U.S. reiterates necessity to form Association of Serb municipalities

Counselor to the U.S. State Department Derek Chollet and the U.S. special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, have reiterated the necessity to form the Association of Serb-majority municipalities.

“There have been a lot of discussions about the Association and the time has come to make it clear what is the Association and what is not. In general, the Association would be a structure for municipalities with the majority of ethnic Serbs to coordinate on issues and services such as education, healthcare, urban and rural planning, and local economic development – in other words, functions that all municipalities of Kosovo already have under their responsibilities. It is a way for improving the daily lives of citizens, creation of trust between ethnic Serbs and the central government, ensure better ties between the north and other parts of the country, and creation of mechanisms for Serbs to greater participation in the social life of Kosovo,” Chollet and Escobar write in a piece published by Koha.
They argue that “Kosovo’s commitment to creating the Association does not threaten its Constitution, sovereignty, independence, or its democratic institutions. We strongly oppose the creation of any entity like the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH); International community is not asking to impose a solution, instead, we are asking Kosovo to offer its vision for this Association, and we are ready to offer expertise and political support to ensure that it functions for the best interest of Kosovars”.
Chollet and Escobar also write that the EU Special Representative (ESUR) Miroslav Lajcak, has emphasized that there are 14 similar arrangements within the European Union – and none of them threatens the European system of effective government. “Within the EU-facilitated dialogue framework, Kosovo can reject options that threaten its legal structure, but it cannot reject its commitments. As the most pro-Kosovo state in the world, the United States of America are committed to supporting the people of Kosovo to ensure that its constitutional and legal structures are not being threatened,” they note.
The two senior U.S. officials also say that an Association of Serb-majority municipalities would not be monoethnic. “These would be municipalities with Serbian majority where not only ethnic Serbs live, but also other groups – Albanians, Bosniaks, and others – whose rights should be guaranteed and protected … As the closest ally and friend of Kosovo we believe that by working on the establishment of the Association, Kosovo will fulfill a critical element needed for the building of its future as a sovereign, multiethnic and independent state, integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures. We are ready to support Kosovo to fulfill this commitment and stand by your country at every step. The future of Kosovo and Serbia – and their youth, who are now moving abroad looking for more opportunities – might be bright in a Europe which is ‘whole, free and in peace’. All it takes is to use this moment together.”