Embassies of five Western countries said that Pristina is failing to uphold the rights of an ethnic minority group by refusing to allow Serbs to vote in Kosovo in the upcoming Serbian elections.

The government of Kosovo “failed to demonstrate its commitment to the principle of protecting the civil and political rights of all its citizens, including members of minority groups” by not allowing polling stations to be organised for Serbs to vote in the April 3 Serbian elections, the embassies of five Western countries said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The French, German, Italian, British and United States embassies in Pristina and Belgrade said in their statement that they have “intensely engaged with the governments of Kosovo and Serbia in the past months in order to find a pragmatic solution to allow eligible Kosovo citizens to exercise their right to participate in Serbia’s elections on April 3, 2022”.

Serbs from Kosovo with voting rights in Serbia have previously voted in municipalities in which they live, with the OSCE dealing with the logistical process.

For the upcoming elections however, Kosovo has not yet agreed to allow this to happen. It also did not allow voting in a Serbian referendum in January.

Kosovo wants the Serbian government to ask it for permission to organise the voting. However, Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state.

“I would not say the government of the republic [of Kosovo] took a decision not to hold the Serbian elections, but the truth is there was no agreement. We expected letters with a request,” Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti told media on Wednesday.

The five embassies’ joint statement said that they “acknowledge that it is the Kosovo government’s prerogative to decide whether or not to permit facilitation of voting in another country’s elections”.

“While we appreciate Serbia’s availability to find a solution, it is with great disappointment that we take note of the Kosovo Government’s decision to reject a constructive proposal [suggested by the embassies],” it added.

It added that the Kosovo government’s attitude “is not in line with our values and principles and will undermine its European aspirations”.

At the meeting of the parliamentary committee on European integration on Tuesday, Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi claimed that the government “is ready to assist in the Serbian elections in harmony with the best practices of EU countries”.

“We did not see readiness on the Serbian part to follow these practices… the Serbian government has been reluctant to address Kosovo about organising the elections,” Bislimi said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after meeting political representatives of Kosovo Serbs on Tuesday evening that they now want to withdraw from Kosovo’s state institutions and stage protests over the issue.

On January 15, Kosovo’s parliament adopted a resolution that opposed allowing voting in Serbian elections on Kosovo’s territory.

Prime Minister Kurti said on Friday that he wants to uphold that resolution but not to “make it impossible” for “citizens of Kosovo who may be bearers of Serbian passports to exercise their right to vote”.