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Ivanovic blames EULEX for fabricating case against him (Dailies)

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Oliver Ivanovic, who was arrested in late January of last year, says that he was “not framed either by Albanians or Serbs” – but by “politicos from EULEX.”

The leader of the Civil Initiative (GI) SDP is currently on trial in Kosovska Mitrovica on war crimes charges.

“Behind the indictment against me stands a representative of EULEX (EU’s mission in Kosovo) in the prosecutor’s office, which has devised a plan and an initiative with the aim of drawing attention from their involvement in a still current affair. However, he made the wrong assessment, believing they will break me and that the public in Mitrovica and in northern Kosovo will not be too interested in this case, but also that the Serbian government will not be too agile, considering I’m not a member of any party,” Ivanovic told the Serbian edition of Newsweek.

He added that “the head of EULEX expected neither the international representatives in Pristina, but also in European cities to be overly interested in this case, but he was wrong.”

“I am informed that he asked for ‘additional evidence’ from an intelligence service, but even that was not enough. He did not even study the records from 1999-2000, when the international judge and the prosecutor at the time discussed an initiative with similar contents, but it turned out it was an ordinary political intrigue. They moved forward with the same initiative 15 years later, although there has been no new evidence. There is only one conclusion: the intention was to eliminate me politically, but I do not understand the benefit of it. There is no doubt that some others have benefited from the misfortune that happened to me, but again, this was not even planned by Albanians, or Serbs, only by EULEX’s unsuccessful politicos,” emphasized Ivanovic, and added:

“I have reexamined my every move hundreds of times and decided that I was not wrong, specifically that I did not do anything I should be ashamed of, nothing illegal or immoral. Once I determined that, then I was able move on to prepare my defense since it is obvious that they have in mind my long stay in custody. The most important thing to me is to remain stable in the psychical and psychological sense and not let them break me, because that was the goal.”

He criticized the prosecutor’s office for taking a full eight months to determine what he was suspected of – “although they said they had irrefutable evidence to support their claims.”

“After 31 witnesses were heard, we had the result that none of them confirmed my involvement in the crimes that I have been charged with. Some saw me in a crowd of people, which is not in dispute, because all the time I lived in Mitrovica and never left. I believe that the same will happen when the prosecution’s remaining witnesses take the stand. The witnesses so far, for the most part, knew me well, so much so that they knew my biographical data, which means that they had been ‘prepped’ – but they could have also learned about me on the internet,” Ivanovic told the magazine.

He recalled that he was one of a few who spoke in favor of dialogue with Albanians “as early as in 1999, and even earlier,” because he considered it “extremely important for peace and stability, as well as for the survival of Serbs, but also the stability of the Balkans.”

“I do not underestimate the significance of good relations with Croats, Bosniaks or Hungarians, but it is now far more important to make cautious but open steps in establishing quality relations with Albanians. We have, in general, a lot of prejudices about Albanians, which is partly their fault, but the main reason is us ignoring their existence, their culture, habits, fears and aspirations. I was happy about the testimony of several Albanian prosecution witnesses, who confirmed the truth. That means it was worth it, after all,” said he.

Commenting on the fact the court decided not to free him until the end of the trial, Ivanovic said the EU mission in Kosovo “demonstrates many weaknesses that are very present in the Balkans,” and that he did not expect that “a mission made up of people from developed European countries” would demonstrate such shortcomings and incompetence in local conditions.

“You cannot save face by fabricating two or three cases against Serbs in northern Kosovo for the critically minded public in Pristina. It is the worst kind of politicking, which Albanians have easily seen through. In order not to create the wrong impression, I must say that those of us who live in Kosovo, especially Serbs, need EULEX for another 10 or 20 years because the weak local institutions, especially the judiciary and the police, in an atmosphere of ethnic divisions and distrust that will last, cannot deal by themselves with organized crime, corruption and terrorism – but it cannot be this kind of EULEX,” said Ivanovic.

He added that “a sharp u-turn or a clear cut” was needed, compared to current practice. “New people with high human and professional qualities and constant supervision are sorely needed,” said Ivanovic, and added:

“We need a completely new team of people, but also a new head of mission, because the current one is obviously not coping well in that role.”

Ivanovic “hopes that the entire case against him will be completed by the end of the year and believes he will be acquitted of all charges,” the article noted.

Ivanovic also said it “meant a lot” that President Tomislav Nikolic, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic have all spoken about his case before the UN Security Council, “but also in many meetings with international representatives who came to Belgrade.”

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