news 15 May 12

Kosovo: Families of Missing Persons Protest

Relatives of people who went missing during the Kosovo war protested on Tuesday asking Kosovo lawmakers to keep the issue of the missing as a precondition for talks with Serbia. 

Fatmir Aliu

Protesters gathered in front of the Parliament after the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, announced that it would table a proposal to revoke a previously accepted motion which recommends the Kosovo government to set conditions for its participation in the dialogue with Belgrade.

The motion calls that, as a precondition to any further negotiations, Serbia has to reveal what happened to 1,400 people who went missing during the 1999 war, who are presumed to have been killed by Serb security forces.

In case Belgrade does not provide that information, the Kosovo delegation would be prevented from taking part in the next round of talks.

The motion was passed with a majority vote, including  votes from the PDK members of parliament.

However, the PDK lawmakers said that their vote "was a mistake." As a result, the chairman of PDK's Parliamentary Group, Adem Grabovci, announced over the weekend that he would table a second motion to correct that mistake.

The PDK's plan to revoke the motion was condemned by the opposition parties, who threatened to boycott the parliamentary session.

However, during the plenary session on Tuesday, the PDK announced it would drop the issue until a larger political consensus is reached.

A member of the opposition went out of the session and announced the news to the families of missing people protesting outside the Parliament. After standing for almost two hours outside in the rain, some protesters cried from joy.

“The PDK's retreat [on this issue] is your achievement.  It is down to all of you standing here and protesting in this weather,” Glauk Konjufca from the opposition Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) Movement told the protesters.

Nysrete Kumnova, from the “Mother’s Call”, a missing persons NGO, told reporters that she hopes the authorities will implement the recommendations and condition the dialogue with Serbia, an action which she says has been “late and missing for 13 years.”

“We, the families of missing persons, for the past 13 years have been asking  Serbia to tell us about the fate of our loved ones. Now that we hear that the Parliament did not revoke the earlier motion, we fell more comfortable,” Kumnova told BIRN.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, a secession which Serbia does not recognise. Under EU brokered talks, both parties agreed on a range of issues relating to freedom of movement, and the regional representation of Kosovo.

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