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Vucic Meeting With Kosovo Serbs Foments Protests

Vucic Meeting With Kosovo Serbs Foments Protests

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Kosovo Serbs will protests against the government for allegedly not allowing the opening of polling stations for Serbian elections of April 3, following a Belgrade meeting with representatives of Kosovo Serbs called by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

The participation of Kosovo Serb Judge Ljiljana Stevanovic of  the Basic Court of Mitrovica in a meeting focused on Serbia’s response to Kosovo, besides the usual Belgrade-controlled Kosovo Serb politicians, has raised concerns on the court’s independence.

The Kosovo Serb judge’s participation on Tuesday in a meeting called by the leader of another country, which additionally doesn’t recognize Kosovo, has raised further fears that Serbia may be using the international situation after the Russian invasion of Ukraine to provoke a conflict in Kosovo, by agitating Kosovo Serbs against the government through the local political party Lista Srpska controlled by Belgrade. This conflict would be similar to that caused in Bosnia and Herzegovina by Vucic and Putin protégé Milorak Dodik.

The Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC) is evaluatin Judge Stevanovic’s participation in the meeting, the President of the Supreme Court of Kosovo, Enver Peci notified the press as reported by RFE.

Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu had earlier called on the KJC to react to the judge’s action: “Judges and court presidents in the Republic of Kosovo must behave with high moral and professional integrity. The participation in such a meeting violates this integrity,” the minister said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Asked by RFE, Judge Stevanovic declined to comment, arguing she had no time to answer any questions.

On March 22, President Vucic called representatives of Kosovo Serbs to discuss Serbia’s response to what they considered Kosovo’s refusal to allow the opening of polling stations for Serbian elections of April 3.

Vucic said Kosovo Serbs asked him to agree on their withdrawal from all Kosovo institutions but he calmed them down and asked them to wait until after the April elections.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti urged Kosovo Serbs against launching protests in the country’s north regarding the matter, claiming that they are being prepared after meeting with Vucic in Belgrade on Tuesday.  

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vucic’s protégé Milorad Dodik has been threatening the country with dissolution after withdrawing from its institutions in response to a ban on genocide denial imposed in Bosnia.

Kurti had argued that the matter of Serbian elections in Kosovo should be resolved through an agreement between the governments of both countries, but Vucic categorically refused this, arguing that this would amount to Serbia recognizing Kosovo as an independent country, which he stressed will never happen. 

“I have never aimed to bring Serbia’s recognition through this correspondence [between governments]. I have known all along that this can’t be done, but no one can expect from me that I don’t recognize the Republic of Kosovo, our country’s independence,” Kurti argued in a TV interview.

Nevertheless, his government drew criticism from the Quint (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy), who blamed Kosovo for the failure of talks facilitated by the EU, arguing that Serbia had been open to the Quint proposals.

This week, Montenegro also refused to allow for Serbian polling stations in its territory.

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