Friday, September 02, 2005

Kosovo: Murders Reignite Serb Fears

Brutal killing of two young men stirs fresh complaints about alleged inactivity of international police.

By Nikola Krstic in Strpce and Jeta Xharra in Pristina (BCR no 573, 02-Sep-05)

Kosovo Serbs are demanding better security from international troops after the murder of two young Serbs at the weekend in an isolated enclave in the territory.

Some local representatives have said that if they do not receive firm guarantees about their security, they will go ahead with plans to draw up their own self-defence guards.

Ivan Dejanovic, 24, and Aleksandar Stankovic, 28, were shot dead on August 29 on the road from Strpce to Urosevac/Ferizaj, 80 kilometres southeast of Pristina.

The men were killed when their assailants’ vehicle overtook their car on the road into the enclave and opened fire.

The victims were easily identifiable as Serbs as their car had old Yugoslav number plates. Two other Serbs were wounded in the shooting.

Outraged Serbs organised protests in Strpce and in the Serb enclaves of north Mitrovica and Gracanica, where some speakers blamed international peacekeepers for the bloodshed.

International troops “are not putting enough efforts into providing security for Serbs in Kosovo”, said Stanko Jakovljevic, mayor of Strpce. “We will no longer tolerate such irresponsible behaviour.”

KFOR and the UN police, known as UNMIK Police, have been responsible for security in Kosovo since 1999, when the Serb authorities were forced to withdraw after NATO’s bombing campaign.

They now work in tandem with a locally established police force, the Kosovo Police Services, KPS.

The 90 per cent of the territory’s population who are Albanian want independence. In the meantime, however, Kosovo remains legally part of Serbia.

Kai Eide, the UN envoy on Kosovo, is due to present a report next month on whether Kosovo Albanians have done enough to guarantee the rights of the Serb minority.

The report is bound to have an impact on the outcome of the final status talks on Kosovo’s future that are due to begin this year.

Ljubomir Milekovic, 42, a shopkeeper in Strpce, said the latest murders had shaken morale in the isolated community.

“The atmosphere is tense and we are all worried for the security of our families,” he said.

“If KFOR and local police cannot guarantee our security we will have to organise self-defence guards to protect ourselves.”

Similar views were aired at the crisis meeting attended by the representatives of all the Serb villages in Strpce municipality earlier this week.

Many representatives argued that they should seriously consider organising their own local police if KFOR, UNMIK Police and the KPS did not do a better job.

Neeraj Singh, the UNMIK spokesperson, said he believed such additional guards were not needed, as his police were working already towards meeting Serb demands.

“Local people in Strpce have asked for more officers and we will get them more to patrol the area,” he said.

Singh said there had already been a big improvement in the level of services offered.

Recent successful initiatives included crime prevention councils in all municipalities and community-based police stations in 25 minority villages all over Kosovo, he said.

The aim was “to ensure that local people are fully engaged in decisions about the security of their area”, added Singh.

But many Serbs remain convinced that the UNMIK Police have done little to find the perpetrators of a series of ethnically motivated crimes against Serbs, which they say are intended to drive Kosovo’s remaining Serbs from their homes.

Milan Ivanovic, leader of Serb National Council, SNC, based in north Mitrovica, says most Serbs lost faith in the UNMIK Police after they failed to resolve previous Serb murder cases.

“When Serb youths were killed in Gorazdevac they told us they would move heaven and earth to find the murderers,” he said. “But more than two years on, no one has been caught.”

Ivanovic was referring to the brutal slaying of two Serb youths, shot dead on August 13, 2003 while swimming with friends in a river in Gorazdevac, a village near Peja/Pec.

Another high-profile murder of three Serb members of the Stolic family in Obiliq on June 4 that year has also not been resolved.

Singh admits these failings but says a more balanced account should include some police successes.

“We have not resolved the Gorazdevac and Obilic murders but we have resolved the Gracanica killing of a Serb youth and we have someone on trial for the Nis bus bombing,” he said.

Singh was referring firstly to the shooting dead of a Serb teenager in Gracanica, near Pristina, last June. Two Albanians have since been charged over that crime.

Florim Ejupi, an Albanian, has been charged over the bomb attack on a bus that killed seven Serbs and injured 43.

Singh maintained that the ethnically motivated crime rate was falling in Kosovo, as no new crimes had been reported since last June.

“This is indeed a tragic incident but it is nevertheless an isolated incident which doesn’t establish a trend,” he said, in reference to the events in Strpce. “We have seen a clear decrease, rather than an increase, in ethnically motivated crime in Kosovo.”

The debate about trends in the crime rate makes little difference to most local Serbs in the enclave.

Milos Radovic, 57, who works in the ambulance service in Strpce and who used to live in the nearby town of Urosevac/Ferizaj before the conflict, said he was one of many just waiting to leave.

“Life is hard here and this murder only reinforces my reasons for not wanting to stay in Kosovo,” he said.

“I am waiting for my pension and I will then leave for Serbia.”

Sasa Milosavljevic, 31, a bank worker in Strpce, disagreed. “I don’t feel safe after what has happened but I will stay because my life is here,” he said. “Everything that I have and love is here.”

