Serbs in Kosovo are being encouraged to vote ahead of local elections on November 3.
Serbia and most Serbs in Kosovo refuse to recognise the country’s independence. However for the first time Serbia is telling Serbs there to vote. It follows a deal brokered by the European Union between the two countries, which Serbia sees as helping towards its EU membership bid.
As part of the deal, Serbia has given up its legal authority over the territory. In return, Kosovo authorities will let four Serb-controlled areas of northern Kosovo have some autonomy.
However according to Ilir Deda of the Kosovar think-tank KIPRED, the deal could end the prospects for a multi-ethnic Kosovo and ultimately break up the country.
“The Brussels agreement [between Kosovo and Serbia] legalises and institutionalises the ethnic division between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo and this division should function within some sort of overall unified Kosovo legal framework with guarantees from Serbia for the existence of Serbian association of municipalities – which I think if not managed properly in the next 5 to 10 years is going to lead to the definite partition of Kosovo.”
Many Serbs in Kosovo say they are being pressured by Belgrade to vote and have been told they will lose their jobs if they do not.
If they do take part in elections they will be recognising Kosovo independence, which is for many an impossible choice.