Some are furious, others resigned, but most Serbs in northern Kosovo feel betrayed by a historic deal reached by Belgrade and Pristina to normalise ties in a step to heal the festering enmity in the Balkans’ last trouble-spot, AFP reported.
“Belgrade betrayed and cheated us,” Marko Dimitrijevic, a 32-year-old pharmacist, said bitterly while sipping a coffee in a cafe in the northern Kosovan city of Kosovska Mitrovica.
The European Union-brokered agreement, signed by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci in Brussels on Friday, provides some autonomy for the roughly 40,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo who steadfastly refuse to recognise Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.
Details of the text — aimed at helping to resolve the last major dispute remaining of the bloody 1990s conflict that split the Balkans — have not been made public by the EU.
But an unofficial version published by local media says Kosovo Serbs would be given positions of authority in the regional police force and in courts in Serb-majority municipalities, albeit within Kosovo’s legal framework.
While the concessions — the result of several rounds of EU-mediated talks — are welcome, the historic deal has also infuriated many Kosovo Serbs who see it as a tacit acceptance by Belgrade of Kosovo’s independence.
Dimitrijevic angrily called on Dacic and his aides “to come here and tell us if they are ashamed” for having struck the deal.
By reaching the agreement “they recognised Kosovo as an independent state and are pushing us under Albanian authority,” added Gordana Petkovic, a 57-year-old clerk in Kosovska Mitrovica.