Thursday, 11 April 2019

PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy - Exchange of Views on Situation in Kosovo-Metohija

The PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy had an exchange of views on the situation in Kosovo-Metohija today. Dr Aleksandra Tomic, Head of the delegation, and Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic, delegation member, spoke on behalf of the National Assembly delegation.

Hilmi Jashari, Ombudsperson, and Slavisa Mladenovic, Language Commissioner at the Office of the Prime Minister in Pristina, addressed the Committee on behalf of the Provisional Institutions in Kosovo-Metohija as keynote speakers.

Dr Aleksandra Tomic said that the numerous reports of international organizations, including the UN, and the needs of the people and regional stability, majority of the international community, including the EU and US, and the agreements between Belgrade and Pristina call for compromise, dialogue and respecting international law and human rights in Kosovo-Metohija. She said that Belgrade is open and fully committed to these objectives as it had amply proven many times. Pristina on the other hand keeps escalating the situation: jeopardizing the citizens’ survival by imposing the anti-civilizational 100% customs tariffs, establishing the “Armed Forces” (in violation of UNSC Resolution 1244, regional arrangements and the Brussels Agreement), jeopardizing the stability in the region, not establishing a Community of Serb Municipalities, adopting the so-called Platform which effectively blocks the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and not sanctioning and even inciting attacks on people, churches, property and cemeteries. Pristina’s constant fabrication of excuses for the failure to fulfil its obligations adds yet another dimension to this escalation. She stressed that if PACE ignores Pristina’s aggressive, destructive, extreme and uncooperative behaviour, it is difficult to see what it legitimizes or what is left of the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law built into the very foundations of the Council of Europe.

Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic said that Kosovo is characterized by lawlessness, violence against Serbs and non-Albanians, intimidation, theft of property, wide-spread crime and corruption and the likes. 90% of Serbian property in Metohija has been usurped. Serbs have no right or opportunity to visit their houses and properties. Due to general insecurity, threats and various obstacles in the last 20 years, of the 250,000 Serbs exiled in 1999, less than 2% had returned. The murder of Oliver Ivanovic, committed more than a year ago, remains unsolved, as does the violence perpetrated by Kosovo police against Marko Djuric, Director of the Office for Belgrade-Pristina negotiations.

He added that EULEX and the Provisional Institutions in Kosovo are doing almost nothing to solve these problems or change the situation. The institutions exist only on paper. The Kosovo authorities had imposed a 100% customs tariff on goods from Serbia several months ago but have not wanted to establish the Community of Serb Municipalities for six years now, an obligation they assumed under the Brussels Agreement. He added that this is also an obligation from the Council of Europe Resolution of 2016.

Prof. Dr Obradovic said that the State Department’s report on the human rights in Kosovo notes that the institutions in Kosovo do not function, that they lack democratic capacity. The report notes that more than a hundred incidents were reported in the first seven months of 2018 including, theft, damage to property of Kosovo Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as verbal assaults. The reports speaks of abuse and corruption in the Kosovo Government and security forces and lack of will to implement the measures needed to enable the return of displaced Serbs or to punish those who break the law.

The National Assembly’s standing delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is taking part in the PACE Spring Session in Strasbourg, 8 – 12 April. The delegation headed by Dr Aleksandra Tomic comprises Biljana Pantic Pilja, Elvira Kovacs, Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic, Dubravka Filipovski, Aleksandar Seselj and Branka Stamenkovic.

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