Mystery deepens over second ‘non-paper’ raising tensions in the Western Balkans

Mystery deepens over second ‘non-paper’ raising tensions in the Western Balkans
The 'non-paper' mentions creation of an “autonomous district of Northern Kosovo” including Mitrovica North and other majority-Serb municipalities.
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje April 28, 2021

The embassies of France and Germany in Kosovo rejected on April 27 media reports about the non-paper ascribed to the two countries that allegedly foresees recognition of Kosovo by Serbia and establishing an autonomous district in northern Kosovo.

A day earlier, Kosovo daily Koha Ditore published a “non-paper” under the headline “Kosovo and Serbia will recognise each-other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”. It mentions creation of an “autonomous district of Northern Kosovo”. which based on the text proposes competencies of a state. The autonomous district would include the majority-Serb municipalities of Zvecan, Leposavic, Mitrovica North and Zubin Potok.

“France and Germany refute the media reports regarding the so-called German-French non-paper. This paper is not genuine and does not in any way reflect the positions of France and Germany,” the French embassy in Pristina said in a tweet.

It added that France and Germany strongly support “helping the Western Balkans make progress towards the EU along with stronger cooperation in the region.”

German ambassador to Pristina Jorn Rohde said in a separate tweet that “the so called German-French non paper published by Koha Ditore is fake news! There might be a paper but it’s for sure not a German-French one.”

This was the second non-paper that has appeared in the media recently tackling sensitive issues in the Western Balkans. The first one was revealed by Bosnian media and was ascribed to Slovenian PM Janez Jansa, who denied he was behind the document. The document, which mentions the division of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the merger of Bosnia’s Serb Republic with Serbia, as well as the unification of Kosovo with Albania, has raised tensions in the region. 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, reacting to the media reports on the second non-paper said that Kosovan President Vjosi Osmani and the authorities in Pristina “should not even dream that Serbia could recognise the independence of Kosovo,” Tanjug reported.

The document also mentioned giving “privileged status” for the Serbian Orthodox Church, and proposes that both Kosovo and Serbia make constitutional amendments to enable implementation of this deal.

According to the document, the EU will continue to facilitate the process leading to a legally binding agreement to resolve all open questions.

Belgrade and Pristina would have to amend their constitutions to ensure the implementation of the agreement, with Serbia agreeing not to oppose Kosovo’s requests for membership in international organisations and both sides recognising each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

The document stated that Vucic and Kurti would lead the discussions on finalisation of the normalisation agreement that should be concluded before the end of February 2022.