The president of the coordinating body of the Government of Serbia for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja Zoran Stankovic told Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti that the southern part of central Serbia is not threatened by any armed conflict.
Stankovic categorically claims that a war in this area will not happen, despite “constant announcements”.
He notes for the daily that in this way only tension is raised among the public, following the news on the ethnic Albanians from those three municipalities asking the Assembly in Pristina to pass a resolution supporting their request for joining Kosovo.
In an interview for the daily, Stankovic points out that the talk on the merger (with Kosovo) is exacerbated by “some who are referring to an illegal referendum from 1992” – but he also recalls that these also have lost elections in all three municipalities.
“The people showed them what they think, and this uncertainty, which is also being stressed in the media, is damaging, because it prevents the arrival of investors, who seek political and security stability,” says Stankovic.
He also notes that the term “Presevo valley”, which is emphasized in Hashim Thaci’s story on merger with Kosovo – and also by some representatives of the Albanians from the South- is in fact political. In geographical, administrative or any other sense, it does not exist.
“The municipalities of Bujanovac and Presevo belong to the Pcinje District while Medvedja belongs to the Jablanica District,” he explains, adding that Albanians first used the term “eastern Kosovo” for that part of Serbia, and then changed it to the “Presevo valley” after their armed rebellion in 2000 and 2001. He says that even some people holding state office use the term.
He warns that the terms used should be very well considered at the time of deciding on the territory and fate of Serbia.
Stankovic also stresses that in the Medvedja, Serbs are the dominant population, while in Presevo is the opposite, and that there is no precise data, since in 2011 Albanians refused to participate in the census.
“Along with experts from America, Britain and Macedonia we’ve have done an assessment of the population, but not the ethnic structure, because it is not the key for us. The point of our work is to enable all citizens in these municipalities to live better and to realize their rights.”
Asked if it is true that “Albanians and Serbs cannot live with each other, but that they must live side by side,” Stankovic states that there were no inter-ethnic incidents since he has headed the Coordination Body, while coalition of Serb and Albanian parties are in power in all three municipalities.
“My experience is that members of these two nations can cooperate and know how to agree very well when it comes to common interests. The problem is that there are a number of people who can only sustain themselves politically if they create an image that the situation is completely different and that there is intolerance,” says Stankovic.
On question whether is realistic to expect a discussion on the issue of the three municipalities during the talks in Brussels, between Belgrade and Pristina, he replies that this will not be the topic of the talks, but that Serbia will do everything to fulfill the rights and obligations which stems from the Constitution and the law in full.
Belgrade invests the most
Stankovic says for the daily that in addition to the visits of Albanian representatives from this part of Serbia to Albania and Kosovo, there are no investments from those sides. He says that only 40,000 euros were promised by Pristina and Tirana, but they did not arrive until the day. All investments are from the state of Serbia and partly from the international community.