Association of Serbian Municipalities: From a tool of integration, to a disaster in the making

Part of the Kosovo-Serbia Agreement and on normalization of relations reached through EU mediation, last April 19th in Brussels, was the creation of the Association of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, an institution tying together Serb-majority Kosovo municipalities with its headquarters in northern Mitrovica. The Association was accepted by the government in Prishtina in return for the dismantlement of all the illegal Serbian security structures in the North.It was agreed that the Association of Serb Municipalities would only be established after local elections were completed throughout Kosovo, including the problematic north. Ideally, the Serb population would elect legal and legitimate representatives to implement the Brussels agreement reached between Prime Ministers Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo and Serbia’s Ivica Dacic of Serbia, and witnessed by mediator and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. To implement the agreement, people and structures on the ground had to be willing to do it, and the Kosovo and Serbia governments had to accept these people and structures. The whole Kosovo-Serbia normalization deal thus obviously rests on having widely accepted mayors and local governments in Serb-majority municipalities.Serb participation in these elections was essential for Kosovo; it represented a unique opportunity to start integrating the Serb community north of the Ibar River. On the other hand, Northern Kosovo was always going to be subject to political negotiations with Serbia. “With 90% of population in the North being Serbs, there’s no other way around it”, said a former EU diplomat.You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.