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Kosovo Serbs to boycott parliament over mine decision

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA (KOSOVO) (AFP) – 

Kosovo Serbs on Sunday said they would boycott both parliament and government over Pristina’s decision to transform mining conglomerate Trepca into a state company, a Serb minister said.

A bill adopted on Saturday gave the government an 80 percent stake in the Trepca mine complex.

But Serbs claim that Trepca, in the Mitrovica area, is Serbian property, arguing that Belgrade invested in it while Kosovo was its southern province and opposed the company’s transformation.

“Following this wrong decision… we decided to freeze our posts,” Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister, Serb Branimir Stojanovic told AFP.

“It is unacceptable that our voice was not heard nor taken into account when the draft was debated in government. We expect a minimum of consensus in our cooperation with the government on all important things, which now is not the case,” Stojanovic said.

Kosovo Serbs are part of ruling coalition and without their cooperation the government does not have the two-thirds majority needed for decisions necessary for the territory’s integration into the European Union.

The Trepca industrial complex was one of the biggest companies in the former Yugoslavia employing more than 20,000 workers in 40 lead, zinc and silver mines and factories.

Nowadays it employs only a few thousand people and comprises only seven lead and zinc mines, three concentrators, one smelter and one zinc plant.

Control over the resource-rich Trepca mines has been a bone of contention between Kosovo’s rival Albanian and Serb ethnic communities since the end of the 1998-1999 war.

The ethnic Albanian majority proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. More than 100 countries have since recognised Kosovo, but not Serbia nor its ally Russia.

Since 2011 Belgrade and Pristina have been negotiating under EU auspices to improve their ties, but a number of issues remain unresolved, including disputed state property and an international telephone code for Kosovo.

© 2016 AFP

Article source: http://www.france24.com/en/20161009-kosovo-serbs-boycott-parliament-over-mine-decision