Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Serbian president not welcome at Rugova funeral

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Kosovo on Tuesday rejected a request from the Serbian president to attend the funeral of president Ibrahim Rugova, icon of the Albanian majority's struggle for independence from Serbia.

"(President Boris) Tadic is not welcome at the funeral, especially after his last comments," a senior government official told Reuters.

Tadic made the request on Monday, saying it would only be proper for the Serbian president to go to Kosovo, "which is part of Serbia's territorial integrity, and pay his respects to the political representative of the Albanian people".

The statement touched a nerve in Kosovo, where thousands of Albanians queued for a second day in temperatures as low as minus 15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit) for a glimpse of Rugova's flag-draped coffin. The funeral will be held on Thursday.

Serbia has not had formal control over its southern province since 1999, when NATO bombs drove out Serb forces accused of atrocities against Albanian civilians in a two-year war with separatist guerrillas.

Under U.N. control ever since, the 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority is pushing for independence in direct negotiations that were due to begin this week. They were postponed until February after Rugova died of lung cancer on Saturday aged 61.

Newspaper Kosova Sot described Tadic's statement as a provocation. "Serbia's president has not chosen the right moment to express the ambitions of his state towards Kosovo."

Another newspaper, Zeri, quoted a government source as saying no official from Belgrade would be welcome at the funeral.

Tadic's attendance would pose a security headache for the NATO-led peace force. During his first and only visit last year Tadic's convoy was stoned and pelted with eggs in Albanian areas.

Serbia says independence for Kosovo, considered by many Serbs as the cradle of their nation, is out of the question.

But the Albanian majority rejects any return to Serb rule after years of discrimination and often violent repression.

A father-figure to many Kosovo Albanians, Rugova led a decade of passive resistance to Serb domination in the 1990s, creating an underground system of schools and healthcare.

His tactics were eclipsed by the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998-99, but he regained the political ascendancy after the war and was twice elected president.

His death left a political vacuum in Kosovo. Diplomats fear a messy power struggle within his fractious party could delay U.N.-led talks which are seen to be leading to independence.


Dardania 2006 said...

Tadic MUST not attend the funeral because:

Serbia has NOT appologized for all the attrocities, crimes, theft, murder, rape, ethnic cleansing, and attempted genocide.

Once Tadic does that, he can come as the head of State of the Serbian Republic visiting the Kosovar State.

vullnesa said...

He's not welcomed,he'd never be.
I think Albin Kurti was right when he threw at him eggs that tells that he'd never be welcomed unless Tadic and others ask for forgiveness for all the things they have done.

Chris Blaku said...

No need for forgiveness for a state visit, as long as it is recognized that he is leaving Serbian soil and entering Kosovar territory as a statesman visiting another state.

Tadic however, would rather play political games and provoke the Kosovars into confrontation at a vulnerable time.

Anonymous said...

You Albanians need to get something through your ignorant heads...

1. Tadic to apologise?? for what, it was Milosevic who mistreated you, and now he's gone, problem solved...

2. Tadic will travel where he pleases as he has before through Kosovo...

Also, you have to realise that this is a mistake as it was a perfect chance to reconcile, but you have now shown that you dont want this, proving your want for violence...

Its a shame that the Kosovo Albanians cant reform and progress like the Serbs...

Anonymous said...

First of all, there is no need to call anybody names like "ignorant" etc. This is the free world of blogs and every one is entitled to their opinions expressed respectfully - so please "anonymous" keep a good ethic when blogging.

Second, Kosovars have the right to refuse a Serbian official to attend Rugova's funeral, because his comments were provoking.

Third, dream on, because there won't be reconciliation at this point. Independence of Kosovo has been long due, and while I think a understanding, and peaceful negotiation can be reached and should be, you must be well aware of the strong patriotic feelings both sides have. Events like these will happen whether we like it or not.

Fourth, Tadic does not want Kosovo's independence which goes totally against what Rugova stood for.

Fifth, if you have never witnessed your family being killed, you should not judge the people who have, and who to this day cannot forgive a country who allowed their president to committ war crimes. After all, the whole purpose of the '89-'99 war was to ethnically cleanse the region of Kosovo from the Albanian majority. That is a shame, and something that has and will shape generations to come.

I am not justifying violence, hatred, etc. against Serbian people....far from it. I believe that the government in place used the strong patriotic feelings so prevalent in the Balkans to committ such attrocities. However, I emphasise that a return to Serbia is impossible, and it would mean another war.