Serbian Parliamentarians Clash in Tense Debate on Kosovo

Lazy eyes listen


On Thursday, Serbian parliamentarians came dangerously close to physical conflict when the President addressed a special session on the so-called Franco-German plan to resolve Serbia-Kosovo relations.

During a debate about the former province of Kosovo and a European proposal to resolve Serbia-Kosovo relations, members of the Serbian parliament from both the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, SNS, and the opposition came into physical conflict.

During President Aleksandar Vucic’s response to an MP’s speech, MPs confronted each other. Some opposition MPs approached Vucic, claiming that their procedural rights were being violated, which prompted ruling party MPs to approach the opposition, with both sides yelling at each other as Vucic attempted to speak.

During Vucic’s speech, some opposition MPs held banners that read, “No to capitulation,” “Treason,” and “Vucic, you betrayed Kosovo,” alluding to his meetings about the so-called Franco-German proposal for future relations with Kosovo.

Another read, “You will be held accountable,” and featured a photo of Oliver Ivanovic, a murdered Kosovo Serb politician who opposed the Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party Srpska lista.

Officially, the only item on the agenda was a report on the process of negotiations “with the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina,” as Serbia refers to Kosovo’s government, which it does not recognize.

The atmosphere deteriorated further during the discussion of the so-called Franco-German plan.

The opposition accused Vucic of negotiating about a non-public plan and chastised him for negotiating at all.

The president of the Green-left club, Radomir Lazovic, urged Vucic to make the Franco-German, or European, proposal public.

“Can you tell me where it is? Why did you keep it hidden? Why did none of the 250 deputies in this Chamber have the opportunity to learn about it?” Lazovic inquired. In response to Lazovic, Vucic said he “does not have right to publish it”.

Vucic claimed during his speech that “90% of what was made public” about the plan was true. He read parts of the plan aloud, saying that the preamble was fine for Serbia, but that the main danger was in point 4.

“In point 4, the second paragraph says, ‘Serbia will not oppose Kosovo’s membership in any international organization,'” Vucic said.

In statements in 2022, Vucic claimed that the proposal implied Serbia’s acceptance of Kosovo’s membership in the UN.

The proposal was dubbed a “ultimatum” by Bosko Obradovic, leader of the right-wing Dveri party.

“The conclusion of the National Assembly session on Kosovo and Metohija should be… that the National Assembly rejects in its entirety, without delay, the Franco-German proposal that the President has already accepted to apply without authorization, against our will,” Obradovic said.

Members of the Serbian Parliament hold up a banner reading: ‘Vucic, you betrayed Kosovo’ during a session in Belgrade.

The session was scheduled after Vucic met with EU and US representatives on January 20, who he claims told him that if Serbia does not accept the proposal, its EU integration process will be halted and investments will be blocked.

Miroslav Lajcak, the EU’s special representative for Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, told reporters in Belgrade after the meeting that he and his EU and US colleagues were “encouraged” by the meeting.

While the Franco-German proposal was never made public, Belgrade and Brussels-based media published what they claimed was a leaked copy in November 2022.

It allegedly requires both sides to “develop normal, good neighbourly relations with each other based on equal rights”; to “reaffirm the inviolability now and in the future of the frontier/boundary existing between them and undertake fully to respect each other’s territorial integrity”; also to exchange “permanent missions” and commit to “mutual respect of each party’s jurisdiction”.

Experts told BIRN in November that the leaked draft appeared to be based on the 1972 Basic Treaty, which de facto recognized East and West Germany, but without the word “recognition” appearing in the text.

The EU appears to have coalesced around the Franco-German proposal, which the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has stressed is in fact a “European” proposal, in order to stabilize the region in the aftermath of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“The so-called ‘Franco-German proposal’ is actually Franco-German support for my and [EU envoy] Miroslav Lajcak’s proposal,” he explained.