News 19 Jan 15

Kosovo Serb Minister Apologises After Protest Clashes

Minister Aleksandar Jablanovic, accused of insulting Albanians who blockaded Serb pilgrims at Orthodox Christmas, said he didn’t want his words to cause unrest.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina
Aleksandar Jablanovic. Photo: Beta.

“I apologise publicly to the mothers who felt affected by my statement,” Minister for Returns and Communities Jablanovic said at a Kosovo government meeting on Monday.

He apologised following protests that turned violent last week after he described Albanian protesters who picketed and threw ice at Serb pilgrims visiting a church in Gjakova/Djakovica at Orthodox Christmas on January 6 as “savages”.

“I express regret to all those that lost their loved ones during the war in Kosovo and I ask that my statements should not be used as a pretext for protests,” Jablanovic said.

Gjakova/Djakovica was the scene of heavy fighting between Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war, when the majority of Kosovo Albanians were expelled and many civilians killed. After the conflict ended, all Serbs were then expelled from the area.

But despite the apology, students from the University of Pristina are organising a major protest rally on Tuesday to call on Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa to dismiss Jablanovic from the government. The Kosovo Liberation Army war veterans’ association has called on its members to join the rally.

Twenty-two people were arrested on Friday after clashes at a protest for Jablanovic’s resignation outside the Ministry of Returns and Communities in Pristina. Police said that eight officers and 31 protestors were injured.

There were also protests against Jablanovic in Peja/Pec and Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje on the same day.

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