Kosovo president open to new elections in Serb-majority municipalities
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[June 07, 2023]
By Kim Vinnell
PRISTINA, Kosovo (Reuters) -Kosovo could trigger new elections in
Serb-majority municipalities rocked by violent protests if 20% of voters
sign a petition asking for them, the president told Reuters.
In an exclusive interview in her office, President Vjosa Osmani said she
believed a petition was the most "democratic way" to proceed to new
"In this way, I think we would ensure the participation of Serbs because
the request would have come from them to begin with, from citizens," she
To listen to the interview on Reuters World News podcast please click
Violent protests erupted in four northern municipalities after Kosovo
installed ethnic Albanian mayors who were elected into offices on a
turnout of just 3.5%. Serbs, who form a majority in the region,
boycotted the local polls.
Osmani said removing mayors through a voter petition would be "sort of a
referendum" which would open the way for a second vote to be held to
elect new mayors. She said the entire process could be done within a few
It was unclear, however, if local Serb voters would participate in a
Serbs in Kosovo's northern region do not accept the 2008 declaration of
independence from Serbia, almost a decade after the end of a war there,
and still see Belgrade as their capital.
As tensions between Serbia and Kosovo simmer, NATO has reinforced its
peacekeeping forces in the north of the country.
Osmani said she wanted those peacekeeping troops to stay until Kosovo
was admitted into NATO.
Osmani said that before new elections were called, Kosovo would need
reassurances from the international community that Belgrade would not
Serbia denies Kosovo's accusations that it prevented Serbian candidates
from running on the ballots. It also denies allegations that
demonstrators who clashed with NATO troops and police in northern
regions on May 29 were sent by Belgrade.
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Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu
speaks during an interview with Reuters in Pristina, Kosovo June 6,
2023. REUTERS/Fatos Bytyci
Serbia still formally considers Kosovo to be part of its territory.
Serbs in Kosovo's north are seeking more autonomy for their region
under a 2013 deal that has not been implemented.
Last week, an aide to U.S. President Joe Biden spoke withKosovan
Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian PresidentAleksandar Vucic,
pushing Serbia to withdraw armed forcesstationed near the border and
urging protesters to remainpeaceful.
Osmani met with Vucic at a meeting brokered by French President
Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Moldova last
She described the Serbian president as "a drama king".
"Vucic in most of his meetings is quite a drama king," she said. "So
he, of course, tried to create quite a lot of drama again, but
provided no ideas that would contribute to peace and stability in
"So he loves to pretend that he's making great concessions, that
there's too much pressure on him, that he's suffering, that he's in
danger and all that.
But those kind of tantrums they should be left outside of the room
after the age of four."
Vucic's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for
comment on Osmani's description of the meeting.
(Additional reporting by Fatos Bytyci in Pristina and Ivana
Sekularac in Belgrade, Editing by Leela de Kretser, William Maclean)
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