Serbia proposes division of Kosova

Serbia’s minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, has proposed the ethnic division of Kosova to the UN mission in the disputed territory, a Belgrade newspaper reports. The key point of the accord offered to the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is to create “the functional separation of Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo,” Samardzic told the pro-government daily Politika. “We accept the [UN Security Council] Resolution 1244 and authority of UNMIK police, judiciary and customs, but after the unilateral proclamation of independence, only Serbs, aided by Serbia, could carry that out,” Samardzic, a member of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica’s party, was quoted as saying. He told Politika the proposal referred to all Serb-populated areas of Kosovo, and not only the northern Serb stronghold including the flashpoint town of Kosovska Mitrovica.

“If they want peace and stability, they have to reach a sustainable agreement, and not only to extinguish fire with violence every two days,” said Samardzic. Since Kosova’s Albanian-dominated parliament declared independence Feb. 17, local Serbs have incited a series of violent incidents in the territory’s north. In the worst such incident on March 17, a Ukrainian member of the UN police force was killed and more than 150 people—including 64 international security officials—were injured.

Samardzic’s decision to present the proposal to UNMIK official Larry Rossin without informing coalition partners led to a stormy cabinet session in Belgrade last week. But Samardzic told Politika the proposal was part of an action plan “adopted by the government on January 14.”

According to Kosovo’s independent daily Express, which published the draft, the key demands are related to police, judiciary and customs control. “Serb police officers are accountable to local Serb authorities and under executive command of the police of UNMIK,” read the first article of the proposal, the paper reported. The proposal states that “Kosovo Serbs have the right to govern their judiciary matters” and “to establish their own customs authority” in case the government in Pristina “imposes barriers” to free trade with Serbia. (AFP, March 23)

See our last post on Kosova.