Belgrade – Serbia’s President Boris Tadic and his military chief-of-staff, say changes need to be made to the Kosovo peace deal that ended the NATO-led air strikes on Serbia in 1999.
Army Chief Zdravko Ponos said that he would discuss the matter with NATO officials about changes to the so-called Kumanovo Agreement. He said he feels the changes are necessary because of the fact that “Serbia and NATO are no longer at war.”
Tadic backed the initiative, stating that there are no security reasons to keep the no-fly zone and ground security zone in south Serbia.
The military-technical agreement was signed in 1999 after the NATO alliance’s 78-day military campaign ended the conflict between Serbian forces and Kosovo Albanian rebels, pushing the Serbian military out of Kosovo. The United Nations administration and a military presence enforced by NATO peacekeepers has been in Kosovo ever since.
Ponos believes that recent circumstances such as Kosovo’s unilateral independence declaration and the recently approved UN plan for deploying a new European Union law-and-order mission, EULEX, to Kosovo, are good reasons for reconfiguring the Kumanovo Agreement as well.
Military experts believe that Kosovo would most likely oppose the changing of the agreement, which confirms the UN’s Security Council Resolution 1244 which states that Kosovo is under Serbia’s sovereignty.
Pristina would also have no say in the eventual talks because the agreement was signed between Belgrade and NATO, separating the two warring sides in 1999 and setting up a 1,920 square kilometer ground safety zone in which Serbian military and elite police groups are currently based.
Tadic said that Serbia has shown that it is a factor of stability in the region and that the agreement should be amended to confirm that.
In an interview with Belgrade daily, Politika, Tadic also reiterated that Serbia believes giving Pristina the right to form its own security forces was a mistake.
Meanwhile some observers argue that Belgrade may use the opportunity to revise the 1999 Kumanovo agreement to seek the right to redeploy its army and police forces in the northern part of Kosovo, which is dominated by Serbs.