By Bojana Barlovac
Ten days ahead of Serbian elections, Brussels, Belgrade and Pristina are trying to find a solution on how to let Kosovo Serbs vote in the presidential and parliamentary polls.
Brussels is in constant touch with Belgrade and Pristina seeking a solution to enable Serbs in Kosovo to vote in Serbia’s presidential and general elections, Balkan Insight has learned from a Brussels diplomat.
“The situation is complicated as Serbs should be allowed to vote [in Kosovo], as that is the European practice as well, but it is also a matter of security due to recent tension in the north [of Kosovo],” the diplomat told Balkan Insight.
According to the Brussels source, the plan is to for the OSCE to provide the logistics, as Kosovo is opposed to the Serbian state playing any role in voting inside Kosovo.
General, local and presidential elections are scheduled for May 6 in Serbia. Serbian nationals living in other countries can vote in the presidential and general elections, in their country of residence.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 but Serbia still perceives it as part of its southern province, which is why it has no embassy in Pristina where Serbs could vote.
Goran Bogdanovic, Serbian Minister for Kosovo, confirmed that talks with the OSCE on organising the elections were underway.
“We are willing to accept the OSCE’s help but in no way can the OSCE organise the presidential and parliamentary elections, and that is the dispute,” Bogdanovic said.
According to the minister, many things have been agreed, including the number of polling stations and constituencies as well as buildings where the voting will be held. They have also agreed on symbols at pollings stations, which will be the OSCE symbol and not the emblem of the state of Serbia.
“But we did not agree on the key issue – who should organise it,” he added.
Kosovo authorities have also they will back voting in Serbian presidential and general elections taking place in Kosovo – if it is not organised by Serbia directly or by local Serbian-run institutions.
Kosovo’s President Atifeta Jahjaga and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci have released a statement saying that they had nothing against the OSCE or Council of Europe hosting Serbian legislative and presidential elections in Kosovo.
However, Arber Vllahiu, spokesperson of the Kosovo president, said the Kosovo President had not yet received an official request from the OSCE mission in Kosovo to assist those people holding dual citizenship in Kosovo to participate in the May 6 elections.
About the author: Balkan Insight
The Balkan Insight (forner the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes.
BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention.
Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.