Monday, September 11, 2006

New Serb party in Kosovo pledges readiness to cooperate with Albanian majority

Text of report by Blerim Xhemajli entitled "'Realpolitik' in Serbian without Serbia" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 4 September

Llapleselle [Laplje Selo], Prishtina [Pristina], 3 September: With moderate vocabulary and without pomposity, Slobodan Petrovic, founder of the Independent Liberal Party [Serbian: Nezavisna Liberalna Stranka] received the necessary support to lead the party, which was established a month ago with its headquarters in Mitrovice [Kosovska Mitrovica]. At the first working convention held in Llapleselle (central Kosova [Kosovo]) Petrovic received 103 of the 105 attending delegates' votes. It turned out that his party programme was generally acceptable.

Speaking all the time about the future, without making excuses for the past, Petrovic did not make a single reference in his speech and programme to Belgrade or Serbia, nor did he curse the Albanian majority.

"We have not yet destroyed the bridge that links us with the catastrophic past. It still hurts us. If we could have stopped the evil, if we could have prevented the bad people from doing bad things, we would never have reached the unfavourable position that we are in now as Serbs in Kosova," he said during his speech. He also explained to our newspaper why he did not mention Belgrade.

"We do not need to mention Belgrade, because it is known that the Kosova Serbs have a natural connection with Serbia. It is important to say and for it to be known that we live in Kosova, and we want to hear the voice of the people living in Kosova," he said after the convention.

"We have our own policy; we are registered in Kosova, and if we want to implement this [policy], we must take into consideration the people who live here, and this in no way suggests that we are against Prishtina or Belgrade."

Petrovic admits that the Independent Liberal Party is perhaps the only party that equally supports the negotiating teams of Kosova and Belgrade.

"We hope that a comprise solution, for the good of the people living in Kosova and not only for the international community, will be found," he said.

According to him, the Independent Liberal Party has three basic principles in its programme. "Survival of the Serbs in Kosova, no matter what Kosova's status turns out to be; improvement of the living conditions for all in Kosova, which would be a condition for the real return of the people who are outside the territory of Kosova against their own will; and we stand for a multiethnic Kosova: we do not assess people on a national basis but on the basis of what they can do," he said.

"Kosova is a multiethnic place and we are aware that a solution for the Serb community in Kosova cannot be found without the Albanian majority," the Independent Liberal Party leader said, pledging willingness for cooperation with the Albanian political parties "to promote the well-being of all the people living in Kosova".

Despite his insistence on avoiding the topic of day-to-day politics, which now focuses exclusively on the status issue, Petrovic admitted to our newspaper that it is not true that his party is committed to Kosova's independence, though opposing it is unrealistic.

"I have to say that we do not support Kosova's independence, wishing for something different. We want something else, and we definitely expect something else. So, we are a new party, and it is the content, and not the form, that interests us. We are interested in seeing what that independent Kosova will contain. This is much more important than whether Kosova is independent or not," said Petrovic.

"We are the only Serb party that is ready to become involved in elections and institutions, and we want, together with the Albanian majority, to find solutions that will be beneficial for the people in Kosova. There are no problems with this." According to Petrovic, this is the party orientation, whose programme was unanimously approved by the delegates attending the convention.

The Independent Liberal Party convention elected three deputy chairmen, one of which is Ajdar Iljazi, representing the Goran community. A party presidency, a steering council, and a court of honour were also elected. Two representatives of the Goran community are also members of these bodies.

According to Petrovic, this proves that the Independent Liberal Party "is not only a party for the Serbs, but for a multiethnic Kosova".

Attending the convention were mainly young delegates. Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Serb List for Kosova, who is also chairman of the Kosova branch of the Social Democratic Party of Serbia, addressed the convention. Ivanovic, too, admitted that the time of big words has gone.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 4 Sep 06

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