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News 14 Feb 18

Pro-Serbian Czechs to Protest Against Kosovo's Independence

A Czech NGO, 'Czech Friends of Kosovo Serbs', has announced a protest on the tenth anniversary of Kosovo's independence – when it will urge the Czech Republic to withdraw recognition of the former Serbian province.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

2013 protest in Prague. Photo: Facebook/Milutin Ilic

Pro-Serbian Czechs plan to stage a protest against their country's recognition of Kosovo's independence in Prague on February 16.

Organizers told BIRN that the protest will be held against “the defeat of the international law and the violent attempt to separate Kosovo from Serbia”.

“The text of the petition was compiled by the Social Democrat MP Foldina Jaroslav, myself and by [film] director Vaclav Dvorzak,” Foldina’s adviser on Balkan matters, Milutin Ilic, told BIRN.

The “Czech Friends of Kosovo Serbs” have organized annual protests against Kosovo's independence in Prague since 2008.

Ilic, who is also head of the Prague-based NGO Geopolitikon, said the NGO was headed by Vaclav Dvorjak, the author of the documentary film "Captured Kosovo" ["Oteto Kosovo"], while Jaroslav was the main organizer of the protests.

Kosovo proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008, having de facto broken away in 1999 as a result of NATO's air war on Serbia.

Most Western countries, including the US, recognised Kosovo as a state long ago, but five EU states – Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Romania and Cyprus – do not. Serbia also enjoys strong support from Russia and China over the Kosovo issue.

Formally, Kosovo has been free of international oversight since the International Civilian Office, the body responsible for overseeing independence, left in 2012. The EU's rule-of-law mission, EULEX, remains in place, though with reduced powers.

2013 protest in Prague. Photo: Facebook/Milutin Ilic

While the independence of Kosovo is strongly opposed by the Serbian government, it is denied still more vehemently by the nationalist right.

Ilic said that “today it is clear that there are no winners”, and underlined that “both Albanians and Serbs have lost and need to reciprocally enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities in both Belgrade and Pristina”.

He added: “Today's EU, which both Serbs and Albanians want to join, wants a stable Balkans. Serbs and Albanians need solutions that will last for centuries. I believe the talks should be returned under UN Resolution 1244, which does not prejudge the format of an agreement between the Serbs and Albanians.”

The UN Resolution was passed at the end of the 1998-1999 conflict between Serbian forces and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and regulates the mandate of the UN mission there.

Ilic claimed that while Serbia had made progress on EU accession, respect for minority rights, and the economy, “Kosovo is in chaos and crisis and ruled by criminals and clans”.  

According to him, without a return to Serbian administration, “Albanians in Kosovo risk isolation from Europe”.

He added that former Czech politician and Social Democrat diplomat, Jan Kavan, supported the petition, as did some other politicians.

Collecting signatures will, he said, start on the day of the protest on February 16, and will be submitted to the Czech parliament.

The petition will also be sent to Czech President Milos Zeman, and to the former President, Vaclav Klaus.


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