Serb representatives support Kosovo platform

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Some 150 representatives of Serbs in Kosovo met in Kosovska Mitrovica and decided to support the state platform for Kosovo, drafted in Belgrade.

Mayor Krstimir Pantić (Beta, file)
Mayor Krstimir Pantić (Beta, file)

The meeting lasted three and a half hours.

B92 has seen the draft conclusions from the session, which have in the meantime been adopted. They are voicing the Serb leaders' support for the platform presented by President Tomislav Nikolić as a basis for the solving of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija.

However, the Serbs are also asking the government "not to reach partial agreements with interim institutions in Priština during the so-called technical dialogue", as such solutions would cause changes to the situation on the ground in favor of Priština, while at the same time weakening Serbia's negotiating position.

The conclusions also state that the platform "must stress as clearly as possible" that Kosovo is an inalienable part of Serbia, and that in line with that, taxpayers should be part of Serbia's tax system.

The Serbs expect political consensus to be reached regarding the platform, and are demanding that the document be adopted in parliament.

They commended the fact that it references protection of interests and seeking of solutions for all Serbs who live in Kosovo and Metohija, and protection of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its property.

The Serb representatives also today asked that the final version of the platform should contain a special chapter that will regulate the responsibilities of the international community, which should create the conditions for the return of more than 250,000 internally displaced persons from Kosovo to their homes.

Finally, the conclusions stress that any future changes to the text of the platform should be harmonized with representatives of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija.

Kosovska Mitrovica Mayor Krstimir Pantić told the Beta news agency earlier on Tuesday that he expected the platform "to be adopted", and added that 150 representatives of Serbs in Kosovo would attend the meeting today.

According to him, they will include councilors, coordinators from those municipalities where local elections were not held, representatives of Serbs from southern parts of the province, and those of associations of the families of the missing, kidnapped and murdered Serbs.

The president last week met with some 30 representatives of Serbs in Kosovo and informed them about the platform. At the time, they expressed their principled support for the document, saying that it protected their interests, rights, and dignity.

According to the platform, which Beta has seen, Belgrade is demanding a high degree of territorial and political autonomy for Serb municipalities, "modeled after Catalonia", and for it to be guaranteed by the highest legal acts of the province, and supported by officials of the international community taking part in negotiations.

The autonomous area would include northern municipalities as well as those of Gračanica, Štrpce, and others. The document, marked as non-paper, also demands that small Serb enclaves be given a special status and declared municipalities.

Belgrade's Večernje Novosti daily is writing today that the cabinet of President Nikolić is drafting principles derived from the platform that will be harmonized with the government and included in a special parliament resolution, that should be adopted after the holidays.

This document would provide our negotiating team with the guidelines "when the issue of the final status of Kosovo and Metohija comes up on the agenda", while top state officials wish for the text to gain as much support as possible from MPs.

Ahead of the meeting in Kosovska Mitrovica on Tuesday several incidents, targeting Serbs, have been reported.