news 09 Jan 13

Serbia Albanians Scorn Threat to War Memorial

Leaders of the Albanian community in southern Serbia say they doubt Serbia will act on threats to remove a memorial in Presevo to local guerrilla fighters.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Skender Destani, leader of an ethnic Albanian party in southern Serbia, says he doubts the authorities will act on threats to forcibly remove a memorial to ethnic Albanian fighters in the town of Presevo.

"The removal of the monument is not in the spirit of European values so [Serbian Prime Minister Ivica] Dacic will not risk the country's EU path by removing it," Destani, leader of the Democratic Union of the Valley, DUD, told Balkan Insight.

Dacic has reiterated several times that if local authorities in south Serbia don't remove the memorial, the state will do so by January 17.

The monument, dedicated to veterans of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, a guerrilla force that took on the Serbian military, was erected in November in front of the town hall in Presevo, home to 50,000 or so ethnic Albanians.

Leaders of ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia have scheduled to hold a joint session on Saturday to dicuss the controversial monument.

The Albanian guerrilla force launched a brief armed struggle with Serbian security forces in 2000, which ended with the help of international mediation.

They agreed to disarm in 2001 following an internationally brokered peace deal, after which the Serbian military re-entered the demilitarized area near the border with Kosovo with the approval of NATO.

Jonuz Musliu, former political leader of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, also believes that Dacic is "smart enough not to demolish the monument.

"It would not look European, as Europe does not destroy monuments," Musliu said.

Serbia obtained EU candidate status in March 2012 and hopes to get a date to start the accession talks this year.


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