Protests in Kosovo: “We fear Serbia will take back the country’s north”

Police charge towards protesters during a demonstration by the Self-Determination party in Pristina on 22nd of October 2012
 
On Monday, the Kosovar nationalist party, Vetevendosje! [Self-Determination!] held a demonstration in front of the government headquarters in Pristina to protest against the resumption of talks between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. The demonstrators, including several parliamentarians, tried to storm the building but were violently pushed back by police.
 
On Friday, the Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his Serb counterpart Ivica Dacic met in Brussels under the auspices of the European Union. Discussions between the two parties began in February 2011, but this was the first meeting since the talks were suspended in spring. Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, says it wants to “normalise” relations with its neighbour. The EU and NATO want the two countries to establish closer ties as part of their membership application to the two regional bodies.
 
Although Thaci holds a parliamentary majority, he still needs to deal with active opposition from Self-Determination!, the country’s third largest political party with 14 parliamentarians in the 120-seat assembly. The nationalist party took part in a demonstration on Monday against the re-launch of the talks. The protest was quashed by the police. 23 people, including 18 police officers, were injured. 63 demonstrators were also arrested.
 
Video of the demonstration on Monday circulated by the Self-Determination party.
 
For Visar Ymeri, the head of the Self-Determination! parliamentary group, “it’s clear the negotiations will lead to the creating of an autonomous Serb region in the north of Kosovo. This will allow Serbs to move around more easily in Kosovo, and worsen our economic situation.” Visar Ymeri adds that the unemployment rate in Kosovo is 45 percent. His views highlight one of the major sticking points of the discussions: the status of North Kosovo, which has a large Serbian community. The situation is a sensitive issue in Kosovo, especially in the divided town of Mitrovica.  
 
Hashim Thaci has called on Self-Determination! to join the dialogue, but the party has refused.
 
Video of the demonstration on Tuesday morning circulated by the Self-Determination party.

"What bothers me most is that the government (...) doesn't have the legitimacy to open these discussions"

Shkelzen Gashi works for different education NGOs in Pristina. He took park in the demonstrations against the talks on Monday, but he is not affiliated with the Self-Determination party.
 
I am not completely against negotiations with Serbia, as there are many things to discuss with them. I am referring to the "disappearance of people" and the victims of war, for example.
 
However, I don’t think the current government is authorised to hold these discussions: Hashim Thaci won the elections in 2010, but all international bodies denounced electoral frauds. Therefore, he has no legitimacy as prime minister. Furthermore, he committed very serious crimes during the war of independence, and he is totally corrupt. Now, when you are corrupt and are accused of war crimes, you could be blackmailed.

"Re-establishing links with Serbia is inevitable, but the lines of discussion are very blurred"

Nérimane Kamberi is a professor of French and a journalist in Pristina.
 
For me, re-establishing links with Serbia is inevitable. Already, there is a lot of international pressure, and it’s clear that our government wants to be seen as goody two-shoes in the eyes of the European Union and the United States. Furthermore, our country is marred by very bad corruption; we lack a democratic base, and we need Europe to clean up our political system. However, the lines of discussion for the talks are very blurred. I am also scared that we will give up the north of the country to Serbia.
 
"These images of police violence shocked people, because they remind us of the time when we were part of Serbia"
 
For me, Self-Determination! is not a violent party. Rather, it is a party that annoys, precisely because it is sounding the alarm about the risk of giving away the north of the country.
 
The images of police violence like the ones we saw on Monday shocked people, because they remind us of the time when we were part of Serbia, and of police violence under [former Serbian president Slobodan] Milosevic. There are a lot of former UCK fighters [editor’s note: the former Kosovar Independence Army] in the police. It is difficult to watch them hit their own citizens.
 

Comments

You wrongly state that

You wrongly state that Thaci's government has a parliamentary majority. It does not! It is a minority government with only 57 out of 120 MPs.

Well its close... Bill@North

Well its close...
Bill@North Dakota oil

Self-determination movement is not nationalist, nor are violent.

The self-determination movement in Kosova is not nationalist at all.

They are a movement, who support the will off the people. With that being said, they are in no way against Serbs living in Kosova. They are against the Serbian states interference in Kosova, though. There's a huge difference.

They never tried to storm the parliament. They tried to block the entrances, so it would be noted, that this day (the first parliamentary meeting after Thaci-Dacic-meeting) was not a normal day.

