01 February 2006

Kosovo-Metohija decentralisation issue needs concrete solutions



Source: Government of Serbia

Date: 14 Jan 2006


Belgrade, Jan 14, 2006 - In an interview for today's edition of the daily Politika, Aleksandar Simic, advisor to the Serbian Prime Minister and member of Serbia's and Serbia-Montenegro's negotiating team on the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, said that the country hopes that the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for negotiations on the status of Kosovo-Metohija Martti Ahtisaari, and his deputy Albert Rohan, will use all their competence, knowledge and skills to ensure that talks on the future status of Serbia's southern province, which officially begin on January 25 in Vienna, be a successful dialogue between the two parties, out of which some concrete solutions to the decentralisation issue would emerge, before all the criteria for formation of new municipalities with Serb and ethnic Albanian majority and distribution of authority, which would guarantee a safe and normal life to Serbs and other non-Albanians in the province.


The Serbian government's official website gives excerpts of the interview.


Belgrade's platform for talks on the future status on Kosovo-Metohija says that the parliament of Kosovo will be able to pass decisions and laws regulating areas of vital importance for the Serbs in the province only if a majority of Serbian MPs vote for them. Will ethnic Albanians accept such a regulation in the Kosovo-Metohija constitution?


This position of the Serbian party is not something that is new for ethnic Albanians. Back in 2001, I was in a team drafting the Legal Framework of Kosovo-Metohija, which was subsequently renamed the Constitutional Framework. It was then that I demanded this provision should enter the Constitutional Framework as a safeguard for Serbs against ethnic Albanian outvoting. However, the demand was rejected. As a consequence, we are now witnessing difficult position of Serbs in the province and violation of their rights. It is time the rights of Serbs and other non-ethnic Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija be respected.


The platform suggests that international judges remain in higher courts in the province:


The situation in the judiciary in Kosovo is bad, which was also confirmed in the report of UN Special Envoy for the implementation of standards in Kosovo-Metohija Kai Eide. Higher courts should employ international judges, but Serbian judges as well. This is of prime importance since these courts will process appeals on decisions reached by municipal courts in litigations in which Serbs are involved. It is unacceptable that only ethnic Albanian judges consider the appeals.


Does the Serbian party still insist on the position that Kosovo-Metohija should exercise wide autonomy within Serbia?


By all means. That is the key position in the platform. In that respect, Serbia's negotiating team remains consistent.


When will the first three parts of the platform become known to the public?


Following the meeting in Vienna, our negotiation team will decide how and when the first three parts of the platform will be published. These chapters concern the international aspect of resolving the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, position of Kosovo-Metohija as a province with wide authority within Serbia, rights of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Serbia, as well as rights of Serbs and other non-ethnic Albanians in the province.