PRISTINA, Kosovo — Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo held a signature drive Wednesday in hopes of securing sufficient to oust 4 ethnic Albanian mayors whose elections final 12 months despatched tensions between Serbia and Kosovo hovering.
Teams of individuals have been seen going to sport halls or different areas to signal petitions within the municipalities of Northern Mitrovica and Leposavic. The drive is anticipated to begin quickly Zvecan and Zubin Potok, two different municipalities within the north the place most of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority lives.
Supporters of recent municipal elections want the signatures of at the very least 20% of eligible voters.
“As a democratic state … we do respect the rights of all the residents with none ethnic distinction, and such a proper can be revered,” Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, whose ethnic background is Albanian, stated.
Ethnic Serbs overwhelmingly boycotted the April 2023 elections received by the ethnic Albanian mayors and tried to dam them from their places of work a month later. Scores of individuals have been injured on either side because the protesters clashed with Kosovo police after which NATO peacekeepers.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti stated over the summer season that the municipal elections may very well be redone if supporters offered a foundation that met constitutional guidelines, comparable to a petition.
Serbian forces fought a 1998-99 battle with ethnic Albanian separatists in what was then the province of Kosovo. About 13,000 individuals, largely ethnic Albanians, died. Kosovo finally declared independence in 2008, however the authorities in Belgrade doesn’t acknowledge its neighbor as a separate nation.
Western powers have stepped up their work to barter a normalization settlement between Serbia and Kosovo, fearing instability within the Balkans as Russia’s battle rages in Ukraine. The European Union has made it clear that such an settlement is a prerequisite to Kosovo and Serbia becoming a member of the bloc.
Ethnic Albanians make up most of Kosovo’s inhabitants, whereas a restive Serb minority is concentrated in northern areas bordering Serbia.
In a step towards reconciliation this month, Serbia and Kosovo agreed to permit one another’s car license plates for use of their respective areas.
Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.
Comply with Llazar Semini at https://x.com/lsemini