Ethnic Albanians set up association of municipalities

Representatives of five ethnic Albanian parties in Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja on Saturday set up an association of these southern Serbian municipalities.

Source: Tanjug
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They said that the goal was to ensure that ethnic Albanians in this part of Serbia are granted the same rights as are guaranteed to the Serbs in the Community Serb municipalities (ZSO) in Kosovo and Metohija, Tanjug reported.

The decision was made by a majority vote of the present 68 councilors. The session was not attended by councilors from Medvedja, which was holding early local electionson Sunday , but President of the National Council of the Albanian National Minority in Serbia Jonuz Musliu is confident that they will also agree with this decision very soon.

Musliu told reporters after the meeting that the aim of the association was to provide ethnic Albanians with the same rights as were given to the Serbs in the ZSO, primarily in the areas such as police, judiciary and health-care.

In the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, 74 of a total of 114 councilors are of Albanian nationality.

"South needs jobs"

Ethnic Albanians in Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja need jobs and a secure future, rather than a path of chauvinism and conflicts, which can only lead to more young ethnic Albanians moving out of that part of Serbia, says the head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric.

Officials of five ethnic Albanian parties made the decision on Saturday to form an association of the Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja municipalities in southern Serbia to mirror the Brussels agreement on establishing the Community of Serb municipalities in Kosovo.

"The ethnic Albanians in those three municipalities should be a bridge between the Serbs and the Albanians, rather than a bargaining chip and an instrument of manipulation by irresponsible politicians from our southern province," Djuric told Tanjug on Sunday.

The Serbian authorities will not be responding to provocations, but will be concerned with the implementation of laws and the Constitution while protecting the human and ethnic rights of ethnic Albanians, Djuric noted.

The president of the government Coordination Body for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja Zoran Stankovic told Tanjug that ethnic Albanians from those three municipalities were never a subject of the Brussels discussions on normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

He noted that "there can be no parallels" between the north of Kosovo, which has a Serb majority, and southern Serbia, where ethnic Albanians have the majority in two out of three municipalities.

According to Stankovic, thew newly-formed association "means nothing," while ethnic Albanians in these municipalities, as before, can count on the rights guatanteed by the Constitution and Serbia's laws, as well as the International Convention on Ethnic Minorities, adding this was "the framework within which they can move."

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