News / Europe

Kosovo Adopts Amnesty for Minority Serbs

FILE - Ethnics Serbs attend an Orthodox Easter mass at Saint Sava church in Mitrovica, Kosovo, May 5, 2013.FILE - Ethnics Serbs attend an Orthodox Easter mass at Saint Sava church in Mitrovica, Kosovo, May 5, 2013.
x
FILE - Ethnics Serbs attend an Orthodox Easter mass at Saint Sava church in Mitrovica, Kosovo, May 5, 2013.
FILE - Ethnics Serbs attend an Orthodox Easter mass at Saint Sava church in Mitrovica, Kosovo, May 5, 2013.
Reuters
— Kosovo adopted an amnesty on Thursday for minority Serbs who previously rebelled against the government, a significant step in settling relations with former master Serbia so both can move closer to the European Union.
 
The law pardons local Serbs who agitated against the authority of Kosovo's government after the majority-Albanian territory declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
 
It is an important component of an EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia, signed in April, that opened the door to EU accession talks for Belgrade and allows Pristina to extend its authority to a northern, Serb-populated pocket of Kosovo for the first time since a 1998-99 war.
 
“In a fragile democracy, such as the one in which we live, laws aim to change reality for good,” Kosovo's deputy prime minister, Hajredin Kuci, told lawmakers before the vote.
 
Ninety of parliament's 120 deputies voted in favor. Only the opposition Vetevendosje (Self-determination) party opposed the bill.
 
The law pardons offenses including armed rebellion, espionage, inciting national, racial, religious or ethnic hatred, arson, illegal possession of weapons and endangering the territorial integrity of Kosovo.
 
Some 50,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo have long rejected the authority of Pristina, its government, laws and courts. They have lived in a legal limbo since the war, their enclave operating de facto as part of the Serbian state.
 
Armed Serbs burned down border posts after Kosovo's declaration of independence and erected barricades to cement the partition.
 
Under the April accord, the north will be integrated into the Kosovo legal system, though implementation is fraught with risks in a region bristling with weapons and deep animosity.
 
Serbia hopes it will be enough to clinch the start of EU accession talks in January 2014.
 
Kosovo's Western backers urged the adoption of the amnesty this week as a “critical step” in integrating all of Kosovo's 1.7 million people.
 
Serbia lost control over its southern province in 1999, when NATO bombed for 11 weeks to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces trying to crush a guerrilla insurgency.
 
Kosovo has been recognized by 100 countries, including the United States and 23 of the EU's 28 members.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid