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News 15 Mar 17

Serbia Accuses Kosovo of Grabbing its Property

The head of Serbia's Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, has denounced a decision to register the Kosovo state as the owner of the all immovable property once registered in the name of Yugoslavia or Serbia.

Maja Zivanovic, Perparim Isufi
BIRN
Belgrade, Pristina

Director of the Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric I Photo: Media Center Belgrade

Kosovo has sparked new tensions with Serbia after deciding to register all immovable property registered formerly as property of Yugoslavia, of Serbia, or of the old Autonomous Province of Kosovo, as property of the now independent Republic of Kosovo.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on March 1 said Kosovo's Cadastral Agency was obliged to register the property according to Kosovo’s procedures and within a deadline.

Marko Djuric, head of Serbia's Kosovo office, after meeting Kosovo Serb leaders on Wednesday, condemned the move as illegal.

He said he would ask the Serbian government “to repeal the unlawful, unconstitutional and illegal decision of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Pristina and the separatist leadership at the next session, as was done in the case of Trepca.” 

In October 2016, Serbia denounced and said it would ignore the Kosovo government’s decision to put the once-important Trepca mining complex in Kosovo under its own control, despite an ongoing dispute with Serbia over ownership and rights.

Djuric also called on the international community to react, adding that Kosovo did not consult Serbia or foreign governments about the move, and only “shyly published it [the decision] on the website of the Kosovo Government”.

Prime Minister Mustafa defended the decision to register the immovable assets as Kosovo state property as “very important”.

“I consider this decision as very important for us and for Kosovo,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying in a press release.

The decision covers the immovable property of the administrative, military and other former social-political organizations of Socialist Federal Yugoslavia, the Republic of Yugoslavia, the Socialist Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Serbia and the [Yugoslav-era] Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo.

Serbia's Minister for Labour, Employment and Veterans issues, Aleksandar Vulin, said on Wednesday that Pristina had realized that its negotiations in Brussels were going nowhere and was frightened of the growing power of the Serbian community in Kosovo and of Serbia's own position in Kosovo.

“Pristina's policy is measured by how much evil it causes to the Serbian people,” he said.

In Serbia, the opposition right-wing Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, blamed the Belgrade government for the move, accusing Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic of giving the Kosovo government important cadastral data.

An organisation called the Serbian Restitution Network called on the Serbian government to resist "the usurpers of [Serbian] state property."

Kosovo's ethnic Serb Deputy Prime Minister, Branimir Stojanovic, meanwhile said Serbian representatives in Kosovo had not been informed about the disputed decision - and only found about it in “an unofficial way”.

“It is not the first time that, what they do not want us to see, they just do not give us,” he complained on Wednesday.   

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