News 03 Mar 16

Kosovo Activists Overturn Serbian Truck in Schoolbook Protest

Opposition Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Movement) party activists overturned the truck in protest at Belgrade’s refusal to distribute Kosovo schoolbooks that Pristina donated to ethnic Albanian pupils in Serbia.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina
The truck overturned by opposition activists. Photo: Vetevendosje.

The Vetevendosje activists seized the truck on Thursday after it entered Kosovo from Serbia at the Merdare crossing point and overturned it, causing some of its cargo to spill out.

Vetevendosje said it was as a response to Belgrade’s decision not to allow Kosovo school books to be distributed to ethnic Albanian children in the southern Presevo Valley area. Serbian officials argue that the books are politically biased because they described Kosovo as an independent state.

“This action is a response to the criminal act by Republic of Serbia, which yesterday returned more than 103,000 books in Albanian, leaving Albanian pupils in Presevo, Medvegje and Bujanoc without any,” Vetevendosje said in a statement.

The opposition party also said that its activists will continue protests actions until Serbia accepts the Kosovo schoolbooks.

“They don’t accept our books, we will not accept their [Serbia’s] products,” the party said .

The attack on the truck was confirmed by Kosovo police spokesperson Baki Kelani.

“Yes, it happened in Lupc village, on the Pristina-Podujevo road,” Kelani told BIRN.

The Serbian authorities sent the books back on Tuesday after they were held for over six months at a customs terminal in Presevo.

Azem Guri, a political adviser to Kosovo’s education minister, said that the truckloads of books were now on the Kosovo side of the border and that Pristina will continue to ask Belgrade to allow them to be distributed to schools in the Presevo Valley.

Guri added that education minister Arsim Bajrami will ask the Serbian government to respect an agreement reached last September, when Kosovo and Serbia agreed to exchange school books for minorities in each other’s countries.

“Minister Bajrami will continue to ask Belgrade to respect the agreement. They have undertaken an obligation and they have to fulfil it,” Guri told BIRN.

Vetevendosje staged similar protest actions in 2012 where several trucks from Serbia were overturned in an attempt to stop Serbian goods coming into Kosovo.

The party has also been involved in the recent protests in the Kosovo parliament which have seen tear gas released several times in the legislature.

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