EU insists on Community of Serb Municipalities but cannot “force” Kosovo

Žozep Borel
Tanjug / AP, Olivier Matthys, File

From European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell’s answer to an MP question about what will be done regarding Kosovo’s refusal to set up a community of Serb municipalities, it stems that the EU insists that Pristina set up a Community of Serb Municipalities, in line with the 2013 Brussels agreement, but that it cannot “force” Kosovo to do so.

“The establishment of the Association/Community of Serb-Majority Municipalities was agreed by both Parties, Kosovo and Serbia, in the 2013 Brussels Agreement. The Agreement was ratified by the Kosovo parliament and Kosovo needs to fulfil its legal obligation and implement it without delays. Both Parties need to fulfil all their international legal obligations and implement the pending agreements. They also need to make further substantial efforts in order to reach a comprehensive legally binding agreement on normalization of relations, which is key to their European paths,” Borrell said in his written reply.

Borrell added that “addressing the needs of the Kosovo Serb non-majority community is an important element for EU actors in Kosovo” and that Brussels is closely monitoring all developments in these areas.

“The EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo) is actively supporting Kosovo’s law enforcement institutions in strengthening the rule of law, including their efforts to investigate security incidents related to religious and cultural sites. The EU has continuously reminded Kosovo institutions to swiftly and fully implement the judgment of the Constitutional Court on Deçan/Decane Monastery land ownership without any further delay” said Borrell when asked about the protection of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo, especially the Serbian Orthodox (SPC) churches and about the Pristina authorities’ earlier requests to UNESCO to remove these monasteries from the endangered world heritage list, but also to put them down as “Kosovan” rather than as “Serbian”.

“The EU attaches great importance to the rule of law, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, including rights of non-majority communities and religious freedom, and closely monitors all developments in these areas in Kosovo,“ Borrell added.

EU representatives have said a number of times that they do not have the mechanisms to “force” the two sides to honor the signed agreements but that they only remind them of this obligation and of the fact that their progress on the EU path depends on the fulfillment of obligations.

The reaching of a comprehensive legally binding agreement between the two sides remains a key requirement for their accession to the European Union.