Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

France 24 meets George Weah ahead of inauguration

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gymnast's fierce courtroom address

Read more

THE DEBATE

A whole new world: Trump anniversary special

Read more

#TECH 24

Will artificial intelligence ever surpass the human brain?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Aiding migrants in France: What are the legal implications?

Read more

FOCUS

The challenge of clearing Colombia of landmines

Read more

REVISITED

Video: Gambians reflect on first year of democracy

Read more

FASHION

Pitti Uomo in Florence, the world's largest men's fashion showcase

Read more

ENCORE!

Award-winning Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza on keeping it real

Read more

Europe

Kosovo Serbs hold referendum on government in Pristina

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-14

Defiant ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo on Tuesday held a referendum on whether to recognise the authority of the Albanian-dominated government in Pristina. Though non-binding, the vote may hinder Serbia’s attempt to join the European Union.

REUTERS - Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo voted on Tuesday in a referendum on whether to recognise the government in Pristina, which they have ignored since Serbia's former province became independent in 2008.

Kosovo is 90 percent ethnic Albanian. Serbs dominate in a small swathe of the north bordering Serbia and pledge allegiance to Belgrade. They have so far resisted efforts by the Kosovo government to extend its authority there.

The result of the two-day referendum is expected on Feb. 19. The decision will have little practical impact but could further stoke ethnic tensions.

Officials in Belgrade have warned Kosovo Serbs against holding the referendum, saying it would harm talks with Pristina and Serbia's own bid to join the European Union.

"The referendum is meaningless and unconstitutional," said Borislav Stefanovic, Serbia's negotiator in talks with Pristina.

Kosovo's Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said: "As far as Kosovo and international institutions are concerned, this does not change anything and may only damage Serbia's hopes for EU candidacy."

Municipal councils from Kosovska Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan, run by Serb nationalists, called the vote in December, after outbursts of violence earlier in 2011.

"We are defending our homes and the state of Serbia in Kosovo," said Krstimir Pantic, mayor of the Serb part of the northern town of Mitrovica.

"We do not want to be assimilated, we want to remain citizens of Serbia," said Lazar Ampovski, 26, a student, after casting his ballot.

In July, Kosovo authorities, the European Union's police mission (EULEX) and NATO peacekeepers (KFOR) tried to take over two border crossings with Serbia but local Serbs set up barricades and resisted the efforts. Dozens were wounded in weeks of clashes and one ethnic Albanian policeman was killed.

The European Union delayed a decision on granting Serbia the status of EU membership candidate in December, citing concerns over its fraught relations with Kosovo.

Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 when NATO bombed to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war under then-President Slobodan Milosevic.

Date created : 2012-02-14

  • Servia - Kosovo

    Kosovo and Serbia reach deal on border posts, says EU

    Read more

  • KOSOVO - SERBIA

    Kosovo Serbs clash with NATO peacekeepers over disputed border crossing

    Read more

  • KOSOVO

    New violence erupts in ethnically volatile Kosovo

    Read more

COMMENT(S)