Belgrade will not organize local elections in Kosovo

Although called in the entire territory of the country, local elections will not be held in Kosovo, it has been reported in Belgrade on Sunday.

Source: Tanjug

Speaking in an interview for Tanjug news agency, Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović said that this decision was made because the authorities in Belgrade "do not wish to violate (UNSC) Resolution 1244 in any way", or "endanger those Serbs who live (in enclaves) south of the Ibar River".

Bogdanović also noted that it was the UN mission in the province, UNMIK, that was "in charge of organizing local elections".

The minister downplayed the importance of the decision by saying that it "did not mean the Serbian institutions would be shut down", adding that local elections were not held in Kosovo from 1999 until 2008 - "and despite that our institutions survived and were perhaps stronger than those formed after elections (in 2008)".

However, Serb leaders from the municipalities north of the Ibar - where Serbs are the majority - said last month that they would go ahead with organizing the voting regardless of the decision made by the authorities in Belgrade.

This was criticized by Bogdanović who said it was "not good for Serbs to be divided in that way".

The minister once again urged respect of Resolution 1244, and asserted that Belgrade "expects negotiations on the status of Kosovo to commence very soon", and that those negotiations would be based on the UN Security Council document, adopted in 1999 to end the war over Kosovo.

Should elections be held in the north, he said it would be up to the next government to decide whether to recognize the results, and noted he was of the opinion that it would be "very bad".

Bogdanović called on Serbs in northern Kosovo to desist from organizing the local ballot, saying that there were "various ways for local self-government to continue to function there", and mentioned the possibility of forming municipal councils or extending the mandates of local self-governments.

According to him, "it will not be given up on the idea to hold local elections at a later date". Bogdanović concluded by saying that "after this electoral cycle has been completed" he would "once again talk to UNMIK representatives and ask that they organize local elections in Kosovo and Metohija".

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