Serbian lawmakers to meet in tense Kosovo on secession anniversary
Serbia's parliament plans to hold a provocative session in Kosovo Tuesday, in a move that could stir tensions as the former province celebrates the anniversary of its independence from Serbia that day, media reports said Sunday, dpa reported.
Most of the 250 Serbian lawmakers plan to travel to Kosovo at the invitation of Serbs in the northern enclave of Mitrovica, parliament speaker Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic told the Beta news agency.
She said transport had been secured to Zvecan, a five-hour car ride to the south of Belgrade. Serbian parliamentarians are due to sit in at the Kosovo Serb parliament - which operates informally, outside of Kosovo's legal system.
The majority Albanian leaders have already declared the plan a "provocation." Pristina declared independence from Serbia a year ago on Tuesday and is struggling to gain full international recognition.
"It is a provocation. Unfortunately, the new government of Serbia continues with the old policies in Kosovo," Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu's spokesman, Xhavit Haliti, said Sunday in Pristina.
Belgrade and Kosovo's Serbs rejected the secession of Kosovo, which Serbia claims as its own heartland territory. Serbia financially supports the parallel authorities in the north and strongly discourages the Serbs from cooperating with the government in Pristina.
Pristina remained unable to assert its authority and snatch the northern quarter of the territory from Belgrade's control because there is no clear resolve on Kosovo within the international community.
While 54 countries worldwide, including the United States, most European Union nations and Japan, recognize Kosovo, it has not been able to join the United Nations owing to strong opposition by Serbia's superpower ally, Russia.
A decade after NATO ousted Serbian security forces from Kosovo to end ethnic violence there, Kosovo remains under international supervision, provided by a long-running UN mission and a recently started EU one.