US diplomat assures Kosovo that new draft of association of Serb municipalities offers no autonomy

Nov 9, 2023, 5:40 AM

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The U.S. ambassador urged Kosovo’s government on Thursday to proceed with establishing an association of its Serb majority towns in order to unblock European Union-facilitated normalization talks with Serbia.

U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey M. Hovenier said “there is no reason for the government of Kosovo not to move forward with this draft statute.”

Normalization talks between Kosovo and Serbia have failed to make progress, particularly following a September shootout between masked Serb gunmen and Kosovo police that left four people dead and ratcheted up tensions in the region.

The EU and the United States are pressing both countries to implement agreements that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti reached earlier this year.

During a trip to the region at the end of last month, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Kosovo to establish an Association of the Serb-Majority Municipalities and pushed Serbia to deliver “de facto recognition” of the independence of Kosovo, which Belgrade still considers its province.

The 1998-1999 war between Serbia and Kosovo killed more than 10,000 people, mostly Kosovo Albanians. It ended after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign that compelled Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 — a move Belgrade refuses to recognize.

Kosovo fears such an association would be a step toward creating a Serb mini-state with wide autonomy, similar to Republika Srpska in Bosnia.

The EU and the U.S. have given assurances that the association will coordinate work on education, health care, land planning and economic development in communities of northern Kosovo mostly populated by ethnic Serbs.

The association’s establishment was first agreed in Brussels in 2013, and approved in the Kosovo parliament. But Kosovo’s Constitutional Court later deemed it unconstitutional because it wasn’t inclusive of other ethnicities and could entail executive powers.

As part of the EU-facilitated dialogue, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni offered a new draft on the association two weeks ago which Kurti has accepted in principle, according to Hovenier.

“The United States believes strongly that the Association of Serb-majority municipalities should conform with Kosovo’s current constitution. It should conform with the Constitutional Court decision. It should not be an additional layer of government. There should not be any executive authorities,” Hovenier said.

“I don’t see how you have autonomy under those circumstances,” the ambassador said.

The new draft has set clearly that Kosovo’s Constitutional Court is to decide whether it is within the constitutional boundaries.

Both Serbia and Kosovo have said they want to join the 27-nation European block, but EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said their refusal to compromise is jeopardizing their chances for membership.


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.


Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

United States News

FILE - A marquee promoting a fundraiser with President Joe Biden is on display outside the Lunt-Fon...

Associated Press

Big money, fancy homes, old jokes — inside Joe Biden’s fundraisers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If you’re a Democrat with money to burn and friends in high places, you can spend thousands on tickets to a fundraiser with President Joe Biden. If not, keep reading to see what you’re missing. With an election year around the corner, Biden is accelerating his fundraising to prepare for an […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidates from left, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov....

Associated Press

DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy will appear in northwest Iowa days after a combative GOP debate

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidates will cross paths again in Iowa just days after a fractious debate and as the countdown to the caucuses nears the one-month mark. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy will make their case — this time without the others […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to Texas state tr...

Associated Press

Appeals court upholds gag order on Trump in Washington case but narrows restrictions on his speech

A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday largely upheld a gag order on former President Donald Trump in his 2020 election interference case but narrowed the restrictions on his speech.

7 hours ago

FILE - Migrant families wade through shallow waters toward Roma, Texas, March 24, 2021. A federal j...

Associated Press

Federal judge prohibits separating migrant families at US border for 8 years

A federal judge on Friday prohibited the separation of families at the border for purposes of deterring immigration for eight years.

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Indiana secretary of state appeals ruling for US Senate candidate seeking GOP nod

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana secretary of state is appealing a ruling that a law stipulating voting requirements for a candidate’s party affiliation is unconstitutional in a decision that lifted the hopes of a U.S. Senate hopeful who wants to run as a Republican. The Indiana attorney general’s office filed the notice of appeal Friday […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Nashville Police investigation into leak of Covenant School shooter’s writings is inconclusive

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Police have “exhausted all available investigative avenues” in the hunt for the person who leaked pages from a school shooter’s journals to a conservative commentator, the department announced in an email sent to media late on Friday. The writings are part of an ongoing legal battle over whether they should […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.

US diplomat assures Kosovo that new draft of association of Serb municipalities offers no autonomy