Monday, February 20, 2006

SERBIA: PLAYERS MOOT REFERENDUM ON KOSOVO

Belgrade, 17 Feb. (AKI) - Ahead of UN-led talks on the future status of Serbia's troubled ethnic Albanian majority province of Kosovo, due to start in Vienna on 20 February, Serbian political players are mulling the possibility of a national referendum on Kovoso. The Serbian government's Coordination Centre for Kosovo's chief, Sanda Raskovic-Ivic announced that the plebiscite could be organised "if things go wrong."


"It is the way citizens could show if they are dissatisfied with the Kosovo solution," Roskovic said. "It is the legal method by which Serbia has a right to decide if is prepared to give away the province to the nation "that exists as a minority in our country in order to make its own state," she added.

Serbia favours a "negotiated settlement" in Kosovo - which has been under UN administration since 1999 - and opposes an "imposed solution as violation of its sovereignty. Its overwhelmingly Muslim majority want independence from Serbia - a position that has been gaining increasing support from the international community.

Speaking before the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday, Serbia's president Boris Tadic - who is a member of Serbia's negotiating team - said Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders should accept autonomy within Serbia for an agreed period, "say 20 years," before any discussions about breakaway province's final status. His position reflects the mainstream Serb view about Kosovo as a 'spiritual cradle' that cannot be traded away.

The deputy president of Serbia's strongest opposition force, the Democratic Party, Nenad Bogdanovic, said that pondering a referendum is a sure sign the government is looking to avoid responsibility for Kosovo's fate. "That has been seen in Serbia already. When politicians doubt and do not believe they have the power to fight for something that is good and in the interest of its people, they start talking about referendums", Bogdanovic pointed out.

Moreover, according to UN Resolution 1244, Serbia does not have sovereignty over Kosovo, Kosovo's prime minister Bajram Kosumi's aide, Azem Vlasi.

But Serbian Constitutional Court judge Slobodan Vucetic claims that according to the Constitution, the territory of Serbia is indivisible, and border changes can be made by citizens through a plebiscite. "The decision to change Serbia's borders can be made only by citizens in a referendum, if an absolute majority of the electorate, made up of all citizens with the right to vote, supports those changes," Vucetic said.

Every registered voter within the territory of Serbia, Kosovo included, according to UN Resolution 1244, would be involved, he said. The referendum would be organised by the Serbian parliament. Technical aspect of voting in Kosovo would have to be made with an agreement between the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE), the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and temporary regional institutions, he added.

Although the possibility of a referendum is attracting considerable media attention, the Serbian government has so far made no official comment.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whenever leaders defer to the voters, it's because they lack the guts to make the decisions. Further, they will have themselves absolved of the blame, if things wrong as they can say they were only acting according to the proven desires of the voters.

L.

Bokababe said...

While that may be true, others might simply see the will of the voters in Serbia as "democracy in action" -- not a bad thing for a former Socialist country.

None of these Serbian leaders want to go down in history as being "the one who gave away Kosovo". But, any resistance on the Serb leaders part to giving up Kosovo (in whole or in part) at the negotiating table, could be met with sanctions and punishment to Serbia & Montenegro from the Euro community -- or maybe even a war. So, if the Serbian & Montengrin people are going to pay the price for whatever stand is taken on Kosovo, then they should have a say in it.

I only wish that we had had the same referendum on going to war with Iraq!

BB