The self-determination movement is the only member of the parliament in Kosova, which has never been in the government. All other parties have been there, with the same result: Corruption, poverty, crime, Serbian parallel structures in the northern part of Kosova, etc., etc.

They are the only members of parliament, who do not think about what they can gain from being in politics, but rather what they can give to Kosova.

The French people, given its history, should know what it is to revolt against a system, which keeps you down in all aspects of your life, while they are living a life of luxury.

The self-determination movement is against this dialogue, because the current government of Kosova is an illegitimate government, which only came in to power by systematically election fraud.

This current government has accepted talks with Serbia, without any conditions - Without any apology by the Serbian government, for the crimes of the Serbian state towards the Albanians, throughout the last 150 years. Without returning the bodies of the thousands of Albanians, who are still missing. Without returning all the riches which were stolen from Kosova, during the 80's, 90's and during the war (pension funds, etc.)

To have a dialogue with someone, requires that they see you as being equal. And that is not the case, with Kosova and Serbia. Serbia still claims, it has ownership, that it did not do any crimes, still refuses to return the riches of Kosova, etc.

These are conditions, that any reasonable human can understand. And these are the conditions the self-determination movement has said, Serbia has to accept, before Kosova should take part in these negotiations.

Je suis vraiment impressionné

Je suis vraiment impressionné par la qualité générale des articles présents sur ce site.

Très bon article, très

Très bon article, très complet et concis !

Factual inaccuracies

There are some very serious factual inaccuracies in this article.
1.You state "The demonstrators, including several parliamentarians, tried to storm the building." This is a repeat of police claims. The Self-Determination Movement has publicly stated that its goal was to blockade the Government on the first day of business after Thaci's meeting with Dacic. Demonstrators do not "storm" government buildings with tomatoes and white paint.
2. You have misquoted Visar Ymeri to imply that Self Determination Movement is against the free movement of Serbs in Kosova. You will not find any such statement in a single speech by an activist of deputy or in any document on the Self-Determination website. Self-Determination Movement is against the extending and institutionalization of the state of Serbia's power inside Kosova and argues that precisely this illegal interference is preventing Kosova's Serb citizens from being able to integrate.
3. "The protest was quashed by the police" - in fact, nonviolent protestors were brutally beaten by special police forces. There are numerous videos available showing police kicking and beating elderly protestors, dragging elected members of parliament across the ground and using a baton to strike the head of an activist who is being held prone on the ground. An activist whose sister in law was in a coma in hospital was even arrested by police inside the hospital. Furthermore, activists were severely beaten inside the police station after arrest. The extent of the violence has led Amnesty International to condemn the excessive use of force and to call for an investigation.
4. At no point do you mention what Self-Determination's position is on dialogue with Serbia - that it is opposed to dialogue with Serbia, without conditions, and when such dialogue is about Kosova's internal affairs.

Kosova

It was the french army that created the problem in north Kosova and all Balkans if not all Europe will pay for it.

Reply to comment | The Observers

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the
book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the
message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog.
An excellent read. I'll certainly be back.

There is so much wrong with

There is so much wrong with this article I don't know where to begin. Firstly, there is not such thing as a Kosovar...this insults everyone's intelligence. There are albanians, and there are serbs and then we have other minority groups. It's no secret that Albanians have a deep seeded hatred of all things Serb. Such blind rage is irrational, there have been murders and attacks at bulgarians in Kosovo because to Albanians they can't seem to tell the difference in language between Bulgarian and Serbian.

To Visar Comment: "This will allow Serbs to move around more easily in Kosovo, and worsen our economic situation" How does the free movement of Serbs in Kosovo worsen the economic situation in Kosovo. This economic collapse is direct result of Albanian causing instability in the Balkans.

Look at Albania, its economy is in shambles...not to say that other Balkan countries live by western standards but they are by far worse off. Kosovo is even worse shape now that the Serbs were ethnically cleansed in 1999. This hell is of their own making, you put your faith in criminals, gangsters and you should not be surprised at the outcome.

It's a very amusing joke to

It's a very amusing joke to blame others and not Milosevic's Serbia for the instability and crimes in the Balkans. Others did wrong, but in reaction, the provocative actions of the Serbs are only compared to those of Hitler's. Thank God Serbia did not have all what it takes to make a new racist world war.

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