The Americans give proposals on how the Association in Kosovo can function, Kurti is silent

The Americans have proposed to Albin Kurti’s government models that they believe could work for the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities. Ambassador Jeff Hovenier said they encouraged the government to consider them. This was reiterated by the Special Envoy, Gabriel Escobar.

The Kosovo government has chosen to remain silent in front of the ‘elephant in the room’ as it has not answered the newspaper’s questions about what models have been proposed to them by the US and whether they will consider them. Isa Mustafa, Lutfi Haziri and Visar Ymeri spoke to the Express newspaper about this issue.

The issue of the Association has returned to the discourse of Kosovar politics these days after the statements of the US Ambassador Jeff Hovenier who said that the US believes that in Kosovo there should be an Association of Serb-majority municipalities.

But, as he revealed his country’s position, the American diplomat took care to remove the concerns of the Kosovar leadership and public. Hovenier has done this by revealing his experience in the Vienna talks where he decided on the provisions of the Ahtisaari package on this issue.

“In Ahtisaari’s time, no one had in mind something that would have another layer of government, something with executive functions, something that… I am aware of concerns about another Republika Srpska. No one is interested in that. This does not help Kosovo. “It is not useful,” he said.

Gazeta Express has asked the Government of Kosovo about the proposals that the Americans have suggested, but has not received an answer. The office of the head of state, Vjosa Osmani, did not comment on this issue either.

In December last year in Brussels, when High Representative Josep Borell mentioned this topic to Albin Kurti, there was a clash between them

“I am afraid that this Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities is more in the service of Belgrade than the poor Serb citizens of Kosovo, whom I serve as the Prime Minister of our republic,” said Kurti while mentioning to Borelli the decision of the Constitutional Court on Association.

Borell said he disagreed with Kurt’s position.

“I do not agree with you that the Constitutional Court makes the implementation of this agreement impossible. “I am sorry, Prime Minister, but we must seek the implementation of this agreement,” said Kurti.

The Express newspaper spoke with Lutfi Haziri, responsible for dialogue and regional cooperation from the LDK, who says that the models proposed by the Americans for the Association are not outside the 2013 Agreement negotiated in Brussels.

“There is nothing special outside of what was discussed in Brussels, ie the first agreement signed in 2013, without being touched by the Constitutional Court. It remains to be seen, the visit is at the beginning of next week, it remains with all that eventually exists, but I am believing that the document as such has not come out of the Brussels Agreement “, said Haziri for Express.

Even the opinionist Visar Ymeri claims that the proposed models may be similar to the 2013 Agreement.

“I find it impossible to know what models are proposed. However, I do not believe that they are far and far outside the framework set by the First Agreement of 2013, this ratified in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo in 2013 and then confirmed through the judgment of the Constitutional Court of December 2015 “, said Ymeri for the Express Newspaper.

Former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, speaking to Express, says that he can not know what modalities the Americans proposed but that during his time as chief executive there were modalities contained and agreed with the then agreements.

“As far as Americans are concerned, I do not give myself the right to say what their modalities are. “I can only say what they were at the time when I was prime minister, which are contained and agreed in the agreements then”, said Mustafa.

Haziri, who was one of the main actors in the Vienna talks, said that it is necessary for Prime Minister Albin Kurti to work closely with the Americans after the dynamisation of their role and the first visit to Kosovo of the Special Envoy, Escobar.

“Cooperation with the US government [of the Kosovo government] at a time when they are dynamising their role in the Balkans must necessarily be close and in close partnership. “The arrival of Escobar for the first time as the Special Representative of the United States, gives new dynamics and hope to the dialogue”, said Haziri.

But the former chairman of VV, Visar Ymeri, is skeptical, estimating that Prime Minister Kurti has not changed his position on any possibility of implementing any possible version of the Association.

“Until now, the Government and the Prime Minister have been completely opposed to any possibility of implementing any version of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities. “So far there is no public indication that they have changed their position in this regard,” he said.

Ymeri says abstaining from dialogue will cost Kosovo dearly.

“I think that the Government of the Republic of Kosovo should take the dialogue process seriously and use all the opportunities that have been created for us through the much more determined involvement of the United States to conclude the dialogue process and pave the way for new international subjectivisation of Kosovo. In this regard, the Government of the Republic and especially Prime Minister Kurti must outline their principled and strategic position on Kosovo’s positions in dialogue and how they intend to resolve the issues discussed there. “I think abstaining from dialogue will cost Kosovo a lot”, said Ymeri.

To bring Kosovo and Serbia back to the dialogue table, the US and the EU have engaged their special envoys Gabriel Escobar and Miroslav Lajcak, who will stay in Pristina and Belgrade early next week.

Gabriel Escobar confirmed what the US Ambassador to Pristina, Jeff Hovenier, said, that they had proposed to the Kosovo government models of how the Association might function and encouraged them to consider them.

“We expect both Kosovo and Serbia to respect previous commitments. The Government of Kosovo has pledged to have an Association of Serb-majority municipalities (AKS). The United States does not and will not dictate what this Association should do or what its competencies should be; this is a sovereign decision that the government of Kosovo must take. There are many models that work, including multiple models that would allow better local coordination without another level of government or executive power. “We urge the Kosovo government to carefully consider these models,” Escobar told the online newspaper ‘Reporter’ yesterday.

To work closely with Escobar and Hovenier, Prime Minister Kurti commissioned US chief diplomat Antony Blinken in a letter he sent two weeks ago.

The US foreign policy chief in his letter expressed the view that they expect to cooperate with Prime Minister Kurti to implement President Biden’s agenda, including the delayed Kosovo-Serbia agreement with a focus on mutual recognition.

Blinken’s letter, the head of the government Albin Kurti in slightly sarcastic tones responding to the criticism has considered it good and that it is worth re-reading.

In the first Brussels Agreement of 2013, on the principles governing relations between Kosovo and Serbia, the first six points refer to the Association of Serb-majority municipalities.

It is written in that agreement that this Association will be established on the basis of the statute and that its dissolution can be done only by decision of the participating municipalities.


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