"Southern Serbia ready to join Kosovo"

PRIŠTINA -- A Kosovo Albanian official says that if Serbs from northern Kosovo wish to "secede", then "Albanians in southern Serbia are ready to join Kosovo".

“If some of the Serbs are not ready to live in the northern part and think that they can separate from Kosovo, then the Albanians of the Preševo valley are ready to join Kosovo,” the Kosovo assembly president, Jakup Krasniqi said, according to media in Priština.

The strategy of the Kosovo government and the International Civil Office (ICO) for the north is, according to Krasniqi, “very important for Kosovo Serbs", because it "creates a new municipality of Northern Mitrovica, which is an alternative that would function a lot better than the current situation".

“It would be best for (Kosovska) Mitrovica to be one municipality, however, something like that is not possible currently. The creation of a new municipality and the integration of Serbs does not call for a division, but it is not a joining either. It is an effort to implement peace and order,” Krasniqi said.

He said that Kosovo Serbs "must understand" that the Kosovo institutions “respect the law on the entire territory of Kosovo".

The northern parts of the province are predominantly Serb and have rejected the Kosovo Albanian unilateral independence declaration made two years ago.

The southern municipalities of central Serbia – Preševo, Bujanovac, and Medveđa – are home to the country's largest ethnic Albanian population outside of Kosovo.