PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti has urged Western powers not to pressure. His tiny Balkan country to accept a controversial association of five Serb-majority municipalities that is raising tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.
Kurti told The Associated Press that the focus should be on making Serbia more democratic. And getting rid of Belgrade’s hegemonic ideas.
Kurti said in the interview on Sunday that the Serbian government should recognize. The independence of all the former republics of the former Yugoslavia to “face the past”. He insisted that Belgrade should lean more towards the European Union and NATO, not Russia.
The prime minister said that if they rid themselves of the idea that Kosovo still belongs to Serbia, “they will be much more democratic, European.”
In the past few weeks, US and EU envoys have visited Pristina and Belgrade to encourage. The two countries to adopt a new proposal to normalize relations and boost their EU accession bids.
Kurti said the talks so far have been “typical of solving a problem … each solution has become more complicated, ever less implementable and has lost public interest.”
He considered the new proposal “a good framework and platform for moving forward … which makes us optimistic about future negotiations and the possibility of an agreement.”
And economic development at the local level. In 2015, Kosovo’s Constitutional Court later declared part of the plan unconstitutional, ruling that it did not include other ethnicities and could exercise executive powers.
Kurti has said that establishing the association is not his priority. And last week he set conditions that it could only be formed as part of an agreement to normalize relations. Which Serbia has rejected in the past. Kosovo authorities fear that this will ultimately undermine the country’s statehood with the help of Belgrade.
Western powers should learn from the example of Bosnia’s Serb-run Republika Srpska minister. Who threatened to form a cabinet in Kosovo, saying Belgrade had used the creation of the association “as a weapon against our freedom”.
“If we introduce the idea of ethnically based associations of municipalities in the Western Balkans, this is a recipe for new conflicts,” Kurti said.
He said Western powers should not impose pressure on small countries like Kosovo, which are democratic. The problems between Kosovo and Serbia may be small and annoying. But they should pay attention to what is going on in the region because “any kind of wrong solution in the Balkans can be used elsewhere.”
The situation in the north is tense after Western powers helped resolve a tense situation in December when Serbs built barricades on major roads to protest the arrest of a former Serb police officer.
Lars-Gunner Wiegmark, head of the EU’s law mission in Kosovo, called the incident.
“A very tense standoff with barricades” and “the most serious crisis Kosovo has faced in over a decade.” He cautioned against “letting the guard down.”
Another senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Said the mediators were “working very hard” to avoid anything that could incite protests or violence.
Mutual recognition is central to any negotiation process, Kurti stressed, something he said Belgrade did not do.
The dispute between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo remained a source of instability in the Balkans long after the 1998-99 war. Which ended with a NATO intervention that forced Serbia to withdraw the territory.
In 2008 Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, which Belgrade refuses to recognize, backed by Russia and China. The United States and most of the European Union recognize Kosovo.