The Association of Serb municipalities
The agreement has not yet begun to be implemented
The main part of the First Agreement on Principles Regulating the Normalization of Relations (the Brussels Agreement) is dedicated to the establishment of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities (ASM).
The Agreement envisaged the establishment of the Community/Association of Municipalities with Majority Serb Population in Kosovo – Northern Mitrovica, Zubin Potok, Zvečan, Leposavić, Gračanica, Štrpce, Novo Brdo, Klokot, Ranilug and Parteš.
The idea of the Brussels Agreement, in particular of the ASM, is to facilitate the full integration of Kosovar Serbs (from the four Northern municipalities) into Kosovo’s system, as well as that of the institutions functioning within the Serbian system, including educational and health care institutions.
In accordance with the competences endowed by the European Charter of Local Self-Government and with Kosovo’s legislation, the participating municipalities shall be entitled to cooperation in collective execution of powers through the Community/Association, which shall have oversight of the areas of economic development, education, health care, town planning and rural development. This community shall be established pursuant to its Statute.
In August 2015, Kosovo and Serbia reached the Agreement on General Principles/Main Elements of the ASM defining the goals, organizational set-up, relations with the central authorities, legal capacities, budget and support to the ASM.
The support to this Agreement was lacked in Kosovo; it was criticized by the opposition and the public, causing crisis and massive protests. The petition against this agreement launched by the opposition was signed by 200,000 citizens.
In such an atmosphere, the President of Kosovo asked the Constitutional Court on 31 October 2015 to assess the constitutionality of the ASM’s general principles.
Although the court deemed constitutional the ASM’s establishment in keeping with the First Agreement on Normalization of Relations, ratified by the Parliament of Kosovo, it assessed its certain provisions from 2015 as non-constitutional:
The goals, organizational set-up, budget, financial support and general provisions are beyond the framework of Kosovo’s Constitution in the area of local self-government;
The right to legislative initiative envisaged also for the ASM under the 2015 Agreement belongs solely to Kosovo’s President, Government, Members of Parliament or a minimum of ten thousand citizens.
The Constitutional Court also deemed that the ANM could not be conferred exclusive powers to represent the interests of the Serbian community in Kosovo and in relations to the central authorities.
Following this decision, the implementation of the Agreement became impossible, given the unwillingness of both parties to agree to further compromises.
While Priština is insisting on the implementation of the 2013 Agreement, not envisaging any exeutive powers for the ASM, Belgrade would accept only the establishment of the ASM in accordance with the Agreement on General Principles/Key Elements as agreed in Brussels in 2015.
In April 2018, the European Union confirmed the mandate of the ASM managerial team tasked with drafting the Association’s statute, however, although the Serb party claims the statute developed, it has not been presented to the EU or the public in Serbia or Kosovo to date.