Serbia: elections under high-tension

Article published on May 21, 2012
Article published on May 21, 2012
By Tanja Milevska Translated by Francesca Cerri There are not only the French who vote on Sunday, May 6th. The Serbs also get ready to renew their institutions and in a much less serene atmosphere. The Serbs of Kosovo will also vote but will the authorities there succeed in managing the tensions?
Cafebabel Bruxelles spoke to Ian Bancroft, executive director of Transconflict, to try finding an answer.

The Serbs of Kosovo will vote this year for the presidential and legislative elections, under the observation mandate of OSCE. Belgrade which has always consulted the Serbs of Kosovo till now, including in municipal elections, source of strong tensions, was foremost called to order by the international community, and by his neighbor, Kosovo, independent state since 2008.

Even if Belgrade does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, the political scene has changed: Kosovo is a fully-fledged state, with the blessing of the International Court of Justice, and Serbia is officially a candidate for European Union membership. With the hope to initiate negotiations with the EU, Belgrade is strongly encouraged to abandon the "parallel institutions" in Kosovo, in other words those institutions - city halls, schools and the other local authorities for Serbs - which do not respect the Kosovo government and depend financially on Serbia.

Furthermore, most of the member countries of the EU have initially informed that, "the holding of elections in Kosovo is not in agreement with the international obligations of Serbia, as envisaged by the resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the United Nations". Serbia lined up behing this interpretation of the resolution 1244 and called on the "compatriots" Serbs of Kosovo not to organize elections polls on their own initiative, as they cannot be recognized and are only going to strengthening the problem of the "parallel institutions".

However, if the municipal elections are certainly problematic, why not to allow the Serbian population of Kosovo to vote for legislative and presidential elections, following the example of the Serbian Diaspora in many countries of the world, including Belgium? The recent episodes of violence in Kosovo, sometimes deathly, reopened the question of the vote of Serbs and several solutions are under the magnifier of Brussels, Belgrade and Pristina. It is important that this vote will be organized by an International Organization and not by Serbia itself.

Ian Bancroft, executive director of Transconflict, organization which works on projects of transformation of conflicts, believes that it is "important that a solution is found to allow the Serbs of Kosovo to vote in the presidential and legislative elections without fearing for their safety. As far as local elections are concerned, it is another question, it is there that the problems occur". Finally the chosen solution was to organize elections under the observation mission of OSCE.