Brussels Agreement (2013)
The Brussels Agreement (Albanian: Marrëveshja e Brukselit; Serbian: Бриселски споразум / Briselski sporazum) was signed between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo on normalization of their relations. It was negotiated and signed in Brussels under the auspices of the European Union. The negotiations were led by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, and mediated by EU High Representative Baroness Ashton. The agreement was formally signed on 19 April 2013.
Following the Kosovo War and NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Kosovo was under United Nations administration under UNSC Resolution 1244 until Kosovo declared independence in 2008 against the wishes of Serbia, receiving mixed international recognition. Serbia continues to deny recognition.
There were ten rounds of talks at the EEAS office in Brussels. Baroness Ashton, the EU High Representative, had been chairing talks for two years. Relations between Kosovo and Serbia had previously been difficult. Normalisation of relations with neighbours is a key precondition for states wanting to join the EU; the Brussels Agreement was a step closer towards Kosovo signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. One of the most difficult problems was the status of ethnic Serbs living in North Kosovo.
U.S. Diplomats supported the Dialogue from the beginning. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Baroness Ashton to join travel in the Balkans. They made unprecedented joint visits to Belgeade and Pristina (and Sarajevo) in October 2012. Clinton assigned Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Amb. Philip Reeker to support Ashton's efforts. Reeker and his team coordinated closely with EU colleagues, and met with Serbian and Kosovar representatives on the margins of every Dialogue session in Brussels, and in visits to the region.
The result was a 15-point "First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalisation of Relations", signed on 19 April.
After the agreement was signed, the European Commission officially advised that work should start on an SAA with Kosovo, and accession negotiations began with Serbia. The agreement was supported by the European Union, NATO, the OSCE, and the United Nations.
The key points of the agreement are:
- 1. There will be an Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo. Membership will be open to any other municipality provided the members are in agreement.
- 2. The Community/Association will be created by statute. Its dissolution shall only take place by a decision of the participating municipalities. Legal guarantees will be provided by applicable law and constitutional law (including the 2/3 majority rule).
- 3. The structures of the Association/Community will be established on the same basis as the existing statute of the Association of Kosovo municipalities e.g. President, vice President, Assembly, Council.
- 4. In accordance with the competences given by the European Charter of Local Self Government and Kosovo law the participating municipalities shall be entitled to cooperate in exercising their powers through the Community/Association collectively. The Association/Community will have full overview of the areas of economic development, education, health, urban and rural planning.
- 5. The Association/Community will exercise other additional competences as may be delegated by the central authorities.
- 6. The Community/Association shall have a representative role to the central authorities and will have a seat in the communities’ consultative council for this purpose. In the pursuit of this role a monitoring function is envisaged.
- 7. There shall be one police force in Kosovo called the Kosovo Police. All police in northern Kosovo shall be integrated in the Kosovo Police framework. Salaries will be only from the KP.
- 8. Members of other Serbian security structures will be offered a place in equivalent Kosovo structures.
- 9. There shall be a Police Regional Commander for the four northern Serb majority municipalities (Northern Mitrovica, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic). The Commander of this region shall be a Kosovo Serb nominated by the Ministry of Interior from a list provided by the four mayors on behalf of the Community/Association. The composition of the KP in the north will reflect the ethnic composition of the population of the four municipalities. (There will be another Regional Commander for the municipalities of Mitrovica South, Skenderaj and Vushtrri). The regional commander of the four northern municipalities will cooperate with other regional commanders.
- 10. The judicial authorities will be integrated and operate within the Kosovo legal framework. The Appellate Court in Pristina will establish a panel composed of a majority of K/S judges to deal with all Kosovo Serb majority municipalities.
- 11. A division of this Appellate Court, composed both by administrative staff and judges will sit permanently in northern Mitrovica (Mitrovica District Court). Each panel of the above division will be composed by a majority of K/S judges. Appropriate judges will sit dependant on the nature of the case involved.
- 12. Municipal elections shall be organized in the northern municipalities in 2013 with the facilitation of the OSCE in accordance with Kosovo law and international standards.
- 13. Discussions on Energy and Telecoms will be intensified by the two sides and completed by June 15.
- 14. It is agreed that neither side will block, or encourage others to block, the other side’s progress in their respective EU paths.
- 15. An implementation committee will be established by the two sides, with the facilitation of the EU.
After the Brussels Agreement, further discussions were held in August 2013, to implement some of the items agreed earlier, and to deal with issues in the energy and telecoms industries.
There were also concerns about how the 2013 local-government elections in Kosovo would be administered; the government of Serbia objected to any mention of "the state of Kosovo" on ballot papers. The government of Serbia agreed that it should encourage Serbs in northern Kosovo to get involved in these local elections.
In October 2013, arrangements were made for Serbian officials to visit North Kosovo, and electoral bodies in Kosovo would include Kosovo Serb representatives It was also agreed to allocate the international dialling code 383 to Kosovo.
Some scholars, including Smilja Avramov and Elena Guskova, stated that the Brussels Agreement violates the Constitution of Serbia and the United Nations Charter and represents an indirect recognition of the independence of Kosovo.
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