Brussels Agreement (2013)
|Context||normalizations of Kosovo–Serbia relations|
|Signed||19 April 2013|
The Brussels Agreement (Serbian: Бриселски споразум / Briselski sporazum, Albanian: Marrëveshja e Brukselit) was made between the governments of Serbia and Kosovo[a] on the normalization of their relations. It was negotiated and concluded, although not signed by either party, 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 Catherine Ashton. The agreement was concluded on 19 April 2013. The government of Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state, but has begun to normalize relations with the government of Kosovo in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.
Following the Kosovo War and NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Kosovo, as part of Serbia and Yugoslavia, was placed under United Nations administration under UNSC Resolution 1244. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence and has since been recognized by 102 countries.
So far ten rounds of talks were held at the European External Action Service office in Brussels. Baroness Ashton, the EU High Representative, had been chairing talks for two years, followed by Federica Mogherini. Normalization of relations with neighbouring states is a key precondition for states wishing to join the EU; the Brussels Agreement brought Serbia close to EU accession talks and Kosovo to initialling a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). The SAA was signed by HR Mogherini and PM Mustafa in October 2015. One of the most difficult problems still is removing the parallel Serbian structures in the Northern part of Kosovo until full sovereignty.
U.S. diplomats supported the EU-led dialogue from the beginning. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Baroness Ashton to undertake joint travel in the Balkans, and the two made joint visits to Belgrade and Pristina (as well as Sarajevo) in October 2012. Clinton assigned Deputy Assistant Secretary of State ambassador 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 during visits to the region.
The result was a 15-point "First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalisation of Relations", initialed but not signed on 19 April 2013.
After the agreement was concluded, the European Commission officially advised that work 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.
With just 2 pages, the agreement has 15 very short paragraphs. Paragraphs 1 to 6 concern the establishment, scope and functions of a proposed "Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo". Paragraphs 7 to 9 concern police and security structures and include that there shall be one police force for all of Kosovo including its northern parts to be called "Kosovo Police". Paragraph 11 provides that municipal elections shall be held in all of Kosovo under Kosovo law. Paragraph 12 provides for the creation of an implementation plan and specifies a date (since lapsed) by which the plan would be concluded. Paragraph 13 contains an undertaking to intensify discussions on energy and telecoms. Paragraph 14 provides that "neither side will block, or encourage others to block, the other side's progress in their respective EU paths". Paragraph 15 envisages the establishment of an implementation committee with the facilitation of the EU.
Politically, the document is intended to agree the integration of the Serb-majority municipalities in Northern Kosovo into the Kosovo legal system, while providing certain guarantees. The guarantees are that: - all judicial matters are under the law of Kosovo, but Kosovo Serbs must be a majority of certain judicial panels, and a panel (Mitrovica District Court) must sit in Northern Mitrovica; -all policing is to be done by the Kosovo Police, but the Police Regional Commander for the Serb-majority areas must be a Kosovo Serb, chosen from a list provided by Kosovo Serb municipalities.
- There will be an Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo. Membership will be open to any other municipalities provided the members are in agreement.
- 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 2/3 majority rule).
- 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.
- 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.
- The Association/Community will exercise other additional competences as may be delegated by the central authorities.
- 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 rile a monitoring function is envisaged.
- There shall be one police force in Kosovo called Kosovo Police. All police in northern Kosovo shall be integrated in the Kosovo Police framework. Salaries will be only from the KP.
- Members of other Serbian security structures will be offered a place in equivalent Kosovo structures.
- 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 Internal Affairs 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 in the four municipalities. (There will be another Regional Commander for the municipalities of Mitrovica South, Srbica and Vucitrn). The regional commander of the four municipalities will cooperate with other regional commanders.
- 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. A division of the 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 dependent on the nature of the case involved.
- 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.
- An implementation plan including time frame shall be produced by April 26. In implementing this agreement the principle of transparent funding will be addressed.
- Discussions on Energy and Telecoms will be intensified by the two sides and completed by June 15.
- It is agreed that neither side will block, or encourage others to block, the other side's progress in their respective EU paths.
- An implementation committee will be established by the two sides, with the facilitation of the EU.
After the Brussels Agreement, meetings are held regularly to bring about implementation of the provisions in different areas. In February 2015 a Justice agreement was concluded, followed by agreements on energy and telecom operators. On Aug. 25, 2015, an agreement was reached for the establishment of the Association of Serbian Comunitiers, the core of the Brussels Agreement. The statutes have yet to be drafted.
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. It was agreed that electoral bodies in Kosovo would include Kosovo Serb representatives and that international dialing code +383 would be attributed to Kosovo. The new code was expected to go into effect in late 2015 but has again been delayed by Serbia until March 2016. The geographic phone code was implemented in December 2016.
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.
The National Assembly of Serbia has not treated the agreement as international, and has not ratified it into a binding law, which is a procedure required for international agreements in Serbia. It has, however, merely accepted the government report about the "hitherto process of political and technical dialog with the temporary institutions in Pristina with the mediation of EU, including the process of implementation of the achieved agreements". The constitutional court in Belgrade, did not answer the question about constitutionality of the agreement, stating in December 2014, that the issue raised is a political question, and not a legal one.
Serbia has accepted, however, that progress in implementing the Brussels agreement is a prerequisite for EU accession talks within the opening of Chapter 35 negotiations in December 2015.
- As to the agreement not having been signed, see text of agreement.
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Српски експерт за међународно право Смиља Аврамов оцијенила је да споразум између Београда и Приштине представља индиректно признање самопроглашеног Косова и поручила да је њиме погажена Повеља УН која Србији гарантује територијални интегритет....Јелена Гускова: Споразум Београда и Приштине је уговор о признању независности Косова
- ""Briselski sporazum je politički" - B92.net". B92.net (in Serbian). Retrieved 2017-03-20.
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 10 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.