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Vucic on security of Serbs in Kosovo, 17 March 2004 pogrom anniversary (Serbian Government, Tanjug, B92)

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that if NATO is not able to protect the Serb people in the southern province, the Republic of Serbia will do so. Vucic was speaking on the occasion of the 15th  anniversary of the March 2004 pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian Government website said.

Vucic said in his address to the public that today it is 15 years since a great and terrible pogrom of Albanian extremists against the Serb people living in Kosovo an Metohija took place, which was carried out with the support of a part of the international community.

This resulted in the demolition and burning of 35 churches and monasteries, 935 Serbian buildings, of which 738 houses, ten public buildings, schools, post offices and health centers. A total of 4,012 Serbs were expelled out of six towns and nine villages. 28 people were killed and 994 injured. Among them, 143 Serbs and dozens of members of international forces. Two villages were wiped out – Slatina and Svinjare, he said.

He pointed out that at that time there were 38,000 KFOR troops and 8,000 UNMIK policemen deployed in the southern Serbian province.

Vucic expressed fear due to the fact that the Community of Serb Municipalities was not formed, the deals made under the Brussels agreement have not been fulfilled, and that Pristina imposed tariffs on Serbian goods and adopted a platform that is not in favor, but against dialogue.

As for Serbia, it will protect its people in Kosovo and Metohija if those whose task is to do so do not do it. It seems to me that NATO did not understand its role well and that it must understand that their work is in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 to protect our people in every place in Kosovo and Metohija, he underlined.

The Serbian president stressed that he sends a clear message from Belgrade that Serbia is ready to talk with Pristina and to cooperate, but that he is afraid that Pristina has shown through its platform and tariffs, and with everything else, that it does not want the same.

“We believe that reaching a compromise solution is the best. If someone does not want it, they should clearly and unequivocally say so. Serbia will always be ready for talks and dialogue, but it is firm enough and determined to protect its people and its vital interests,” Vucic stated.

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said that 15 years since the pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo “there is still silence, muteness and hush prevailing.”

Djuric added “that 15 years ago, without reason, guided by insane hatred, dozens of thousands of Albanians lead by their political leaders burned down everything Serbian in Kosovo and Metohija (…),” noting that even today the main political protagonists of the violence have not been held accountable.

Serbian National Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Chairman Milovan Drecun and the-then head of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo, Nebojsa Covic said the March pogrom against the Serb population in Kosovo had one goal only to ethnically cleanse Kosovo and terrify the Serbs.

“The idea was to completely ethnically cleanse Kosovo and terrify the Serbs. This is something they want also today, to have an ethnically clean area,” Covic told TV Pink. He also recalled that nobody was held accountable for the organization of the pogrom.

“That was brutal attack, we encountered ROSU unit, there was no exchange of fire. It is my impression that KFOR did not react preventively, and I am convinced they had information about that.



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