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Serbia's predominantly Bosniak community in Sandzak initiates a political effort to move from the status quo.

Chief mufti Muamer Zukorlic has been criticising the Belgrade government, calling for the deployment of EU foreign monitors to Sandzak. [Beta]

Serbia's government has been trying to broker talks among the country's fractious Bosniak community, with the goal of resolving disputes that emerged after the June elections for the Bosniak National Council. Though the negotiations have not yielded results so far, analysts say they are a positive move.

The election victory of the Bosniak Cultural Community, led by Sandzak's chief mufti Muamer Zukorlic, brought relations among the three Bosniak community groups in Serbia to a halt. The majority of votes went to the the Council, led by Zukorlic. The ticket backed by the Sandzak Democratic Party, led by Serbian Labour Minister Rasim Ljajic, won five seats, while Minister Sulejman Ugljanin's Party of Democratic Action won 13 seats.

The Council was formed only after two representatives from Ljajic's party switched over to Zukorlic's side. But the Human and Minority Rights Ministry then decided not to recognise the Council.

Since then, Zukorlic has been criticising the Belgrade government, calling for the deployment of EU foreign monitors to Sandzak.

Human and Minority Rights Minister Svetozar Ciplic managed to gather the three Bosniak groups for talks in Belgrade last month. "Nothing is set in stone and the Bosniak Cultural Community began discussing what should be done to convene the Bosniak Council," he said.

The second round of talks, on October 1st in Sandzak, failed when the Bosniak Cultural Community did not show up. The other two parties accused Zukorlic of boycotting the talks and politicising the Sandzak problems.

On October 3rd, Zukorlic's spokesman Samir Tandir told SETimes that the party favours talks, but that "as an authentic representative of the Bosniaks, our ticket should negotiate with Belgrade government officials, rather than with those who caused the problems in Sandzak in the first place."

"Our permanent stance is dialogue, but we should talk about the entire problem in Sandzak with the representatives of the Serbian government, rather than the forming of the Council. The authorities must fully respect the constitution and laws when it comes to the Bosniak community," Tandir said.

Igor Jovanovic 
Southeast European Times 


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