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news 31 Jan 17

Kosovo Hesitates to Demolish Serb Wall In North

Kosovo's government has yet to clarify its likely course towards the wall erected by the Serb authorities in the divided northern town of Mitrovica, despite a parliamentary resolution ordering its removal by the end of the month.

Die Morina
The building of Kosovo Government | Photo: Kallxo.com/ BIRN Kosovo

Kosovo government officials have yet to explain what they plan to do with the two-metre-high wall that Kosovo Serbs have erected on the northern side of the Ibar river in the divided northern town of Mitrovica.

A resolution issued by the Kosovo parliament on December 23 ordered “the demolition of the illegal wall in the northern part of Mitrovica to happen within January 2017”.

Bajram Gecaj, Deputy Minister of Local Government, told BIRN on Monday that the authorities would act according to law, but did not clarify what that meant in concrete terms.

“Whatever happens with the wall in Northern Mitrovica will be according the laws of Republic of Kosovo,” Gecaj told BIRN.

Asked whether the authorities would act according to the resolution, Gecaj answered: “The resolution is not a law”.

The President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, on Wednesday reiterated that the wall must be removed somewhow, or the state authorities would have to act on the parliamentary resolution to remove it by the end of January.

Thaci said that “the best solution” would be if the wall was removed by those who built it, but added that parliament’s resolution must be respected either way.

This is not the first resolution issued by parliament that remains unimplemented.

Last year, parliament issued a resolution requiring the immediate release of the Kosovo Police director in Mitrovica area, Nehat Thaci, who was detained in Serbia. The resolution was issued on October 12. Thaci was finally released on November 1.

Another resolution issued by parliament on October 2016, defining the Kosovo Liberation Army’s wartime struggle as just and fair - after an appeals court upheld a verdict convicting ten former KLA fighters of war crimes including murder and torture - has also been ignored abroad.

The resolution called the war “the armed war of the people of Kosovo, which is protected and cherished by all citizens and institutions of the Republic of Kosovo”.

Despite this, former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj was arrested on January 4 in France based on a warrant issued by Serbia that alleges that he committed war crimes during the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo.

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