U.S. urges Kosovo to back peace deal and form Serb
The United States
ambassador to Kosovo on Tuesday urged Pristina to press ahead
with forming an association of Serb municipalities and help
complete an EU-brokered peace deal with its former master,
Jeffrey M. Hovenier said the U.S. expected Kosovo to "follow
through on its obligations," describing the formation of the
association as "critical, important and urgent".
Kosovo in 2013 pledged to give more autonomy to local Serbs,
who refuse to recognise its 2008 independence, through such an
association as part of a peace deal. However, Kosovo's highest
court said some parts of the deal were in violation of the
constitution and should be changed before it takes effect.
The biggest opponent remains Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who
says such a body would create a mini state within Kosovo and
effectively partition the country along ethnic lines, similar to
Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The U.S. said that while the obligation must be met,
Washington would not tell Pristina to do anything that could
jeopardise its own sovereignty.
"We do not support any arrangement that violates Kosovo's
constitution... or that will threaten Kosovo's sovereignty,
independence, multiethnic character or its democratic
institutions," Hovenier said.
"We strictly oppose the creation of any entity resembling
Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina," he added.
Hovenier said Washington was ready to "provide expertise and
political support" to ensure the resolution worked in the
interest of all Kosovans.
Around one hundred people, backed by Kurti's supporters,
protested the formation of the association at midday on Tuesday.
Last week European Union, U.S., German, French and Italian
envoys met leaders of both countries to try to convince them to
sign an 11-point deal meant to defuse tensions lingering since
their 1998-99 conflict.
The western diplomats told both countries they should state
by March whether they accept an international plan to normalise
relations or face repercussions from the EU and United States.
The 11-point western deal states that Serbia would not be
required to recognise the independence of its former province
but would have to stop lobbying against Kosovo's membership in
The two countries would also have to open representative
offices in each other's capitals and work on resolving