Vucic and Kurti discuss the ASM in their respective assemblies

FOTO: Kallxo/Beta (Miloš Miškov)

The Serbian Parliament Special Session on Kosovo is being held in Belgrade today, attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. At the same time, the parliament in Pristina also gathered its MPs and Prime Minister Albin Kurti. In their speeches, both Vucic and Kurti discussed the topic of the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities. While Vucic stressed that there is „nothing left to agree and negotiate“ on this issue, adding that he is afraid the other side still refuses to establish this body, Kurti listed six conditions in order for the ASM to be formed.

The special session of the Serbian Parliament on the negotiation process with Pristina started at 10 am.

The Serbian president gave the opening speech. While presenting the Kosovo Office’s report, he mentioned the topic of the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities – an agreement reached within the Brussels dialogue which Pristina still refuses to establish, despite intensified calls from the international community, especially the US.

Vucic pointed out today that an agreement was made to fulfil obligations from the Brussels Agreement, noting that the Kosovo side still refuses to form the ASM. He underlined that the ASM cannot be an NGO.

„The Association of Serb-majority Municipalities must be what was signed in Brussels – the First agreement was signed, whose first 6 points focus on the formation and functioning, then we have the implementation agreement, then the Principles based on which the ASM is formed – 22 principles with very important competencies, very important in the south and we have an agreement on the management team.“

In his words, there is nothing more to negotiate and discuss regarding the issue because these obligations have already been accepted. On the other hand, he expressed concern that Pristina would try to negotiate again „to cut down the competencies of the ASM“.

„They are not ready to implement what they signed. This will be the cause and reason for new problems, but it is of great importance for us because the situation will be different after this – with the police in the north because the Serbs will not return to the institutions before then. The situation on the ground will become much easier to control, and our people will be much safer,“ said Vucic.

On the other hand, also at 10 o’clock, the session of the Kosovo Assembly began in Pristina. Despite Pristina’s negotiations with Belgrade not being on the agenda, Kurti also spoke about the ASM. For the first time, he listed his conditions under which this body can be formed.

Speaking about the previous meetings organized by US officials, Kurti stated that he continuously emphasized his commitment to reaching an agreement based on the Franco-German proposal as soon as possible: „I am ready to contribute with maximum constructiveness.“

The tenth point of the proposal refers to the implementation of the agreements, including the one on the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities, the Kosovo PM added.

He reiterated that any preconditions for progress are „meaningless,“ arguing that before the Association, which developed from the agreement led by Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, is formed, six conditions must be met:

1. The association must be made in accordance with the Constitution and the laws in force.
2. The association cannot be mono-ethnic, it must change its name, it cannot have a board, it must serve only horizontal cooperation between municipalities, according to the Law on Local Self-Government.
3. The rights of national minorities and appropriate protection mechanisms must strengthen the principle of reciprocity between two countries and take into account European standards and models.
4. Before the establishment of the Association, the illegal structures in the north should be extinguished and all illegal weapons should be surrendered.
5. The association is part of the final agreement and is implemented after mutual recognition.
6. The President of Serbia withdraws the letters sent to the five EU countries regarding Kosovo’s non-application to the EU, which violates the agreement of April 19th, 2013.

Kurti was still criticized by the opposition due to the ASM. Not once did he mention today that he would completely reject the Association, prompting the opposition MPs to claim that today is the day Kurti decided to accept this body, but that he now faces the problem of how to explain it to the MPs.

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