Nikola Krstic is editor of the local Strpce TV HERC. Jeta Xharra is Kosovo director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, a localised IWPR project.


Anonymous said...

North Carolina Man Murdered
Sep 1, 2005

Police found 26-year-old Rodrigo Guerra of Wilmington lying face down in a street.

Ok, North Carolina murder has ignited the Hispanic fears!


Kentucky Mom Charged, Murdered Baby Abused
Sept 1, 2005, 10:05 AM

Lexington police have filed a second-degree abuse charge, against a woman whose six-month-old daughter died last month.

Ok, Kentucky murder has ignited the infants' fears!


Former Russian youth sports president murdered in Moscow
Aug. 30, 2005
CBS wire reports

MOSCOW -- A former Russian sports official allegedly linked to the fixing of figure skating results at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City has been shot and killed, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Tuesday, citing police officials.

Ok, Moscow murder has ignited the Russians' fears!

The list can go on... People die, that is the reality of this planet.

There is no reason to blow this out of proportion. I feel sorry for the families not only for losing their members, but for allowing their deaths to be used for political gains of Serbs in Kosova (a place with one of the lowest crime rates in the region).

Anonymous said...

Ok, lets get the facts straight. Kosovo has the lowest crime rate of crimes reported. rapes, kidnapping and human trafficing seems not to be worth mentioning, plus the denial most KALBS have about anything criminal activity going on in Kosovo...... Read the UNMIK Blotter for a country this small there is alot of crime. (oh must be a Serb Secret Police behind it or either just a mistake like most K/Albs claim criminal acts are. If this turns out to be ALB on Serb, this is a hate crime. According to the last blogger sounds like no big deal... Real acceptabe attitude.


P.S. The worst natural disaster in U.S. history has just happen and the government of Kosovo has not even made a statement. The "give me everything" attitude is pretty much showing.

Anonymous said...

Look who's bitching!

Dude, crime rates are calculated per capita... Hello, STAT 101.

Anonymous said...


In the Balkans, where the U.S. military has been deployed to keep the peace following a decade of conflict, there were offers steeped in gratitude. A Bosnian television station offered to raise money. In Kosovo, a civil emergency unit made up of former ethnic Albanian rebels offered to send a team to help rebuild.


Anonymous said...

To the "American", i.e. second poster:

It never ceases to amaze me why people open their mouths and eat so much shit when they know nothing about the subject they are talking about.

The United States have an office in Prishtina and an ambassador who has received many, many messages of support. And you know what, the Kosovars have reacted much faster than your president has. So, the best thing you can do is shut your mouth and keep quite when you don't know what you are talking about.

Do you have the balls to look at the messages of support that Kosova has shown towards the United States? If you think you do, below are the web links from the website of the American Office in Prishtina:

Finally, allow me to ask you: how many race crimes are committed in the United States every year? Have many of these cases are not solved? Now, does that mean that the American government is racist? Does that mean that the American people are racist?

I was watching the BBC World Service tonight, and they were raising a very interesting question: would the reaction of the emergency services in New Orleans have been as slow if we were dealing with a predominantly white middle class suburb?

Prince of Albania said...

That's exactly right!
I live in the US and I have met some of the most racist people here. Even as a caucasian I have faced racist behaviour on numerous occasions from White Americans because I'm a "fuckin' foreighner". But does that mean that all americans are racist. Absolutely not! The overwhelming majority are open minded people with a great heart.
So goes with the Albanians. Even though there might be the occasional extremist here and there the overwhelming majority are good people. And the bottom line is that our governments have never advocated a policy of discrimination and hatred. Time and time again we have asked the Serbs to come back and integrate but they do not wish to do so.
And as far as freedom of movement is concerned, the issue goes both ways. The last time I visited Kosovo I was not able to drive through Gracanica, go to Brezovica or go to Northern Mitrovica because of Serb extremists. If they want freedom of movement it has to be a 2 way highway.
I have nothing against Serbs. I even have Serb friends here that I hang out with. And they have nothing against us, the Albanians. If we can do this, the Kosovar Albanians and Serbs can too. The Serbs just have to realize that Kosovo is majority Albanian. They will have to speak the language. They will also have to use the legitimate licence plates of the State, and everything else involved.
That is the only way to integrate otherwise they will remain in self imposed isolation and segregation forever.
Peace, Ylber.

Anonymous said...

...fact is, the albanians have to cater to the Serbs now or no independence...that's the reality...and it is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

All Albanians will lose is a couple of years until the independence because they have nowhere to go and they have a relatively better life. On the other hand, Serbs can't and won't continue to live in ghettos forever when Serbia is right there waiting for them with all the opportunities. Their isolation is suicide for Serbs but maybe they know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

albanians have their own is that cesspool called albania.

Anonymous said...

The serbs will not leave kosovo. the albanians will kill all of the serbs first.

Anonymous said...

Long live Albanian Nation.

Thank you for your patience

Anonymous said...

The war against the Serbs has been the greatest Islamic gain in the civilized world in several hundred years. They are very proud of this achievement and it will be quite the battle to push them out of there.

The insurgents in Iraq would leave in a minute if we tried it...they would head to Europe to defend their gains and worry about Iraq later.

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