Kosovo’s parliament on Saturday passed a resolution banning ethnic Serbs from voting on Kosovan soil in Serbia’s national referendum on constitutional amendments.
Serbia will hold a referendum on Sunday on an amendment to the constitution that will change how judges and prosecutors are chosen, the government says is aimed at securing an independent judiciary, a prerequisite for EU membership.
The missions of Kosovo’s independence supporters—the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the European Union—urged Prime Minister Albin Kurti to allow Serbs in Kosovo to vote in the referendum.
But in an extraordinary session on Saturday afternoon, 76 out of 120 delegates voted in favor of Serbia announcing a ban on opening polling stations in Kosovo.
Kurti told parliament that setting up polling stations in Kosovo’s majority Serb regions would be against the constitution, and ethnic Serbs could vote by mail or at Belgrade’s government liaison office in Pristina.
“Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state and should be treated as such,” Kurti said.
Serbia, which still considers Kosovo as part of its territory, has been holding elections for its ethnic relatives since the Kosovo War ended in 1999.
Serbia refused to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, but has pledged to normalize relations with its former separate province before joining the European Union.
The head of the Serbian Office for Cooperation with Kosovo said the ban was aimed at “abolition of the political and civil rights of Serbs”. [in Kosovo],
“Kurti and his extremists should not think that in the future they will be successful in banning Serbs from voting in Kosovo, especially in the elections to be held on 3 April,” Petr Petkovic said in a statement.
Presidential and parliamentary elections are being held in Serbia on 3 April. On Saturday morning, Kosovo police seized two Serbian Electoral Commission trucks carrying ballots as they crossed the border into Merdare on their way to Serb-majority areas.
Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union said in their joint statement, “We call on the Government of Kosovo to allow Serbs in Kosovo to exercise their right to vote in elections and electoral processes ” Friday.