Serbia calls for Kumanovo Agreement amendments; Kosovo says no

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Under the 1999 agreement, the Serbian Army needs the KFOR commander’s permission to enter the Ground Safety Zone.

Top Serbian officials have called for amendments to the Kumanovo Agreement – which officials of former Yugoslavia and NATO signed on June 9th 1999 to end NATO action in Serbia during the Kosovo conflict.

The agreement between Serbia and Kosovo established a Ground Safety Zone that extends 5km beyond the Kosovo border into the rest of former Yugoslav territory, which troops of the former Yugoslav Army could not enter without the permission of the KFOR commander in Kosovo. It also established a 25km no-fly zone. Attitudes towards the zones have eased over the past nine years.

The agreement also gives the KFOR commander the option of calling up to 1,000 Serbian soldiers to Kosovo, primarily for the protection of Christian monuments and Serb settlements.

Serbian officials consider the agreement outdated because NATO and Serbia are no longer wartime foes and because Serbia joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme.

"Serbia has demonstrated it is a factor of stability in the region. … There is no objective security reason why [a no-fly zone] should exist," Serbian President Boris Tadic told the Belgrade daily <i>Politika</i>.

Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac said revising the Kumanovo Agreement would not mean the return of the Serbian Army to Kosovo, despite the provision allowing 1,000 troops to return to the former province.

He called it "absurd" that the Serbian Army’s presence on the border with Kosovo depends on the KFOR commander.

Pristina was dismissive of Belgrade’s arguments. On Sunday, former Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku blasted the idea of modifying the agreement.

"The Kumanovo Agreement meant the capitulation of then-Yugoslavia and Serbia. Any attempt to revise it is part of a diplomatic campaign by Serbia to impose its stances and agenda on NATO," Ceku said.

Incumbent Prime Minister Hashim Thaci echoed those sentiments. "Every Serb soldier and the Serb administration left Kosovo, but Belgrade’s dream remains," he said.

Kosovo has "its army, its security organs and NATO", and Kosovo’s "sovereignty and integrity are inalienable", he added. Analysts predict the biggest benefit to Belgrade from modifying the agreement would be the ability to make military decisions in the Ground Safety Zone without KFOR’s consent. The zone includes southern Serbian municipalities with a large ethnic Albanian population.

Serbian Army Chief of Staff General Zdravko Ponos said talks with NATO on the matter may start later this month.

NATO representatives have not made any official statements regarding the initiative, however an anonymous NATO source told local media the Alliance is highly unlikely to revise the pact while EULEX, the EU’s mission to Kosovo, prepares to deploy.

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Posted by on Дек. 9 2008. Filed under Скандално. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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