiM on March 18, 2015 it was requested for the submission of “a coordinated Draft Statute of A/CSM” at the next session.

"The Serb community is reaching a decision on a united political action, protection of rights and fulfillment of Serb people’s interest through the creation of a strong Community of Serb Municipalities, and is requesting for the submission of a coordinated Draft Statute of the Community of Serb Municipalities for review at a joint meeting of Municipal Assemblies”, read one of ten conclusions from the session that the Office for KiM Head, Marko Djuric attended too. 

However, back then it was not clarified whom did the Municipalities request submission of the A/CSM Draft Statute from, whether it would have happened by the next joint session, as well as where and when the next joint session of Serb Municipal Assemblies in Kosovo would be held.

Creation of A/CSM announced for Sretenje 2017

Over a year later, by the end of 2016, the creation of A/CSM was announced for Sretenje of the following year.  

"We will not plead to anyone for the implementation of what has been agreed. In case in next few weeks there are no concrete steps taken towards the creation of the CSM, Serb representatives will, in agreement with their state – begin with the creation of CSM on their own starting from [Sretenje], discussing how it should look like, what would be its competences, create institutions that should serve as a precondition for survival and preservation of Serb people in KiM”, conveyed then, the Office for KiM Head, Marko Djuric. 

The then-Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo – Aleksandar Vucic and Isa Mustafa signed a separate agreement of the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities in August 2015.

"I congratulate our people in Kosovo and Metohija for this”, said Vucic after the signing. As oppose to messages of dissatisfaction today, Vucic was conveying optimism back then:

"I think our people have every reason for satisfaction, tonight we are to establish a Association/Community of Serb Municipalities. I believe we can do a lot if we are smart and responsible. I also think we have achieved more and better than we hoped for. Usually these kinds of things are difficult, but I have no bad news for you. I am not unhappy with what has been achieved and I will go to our people in Kosovo and Metohija with joy in September”.

His disciple, the Office for KiM Chief, Marko Djuric, said that: “Serbia scored 5:0”. The Association/Community has not been created yet. An independent creation or declaration of an A/CSM was announced by the ruling Srpska List for April 20, on the fifth anniversary of the Brussels Agreement.

"If Pristina is not going to be ready to commence with work towards the creation of the CSM in the next three weeks, the Serb municipalities and institutions will begin with the creation of the Community, its bodies and institutions on their own. We are ready to work with both Belgrade and Pristina on drafting of the CSM Statute the way it has been envisaged by the Agreement”, the ten Serb-majority municipalities’ representatives stated in their first conclusion at the end of March in Kosovska Mitrovica.

On the Kosovo side, the current Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and President Hashim Thaci have reached, as it was presented to the public, also at the end of March a decision on “reactivating a Working Group on the drafting of a Statute for the Association”. The only thing known is that four Serbs – two from the north and two from the south – will comprise the group.

On December 23, 2015, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo reached a decision emphasizing that the agreement on the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities “is not fully in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo”, and this came five months after the Brussels Agreement was reached. Still, the decision read that “the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities will be established based on the First Agreement that has been ratified by the Parliament of Republic of Kosovo and promulgated by the President of Republic of Kosovo”. It was the then-President Atifete Jahjaga who sent the Agreement to the Constitutional Court for evaluation after a turbulent public debate.

Although the text of the Agreement is one, with three language versions, two leaderships have been conveying different messages to the public. While Pristina mainly claimed that the Association could only be a non-governmental organization, and in no instance could it be a “third level of authority”, “bosniazation of Kosovo”, or a “Republika Srpska in Kosovo”, Serbian officials in turn claimed that the A/CSM would represent autonomy for the Serb population in Kosovo. 

"Pursuant to Kosovo laws” is being mentioned a number of times in the text of the Agreement. We bring two points here, taken from the Office for KiM website, while translation from English language version that our web portal conducted immediately after the signing in 2015 can be found HERE.

14)  The Association/Community shall have legal capacity that pursuant to the Kosovo laws is needed to accomplish its goals, including the right on mobile and immobile property; co-own companies providing local services from the scope of Association/Community, as well as to enter into contracts, including labor contracts.

20) The Association/Community shall be entitled to its official symbols (herald and flag) pursuant to the Kosovo laws.

In the latest dispute of interpretations, Belgrade authorities claim that before the creation of A/CSM there should be amendments made to both Belgrade’s and Pristina’s legislation; the A/CSM will be created pursuant to the Brussels Agreement, and not the laws and Constitution of Kosovo. Pristina on the other side conveys that the decision of Kosovo’s Constitutional Court will be respected, therefore an independent creation of the Association will not have legitimacy.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is in Berlin today. He talks to Angela Merkel.

Before his trip to Germany, already in a series of pessimistic statements, the Serbian President said:

"But, they are a power that be, and we are small, whether I will succeed, I don’t know”.

"There is no a single person that can say that Serbia did not solve the issue of regional police in the north, justice and judiciary, the issue of telecommunications. And all these were painful to us, but we have solved it all. Is there anyone who can say that the issue of the Community of Serb Municipalities has been solved? For five years the only thing that Serbia is supposed to get has not moved an inch”, he conveyed in Belgrade yesterday after meeting with the French Foreign Minister.

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