By Linda Karadaku and Ivana Jovanovic
Local Serb leaders in northern Kosovo made an offer to international peacekeeping officials on Wednesday (December 14th), calling it a peace initiative and a temporary solution to the current situation. The paper was presented to representatives of KFOR, EULEX, UNMIK and the OSCE at a meeting in the northern town of Zvecan.
The initiative was presented by Zvecan Municipal Assembly Vice-President Ljuba Radovic, who told SETimes that they want the political process to go on and “to be calm on the ground, without conflicts between the international missions and citizens, and without unilateral actions against citizens.”
The paper also reinstates their position against EULEX being at the gates, saying “the presence of EULEX would be skipped here.”
“Near Mitrovica, KFOR checkpoints would be set up that would also be a guarantee that no one else will come to the north and that KFOR can control all directions,” he said, adding that “EULEX could work from these points to the south.”
Radovic said “the first comments from people from international organisations … are positive.”
“The document calls for a time-out for peace, urging KFOR and other missions to refrain from taking violent actions against Serbs in the north. It also envisages free passage of people and goods at administrative crossings and removal of the roadblocks,” Serb news agency, Tanjug, reported.
Zvecan Mayor Dragisa Milovic told SETimes that the offer “suggests to all to refrain from unilateral actions and violence with a request that our citizens celebrate the holidays in peace and love”.
“That was our proposal and I think it has been received positively by representatives of international organisations,” Milovic said.
The paper also “seeks a permanent and sustainable political solution through the resumption of the open political process involving Pristina, Belgrade, northern Kosovo Serbs and the international community”, Tanjug reported.
The document proposes that “KFOR be in charge of control and security, including the establishment of control points in the places of Dudin Krs, Kosutovo — Zubce, Jagnjenica and elsewhere as needed.”
KFOR spokesperson, Major Daniel Harvey, said the NATO-led force had no comment.
“[This] is a political matter,” Harvey told SETimes. KFOR sources say this position “won’t change for some time”.
Serb leaders in the north also asked that “police operations in the north and at Gates 1 and 31 would be carried out by the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), monitored by KFOR and UNMIK, while EULEX would continue to operate in the wider region of Mitrovica.”
EULEX would not comment on the new offer, but a mission official told SETimes that they “are looking at the document”.
Local Serbs repeated their objection to integration in the independent Kosovo, saying they refuse to be part of “an independent Albanian republic in Pristina”.
OSCE spokesman Nikola Gaon told SETimes that “the mission supports its international partners to defuse tensions in line with [our] mandate, role and expertise.”
On Thursday, Serbian President Boris Tadic said that “Serbia needed to persuade northern Kosovo Serbs not to fire at KFOR in order to get the EU candidate status.”
“A great problem for me is the fact that I, as a Serbian president, do not have operative systems — military, police, institutions — which I could use to defend Serbs in Kosovo and influence Serb extremists, whose moves can destroy everything that Serbia has done in the previous years,” Tadic told reporters.
He asked Kosovo Serbs “to control extremists who would like to continue war and stop Serbia in the EU integration process”.
Dejan Radenkovic, an SPS MP and president of the party committee for Kosovo, considered the Serb move in the north “a positive step”.
“This is not a retreat, or un-retreat; all people who are living in Kosovo are aware that they have to find the best solution to living peacefully and we all have only one aim — to find sustainable solutions, rather than a short-term, and tomorrow, again, to have some unilateral actions because we have not well understood,” Radenkovic told SETimes.