The result of this referendum has all the makings of a foregone conclusion.
Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo are voting on whether to recognise the authority of the ethnic-Albanian dominated government in Pristina. As they have ignored the administration since Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence, the outcome looks set to be a firm ‘no.’
“We just want to say clearly that our wish is to stay in the republic of Serbia,” said Milan, a voter from the Serbian part of the divided city of Mitrovica.
Serbia still sees Kosovo as part of its territory. However officials there reject the referendum, fearing it will harm Belgrade’s bid to join the European Union.
The vote will do nothing to reinforce Serbia’s position in its talks with Pristina, according to Serbian government spokesman Milivoje Mihajlovic.
The EU has delayed a decision on granting Serbia membership candidate status, citing concerns over its fraught relations with Kosovo.
The result of the two-day referendum is expected on February 19, just after the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence declaration.