The International Civilian Representative Pieter Feith has praised the work of Kosovo’s Central Election Commission, CEC, during a visit to the institution in the run-up to the 15 November local elections.
He said on Wednesday that great efforts were being made to ensure fair and democratic elections. He also said that he expects Kosovo to ”pass the democratic test” and encouraged all Kosovo people to vote.
The elections will be the first held in Kosovo since the country declared independence in February 2008.
Feith said Kosovo’s Serbs should make up their own minds on whether to vote, despite calls from Serbia and some Kosovo Serbs to boycott the elections.
“We have discussed the matter of eligibility,” said Feith. “All voters with IDs can vote. The Serb community can vote, also the ones who have Serbian passports.”
In the BIRN Kosovo show Life in Kosovo, the Serbian Minister of Interior, Ivica Dacic, said Kosovo Serbs would not be punished for voting in the local elections. He added however that he could not encourage them to vote, as this would indicate recognition of Kosovo’s independent institutions.
Oliver Ivanovic, Belgrade’s Minister for Kosovo, told the Serbian Tanjug news agency that those elected to Pristina’s institutions cannot carry on working for Beglrade.
He added: “I am afraid that they [the Serb candidates] do not understand that by participating in the elections they fall into a trap, because, this can bring all Serbs into a confrontation with the Serbian government.”
Performing his other role of EU Special Representative, Feith also met Darko Aleksov, head of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations.
Feith said: “The upcoming local elections are crucial for the democratic development of Kosovo and the establishment of a multi-ethnic society.
Aleksov added: “These elections represent an opportunity for all communities to gain adequate democratic representation at the local level. The presence of [our] elections observations mission will ensure that an independent and competent assessment of the local elections can be made.”
“The citizens of Kosovo and its authorities through the conduct and organisation of free and fair elections in accordance with the international standards will have the unique opportunity to manifest democratic maturity and civic awareness,” he added.