Opposition Slates Serbia’s ‘Secret’ Kosovo Platform

Opposition parties in Serbia say the government has not consulted them while drafting the platform for Kosovo talks and is wrongfully keeping the document secret.Borislav Stefanovic, Serbia’s former chief negotiator in EU-led Kosovo talks and member of the opposition Democrats, said it was absurd that the government’s draft platform on Kosovo was being treated like a state secret.

“If the justification for this being a state secret is so the [Kosovo] Albanians don’t know our moves in advance, they know that we will come out with clear demands about northern Kosovo,” Stefanovic told Beta news agency on Thursday, concerning the Serb-run north of Kosovo.

Serbia’s leadership met on Wednesday to agree key details of the platform ahead of the next round of Belgrade-Pristina talks in Brussels.

The EU-mediated talks started on March 2011 aimed at normalising relations between the two countries, both of which share a desire to join the EU one day.

Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said after the meeting that the draft platform was a state secret.

As Balkan Insight has learned, the participants in the talks have received the document, and are supposed to submit any comments before next week.

Bojan Djuric, of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, hinted at rifts inside the government coalition of the platform on Kosovo.

In a statement sent to the media on Thursday, he asked: “Why so much secrecy if the intention is not to confuse the public who are now speculating. Or is there serious mistrust among the coalition partners?”

Slobodan Samardzic, whip of the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, said that he had originally expected that all the parties in the country would be consulted in drafting the platform – and now felt disappointed.

“There are lots of hidden, strange, almost illegal actions connected to the dialogue, even though it was said that everything would be done in a transparent manner,” Samardzic complained to the news agency Tanjug on Thursday.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, delcared independence i 2008 and has since been recognised by 22 of the 27 EU states as well as the US. Serbia has vowed never to recognise it but says it is open to talks about improving people’s daily lives.

Aside from the overall issue of Kosovo’s status in Serbian eyes, Belgrade and Pristina are in dispure over the mainly Serbian sliver of northern Kosovo, where the Serbian government effectively subsidises an alternative system of government including schools, hospitals and local authorities.

One of Pristina’s key demands is for Belgrade to stop financing these so-called parallel institutions.

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