Government in neighbouring Serbia, which rejects former province’s independence, warns of ‘threat to regional stability’ if agreement is not honoured
Kosovo’s constitutional court has put on hold an EU-brokered agreement that would give greater powers to local Serb communities after it was challenged by the opposition, which wants the deal scrapped.
Neighbouring Serbia, which does not recognise the sovereignty of its former province, immediately denounced the court’s ruling as an unprecedented violation of the agreement mapped out in Brussels.
The agreement, which would grant ethnic Serb areas in Kosovo greater local powers with the possibility of funding from Belgrade, have sparked opposition-led street protests and rowdy scenes in Kosovo’s parliament chamber.
Bowing to the opposition, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga asked the court to rule on whether the deal was acceptable under the constitution.
In its ruling the court said it was suspending implementation “of any further legal actions” until there had been a final verdict. It was not clear when this would be handed down though Kosovo’s media said it could happen in two months.
There was no immediate reaction from government.
The Serbian foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, said the decision was an unprecedented violation of the agreement reached in Brussels and a “threat to regional stability”.
“Pristina is mocking both the international community and the European Union,” Dacic said.
Both Kosovo and Serbia aspire to joining the European Union but they need to normalise their relations first.
Though Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as sovereign, it signed up to an accord in 2013 designed to settle relations as a condition of Belgrade’s further progress towards EU membership.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 almost a decade after Nato went to war to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian forces trying to crush an insurgency.
The new country, where Albanians make up 90% of the population, is so far recognised by 111 states but not by Serbia or UN security council members Russia and China.