Serbs in Kosovo should not boycott June 8 general elections because a boycott will not solve any of their problems, a debate on Friday in the Serb-run northern part of Mitrovica heard.
Norway’s ambassador to Kosovo, Jan Braathu, on Friday urged Kosovo Serbs to vote on June 8 and elect true representatives to the Kosovo parliament.
“A boycott is not a good solution because a boycott also brings you representatives, but not your own representatives,” Braathu told on debate held Friday entitled “Kosovo ahead of parliamentary elections”.
Even if no Kosovo Serbs vote, the Kosovo parliament will still have 10 people representing the Serbian community, the ambassador noted.
The warning comes after heads of four municipalities in the Serb-run north of Kosovo on Wednesday said they were quitting activities related to the general elections until the Kosovo Election Commission meets their demands.
They want Serbian representatives placed in polling station committees in the Albanian southern part of Mitrovica and Kosovo state insignia removed from the ballots.
Ksenija Bozovic, President of the assembly in North Mitrovica, on Friday agreed that a boycott would not do any good and urged Belgrade to give Kosovo Serbs more guidance on what to do.
Dusan Janjic, director of the Fund for Ethnic Relations, meanwhile said that “a boycott of the election campaign does not have to lead to a boycott of the elections.”
He called on Serbs to vote, noting the adverse consequences to local Serbs if they decide to boycott the poll. One is that the Serbian government’s willingness to implement the 2013 EU-led agreement on normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo would be questioned.
If Serbs in northern Kosovo do not vote, it will also be a major blow for the Kosovo authorities.
They hoped to see a repeat of last year’s local elections in which Serbs participated in polls in the independent state for the first time.