19 September 2007

Belgrade demands increased jurisdiction for Serb municipalities in Kosovo-Metohija


Source: Government of Serbia
Date: 27 Feb 2007

Vienna, Feb 27, 2008 - Coordinator of the Serbian state team for talks on Kosovo-Metohija's future status Slobodan Samardzic stated that today, just as many times before, Belgrade has put forth a plethora of objections to UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari's proposal regarding the province's decentralisation.

Following the morning talks in Vienna, which focused on financing and jurisdictions of the province's municipalities, Samardzic told the press that Ahtisaari's plan does not envisage special jurisdiction for Serb municipalities, which is what Belgrade demands.

He recalled that last spring, during nine rounds of negotiations, there was talk of six groups of jurisdictions for municipalities which Ahtisaari cleverly evaded in his proposal and instead only proposed some special rights.

Namely, he proposed that the University in Kosovska Mitrovica remains, as well as the right of Serbian municipalities to three hospitals, which rounds up the circle of these special rights or jurisdictions, said Samardzic.

"We think that what is given to Serbs resembles the privileges issued by local rulers in the Middle Ages to certain areas and which the ruler had the right to withdraw. In the modern sense of words, these are by no means unalienable and constitutionally guaranteed rights", explained the coordinator.

He also specified that Belgrade's position implies that whatever Serbia demands should be guaranteed by the agreement being discussed in Vienna, as well as by the constitution. In other words legislation must not be allowed to annul or degrade these rights, he added.

As for municipal financing, Samardzic said that Belgrade demands increased financing of Serbian municipalities in line with their expanded jurisdictions.

According to Samardzic, municipalities must have larger income sources than proposed by UNOSEK and Belgrade insists on a special formula for the distribution of assistance on behalf of provincial organs, which the ethnic Albanian delegation did not accept.

The Serbian team's coordinator Leon Kojen said that the Belgrade team began a discussion on local police and asked for much wider and coherent authority in this sector.

Kojen stressed that Belgrade demanded that the law on police be adopted only with the agreement of the majority of Serbian parliament members in the province's parliament, namely, that heads of local police be chosen at local municipal assemblies.

"It is also very important that we demanded that provincial or special police forces may not enter the territory of Serbian municipalities unless they fulfill special conditions which will be duly presented", stressed Kojen.

Talks on decentralisation will resume at the afternoon session which will focus on inter-connectedness of Serbian municipalities and their number.