December 28, 2011
Serbs in northern Kosovo are to hold a referendum on the sovereignty of their municipalities, despite opposition from Pristina, Belgrade and the European Union, according to Serb media reports Wednesday.
Belgrade, SERBIA – Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – DPA
The referendum seeks to assert that Serb municipalities in the north of the mostly Albanian province back ‘full sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia’ over the enclave. The vote, organized by Serbs who resist Pristina’s authority over the former Serbian province, is to be held on February 14 and 15 in at least two of the four municipalities in the north. The other two municipalities are due to decide on a date at a later stage.
The Serb enclave, which is located along the border with Serbia proper, has been the scene of growing tension and even violence amid disputes over who should control the border. The referendum is seen as an act of defiance towards the Kosovo government, the international community and Belgrade, which wants to defuse tensions in the area as part of its efforts to join the EU.
‘It is a legal way for the people to express their will,’ the mayor of the Zvecan municipality, Dobrosav Dobric, told reporters.
Kosovo, with its 90-per-cent Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia nearly four years ago, but Belgrade continues to regard the territory as its soil.
The EU has delayed its decision on Serbia’s membership bid from December to March, to give Belgrade more time to make progress in untangling the knot of northern Kosovo.