Envoy: Parallel Kosovo-Serb Structures Should Be Replaced
February 17, 2010
PRISTINA -- Peter Feith, the international community's Kosovo envoy, says parallel municipal structures in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo should be dismantled, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.
Feith told RFE/RL in an interview on February 16 that the European Union will hold talks with Serbian officials in Belgrade on the issue.
Ethnic Serbs in some parts of the three northern districts in Kosovo have refused to recognize Kosovar government offices and institutions and maintain parallel offices headed by ethnic Serbs loyal to Belgrade.
Feith, who is both the international civilian representative (ICR) and the EU's special representative to Kosovo, said that "we advance on the principle that parallel structures in Kosovo...that are still being supported by Belgrade should gradually disappear."
The Dutch diplomat said on the eve of the second anniversary of Kosovo's independence from Serbia -- which is marked today -- that the parallel government structures should be replaced with special links to Belgrade.
He added that such links "would assure the Kosovo Serb community that it can maintain its traditional way of life and that [ethnic Serbs] can receive resources to support education and health."
Feith, who assumed his post in 2008, said the international community hopes to organize elections and to create a new municipality in the Serb part of the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica/Mitrovice that would be integrated into the Kosovar government's local administrative system.
He said, "We would like to consult with Belgrade on further steps with regard to [northern Kosovo], and I am sure from the EU side there will be further consultations with Belgrade on the situation there."
Feith said "extending the values of the EU to the north" of Kosovo could help to persuade the Serbs to accept the integration plan.
An estimated 4 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people are ethnic Serbs. The overwhelming majority of them live in three northern regions.
Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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