KOSOVSKA MITROVICA — Kosovska Mitrovica Mayor Krstimir Pantić says he will today start consultations with councillors a possible postponement of a referendum planned for February.

Serbs in northern Kosovo, where they form a majority, wish to use the referendum to confirm their rejection of the authority of the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština.

However, they have been advised by top state officials that such a referendum was not necessary.

“It is possible that a meeting will be held early next week that would be attended by representatives of the Serbian government, who would address representatives of municipalities, so as to demonstrate with a joint meeting that Serbs are not those who wish to collapse the state policy,” said Pantić, according to a Beta news agency report.

But he also added that the referendum, scheduled for February 14 and 15, would not be put off “until someone from the Serbian government shows up and proves with arguments to councilors that it is not needed at this time”.

Pantić explained that procedures put in place in the four municipalities were “proceeding as planned”, and that consultations would continue with heads of councilor groups in local assemblies.

“We mayors are bound by decisions made by our assemblies. We cannot abolish the referendum decision, we’re obligated to respect it, and if our assemblies wish to once again consider this issue, we’re ready to talk about it,” he explained.

The mayor added that it was expected for “someone from Belgrade” to explain why the referendum would not be in line with national and state interests.

Pantić revealed that when they met with Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović in Belgrade on Thursday, the four northern mayors reiterated their position that the voting should take place, that it would not run contrary to the Constitution or against national and state interests, but that they were “ready to hear arguments of top state officials.”

The Kosovska Mitrovica mayor concluded by saying that Serbs in northern Kosovo “do not wish to hold the Serbian citizens hostage to the four municipalities in Kosovo”.

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