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Serbia, Kosovo at odds over municipal governance in Kosovo

June 6, 2024

Twenty-five years after the end of the Kosovo war, relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain difficult. One main bone of contention is whether or not to set up an association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo. Ethnic Serbs see it as a way to exercise their collective rights; Kosovar Albanians see it as a threat to Kosovo's future.


The Kumanovo Agreement, which ended both the war in Kosovo and the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO, was signed 25 years ago on June 9, 1999. But although a quarter of a century has passed, tensions between Serbia and Kosovo persist.

Almost nine years after the war ended, Kosovo officially declared its independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. Although the Republic of Kosovo has already been recognized by some 100 countries worldwide, Serbia still refuses to do so. 

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina center on northern Kosovo, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Serbs, who refuse to accept Kosovo's authority. A decade of negotiations mediated by the European Union have resulted in several agreements, which have only been partially implemented. 

At present, the biggest bone of contention between the two neighboring countries is the proposal to set up what is known as the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities, which would allow Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo to work closely with each other to exercise their authority. Kosovo Serbs see it as a path toward exercising their collective rights. Kosovar Albanians, on the other hand, see it as a threat to the future of Kosovo.