TIRANA, June 8, 2023 – As Western pressure mounts on the Kosovo government to accept the creation of the Association of Serbian-majority Municipalities, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama has announced he has sent a draft solution on the matter to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Rama said the situation was becoming a “political tragedy for the Republic of Kosovo” as Western pressure is seemingly being met with a deaf ear by the Kosovo government.
“I am here to inform you of a previously unknown fact. Yesterday, I forwarded to Scholz and Macron a draft on the association, of which I also informed [President of the EU Council] Charles Michel and the American side,” said Rama at a press conference on Thursday.
Rama added that the document is confidential but expressed his conviction that it is “a document of the highest international level that takes into consideration all the reasons for the creation of the association and that the association as part of the organization of life for Kosovo.”
Kosovo and Serbia originally reached an agreement for ASM in 2013 within the dialogue for the normalization of relations, mediated by the EU. But, despite the constant calls of the international community to implement it, Kosovo has consistently refused on the grounds that the broad powers of the ASM would threaten the internal functionality of the state.
Rama said that he has not consulted on this draft with Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, adding the draft was drawn up by independent experts, adding that he himself contributed.
“Albin Kurti is being blamed by the whole democratic world and this only causes me regret. I neither judge nor attack Albin Kurti,” Rama said, adding he was simply hoping to contribute to the de-escalation of the situation between Kosovo and Serbia.
Rama said that he has supported Kurt in the dialogue process with Serbia mediated by the EU and will continue to support him on the “path of mutual recognition.”
“The internationals are the masters of the house in Kosovo, if they turn their backs, may it never happen, but that house [Kosovo] enters its darkest days,” he added.
Kurti also spoke on the matter Thursday, and although he did not react directly to Rama’s statements, Kurti said that agreements should be based on principles.
“I have said that it must be based on principles,” Kurti said. “But we cannot write alternative texts based on an arithmetic average without first agreeing in principle.”
Kosovo’s government has been under pressure from its Western allies to accept the ASM and hold new elections in the Serb-majority municipalities, where a boycott of the last elections by the Serb population led to Albanian mayors being elected by a small minority of voters.
An attempt by the new mayors to enter their offices with the help of Kosovo police led to clashes with Serbian protesters, which ultimately led to injuries among NATO peacekeepers.
The United States and the European Union have issued warnings to Kosovo, urging them to resolve the tense standoff with Serbs in the northern part of the country. If Kosovo does not comply, they may face consequences from their Western allies.
The conflict escalated when Kosovo authorities appointed ethnic Albanian mayors in municipal offices, leading to violence and injuries. A U.S. envoy emphasized that Kosovo must grant greater autonomy to the Serb-majority municipalities if it wants to progress towards NATO and EU membership.
The specific consequences and measures were not elaborated upon. Kosovo’s prime minister expressed disagreement with using pressure and consequences to resolve the situation.
The US and the EU have called for the withdrawal of the mayors, the removal of special police units, fresh local elections with Serb participation in the north, and the implementation of an agreement to establish the ASM.
Western nations have warned Kosovo about potential punitive measures. NATO has increased its troop presence in Kosovo in response to the violence.