News 11 Dec 12

Refugees Object to Montenegro's Pristina Embassy

The Alliance of Associations of Displaced Persons urged Montenegro's leaders not to appoint ambassador to Pristina until people who fled Kosovo in 1999 are allowed to return.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

The organisation issued a statement on Monday in a response to the last week's announcement by Kosovo’s president, Atifete Jahjaga, that the exchange of ambassadors between Kosovo and Montenegro was just a matter of time.

Speaking at the last week's meeting of the regional heads of states, which was held in Budva, Montenegro, Jahjaga  said that the recognition of Montenegrins as an official minority in Kosovo is imminent.

The official status of Montenegrins in Kosovo was the pre condition for the long-awaited exchange of ambassadors between Podgorica and Pristina.

In late May, four years after it recognised Kosovo's independence in 2008, Montenegro's government said it would open embassy in Pristina.

However, Filip Vujanovic, Montenegro’s head of state, refused to appoint the country’s ambassador to Pristina until Montenegrins obtain ethnic minority status in Kosovo.

In the past, Vujanovic also demanded, as a condition for establishing full diplomatic relations, that Kosovo's authorities facilitate the return of its former residents who took refuge in Montenegro during the Kosovo war.

“We want to believe that the president did not forget this other condition.  We also want to believe that the announcement that the exchange of ambassadors will occur if just the demand for Montenegrins to be listed in the so-called Kosovo Constitution is met is a bad interpretation of President Vujanovic’s actual demands,“ the alliance stated.

Zeljko Sofranac, director of Montenegro's Bureau For Care of Refugees told BIRN in April that around 500 refugees from Kosovo wanted to return to their pre war homes. 

“Voluntary return is the best way of solving refugees’ problems. However, all the cooperation we receive is from the local Kosovo authorities. Central government, probably with the support of some powerful higher echelons, doesn’t want to fulfil its international obligations,” Sofranac said.

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