Serbia's platform on Kosovo and Metohija

The Belgrade-based daily Danas on Dec. 24 published what it said was the integral Serbian version of the platform that President Tomislav Nikolić on Dec. 21 presented to the leaders of the DS, DSS, LDP and SVM parties.

Before the platform was given to domestic politicians, its shorter version was presented to foreign ambassadors in Serbia as an unofficial diplomatic document - "non-paper".

Unlike in that version, the newspaper reported that the Serbian text had a lengthy "introduction", which referenced Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the central place that Kosovo and Metohija holds for Serbia in the political, economic, security, cultural, identity and spiritual sense.

The "domestic" version also references property issues in the following point:

"Property issues must be permanently solved in line with valid international conventions, accepted legal principles and standards, and certainly with the goal of establishing legal security and a stable business and investment environment in the territory of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija."

On Dec. 20, Tanjug published the English language version of the platform, the authenticity of which the news agency said it was able to confirm.

Taking as a starting point that Serbia will never recognize the independence of its province, the Belgrade platform on Kosovo and Metohija forecasts the end of technical dialogue and continuation of political dialogue with Priština, and underlines “package talks“ as the basic principle of the negotiations.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” states the draft platform on Kosovo that Tanjug had access to and confirmed its authenticity.

The strategic document, which the Serbian public has been expecting for a long time, states that Belgrade will seek autonomy for all Serb communities in the province, on the model of Catalonia, and the SPC status on the model of the Vatican.

The Serbian government, with the aim of protecting its state interests, refrains from achieving any further partial agreements with the provisional institutions of self-government in Priština (PIS) within the technical dialogue, because they lead to the alteration of the state of affairs in the field to the advantage of PIS and weaken Serbia's negotiating position in the high-level political dialogue concerning a potential destabilization of circumstances relative to security, the platform reads.

The platform insists on the establishment of an Autonomous Community of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija (ZSO KiM) comprised of the territorial autonomy of four municipalities in northern Kosovo and other municipalities with a majority Serbian and minority population (Gračanica, Štrpce, Gora. etc.). Those municipalities would be a separate region within the Province.

Belgrade seeks to demilitarize Kosovo, the document says, adding that it would be turned into a demilitarized zone, where the only armed force would be the police that would include the Autonomous police on the model of Catalonia.

The guarantors for safety and the demilitarised status of Autonomous Province (AP) KiM could be the military forces of the EU (EUROCORPS), the Army of Serbia and the Armed forces of Albania, the platform says.

Belgrade wants additional funding for ZSO KiM from the Serbian budget and for the autonomy to be guaranteed by Kosovo's highest laws and supported by international officials.

Belgrade recommends that Kosovo be divided into a number of regions, with the ZSO KiM as a separate one.

Apart from the four municipality in northern Kosovo, autonomy is required for the municipalities of Gračanica, Štrpce, Gora and others populated by Serbs; and the status of municipality and special status for rural enclaves.

The starting point for determining the territory of the regions encompassed by the special status, especially outside the city areas, should be the ethnic structure that existed before the ethnic cleansing, the platform stresses.

This autonomy should include authentic jurisdiction in education, healthcare, sports, culture, public information services, environmental protection, urban planning, agriculture, forestry, mining, waterpower engineering, hunting, fishing, energy, telecommunications, trade, economic policy, judiciary, internal affairs, fiscal policy and finances, the platform says.

As regards the judiciary, that implies public prosecutors of first instance and courts of first and second instance, while the courts in the region of the ZSO KiM would be established by the law on the provincial level, but it would be determined in the agreement that shall result from the political process that the law must envisage a mechanism whereby the citizens of the ZSO KiM could, through their representatives, influence the election and composition of the courts, the platform reads.

The authorities of the ZSO KiM should have, in accordance with the highest level act of AP KiM, a guaranteed possibility of establishing direct cooperation with the Republic authorities, as well as a right of supplemental funding from the means allocated by the budget of the Republic of Serbia.

The ZSO KiM shall independently decide on the appearance and use of its symbols (coat of arms, flag, anthem etc.), while the law on the provincial level shall determine more precisely the usage of the symbols of the province and the common use of the symbols of the Province and territorial autonomy.

The ZSO KiM will need to have its assembly and executive council that would carry out tasks envisaged in the ZSO KiM competencies, the platform reads.

The document stipulates the establishment of a special contractual relation between the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and interim Kosovo institutions that would grant an internationally valid guarantee in relation to the SPC premises, property and activities in the territory of the province.

That agreement should take into account the experiences of the Lateran Accords of 1929, regarding the status of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy. These accords regulated the position of that church in Italy, which recognized the sovereignty of the Holy See.

The details relating to the negotiating position on this matter have to be harmonized with the SPC, the platform underlines.

The political solution adopted as a result of the negotiations envisages that the highest legal act of AP KiM shall proclaim a lasting guarantee for the return of the persons that were displaced from Kosovo and Metohija, the platform reads, underlining the need for creating conditions for a sustainable return.

The negotiations must also result in the creation of an efficient legal and organization mechanism that would enable the inclusion of the representatives of the Serbian and other non-Albanian population in all institutions and authorities of AP KiM, so as to avoid any majorization, the platform underlines.

The Serbian side also proposes the formation of a bicameral provincial assembly, in which the upper house would represent the House of Regions and Religious Communities, while the lower house would be the House of Citizens. All regions and main religious communities would be equally represented in the upper house, while in the lower house - the Serbian and non-Albanian population would be represented pursuant to the guaranteed quotas and elections results.

The presiding chairperson of one of the two Houses, as well as Vice-president of the other should be representatives of the Serbian, i.e. non-Albanian population.