The Prime Minister of Kosovo said on Wednesday that creating an association of the five Serb-majority municipalities in the country is not a priority for his Cabinet, even though the United States has argued that this issue is important to the eventual normalization of ties between Kosovo and Serbia.
Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo, expressed his concern that the organization could develop into a mini-state. He believes that resuming negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo under the auspices of the European Union would be more productive.
Washington has been putting more pressure on Pristina to implement a 2013 agreement to establish the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities. This organization would coordinate work on education, health care, land planning and economic development at the local level. However, Kosovo’s Constitutional Court later declared the plan unconstitutional, ruling that it wasn’t inclusive of other ethnicities and could entail the use of executive powers.
U.S. diplomats met with a group of Kosovo civil society leaders this week to discuss the steps the Kosovo government needs to take to authorize the association with the United States. U.S. and European Union envoys also visited Kosovo and Serbia last month to encourage the two countries to accept a new proposal for normalizing their relations and furthering their candidacies for EU membership.
The details of the proposal have not yet been made public.
The U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Jeff Hovenier, has sought to address the Kurti government’s concerns by reiterating that Washington opposes the establishment of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities (ASM), which would resemble Republika Srpska, one of the two political entities in Bosnia with the broad governing authority.
Kurti remained sceptical, asserting that while Serbia has recognized Bosnia’s statehood de jure, “de facto it sabotages it every day.” He went on to say that Serbia needs to start living up to its commitments and stop sabotaging Bosnia’s efforts to establish itself as a sovereign state.