Kosovo’s Kurti Gives Signs of Softening on Serb ‘Association’

Kosovo’s almost decade-long resistance to the creation of an ‘association’ of Serb municipalities might be about to end, analysts say.

It was barely four years ago that Albin Kurti was setting off tear gas in Kosovo’s parliament to obstruct the creation of an ‘association’ of Serb municipalities. Today, as prime minister, he appears ready to relent, analysts say.

Agreed in 2013 under EU-mediated dialogue between Serbia and its former southern province, the association of Serb-majority municipalities was designed to assuage some of the fears and concerns of the roughly 116,000 ethnic Serbs left in majority-Albanian Kosovo.

But for Kosovo Albanians, wary of replicating the dysfunctional division of power in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was a painful concession in an otherwise vain effort to get Serbia to recognise their independence or at least clear a path to a seat at the United Nations.

Kurti, a former political prisoner in Serbia and leader of the anti-establishment Vetevendosje [Self-Determination] movement that railed against the notion of negotiating with Serbia, shows signs of softening, perhaps from a position of strength since his party’s landslide election win a year ago. Statements from the mediators also point to a possible breakthrough.

International pressure is building, say experts, and may build further once Serbian elections are out of the way in April.

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