Thaci’s homage in the Serb cemetery sparks reactions in Pristina and Belgrade

Thaci’s homage in the Serb cemetery sparks reactions in Pristina and Belgrade

Pristina, 22 July 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

The efforts of the Kosovo leadership to achieve reconciliation and normalize relations with the neighboring country, Serbia, are not coming to a halt.

Besides the readiness to solve problems and disagreements through talks that are being held in Brussels, president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci did an imaginable gesture for the Balkan mentality a few days ago.

He took the courage to place wreaths on the memorial of 14 citizens of the Serb community, killed in July of 1999.

As he placed wreaths in a village of Lipjan, where he wasn’t received by any of its residents and dominated by members of the Serb community, President Thaci considered the killing of 14 Serb residents as “a criminal act not only against the victims who were working the land, but also an act against freedom of Kosovo and its democratic future”.

“Today I pray and express my regret for all the victims during and after the war, belonging to all communities”, said president Thaci.

The killing of 14 men in July 1999, a few weeks after the entry of NATO forces and the departure of Serb security forces, has sparked strong reactions and at the same time, accusations against the Albanian majority.

The act of the killing, the authors of which were not discovered for more than 17 years, aggravated the relations between the communities even more.

17 years later, the act of honoring of a memorial which states that it belongs to “Albanian victims of terror”, has sparked numerous reactions in Pristina and Belgrade.

Kosovo analyst, Faik Krasniqi says that the readiness to condemn crimes against civilians is welcome, but the same thing must also be reflected by the Serb side.

“Hashim Thaci’s visit in the memorial of 14 Serb citizens would be reasonable if such thing was also done by senior Serb officials in the cemetery of thousands of Albanian civilians killed during the war in Kosovo by the Serb state. But they have neither apologized for the thousands of Albanians who have been killed, for thousands of women who were raped and almost two thousand people who are still missing”, he says.

One of the experts of political developments in Kosovo, Rangjell Nojkic, says that although Thaci’s act comes as a surprise, it is “a gesture of good will”.

“I think that this way, he has paid respects for the victims. I hope that besides this, other incentives will be taken, such as the discovery of criminals, of those who have perpetrated this act”, Nojkic says.

According to him, through this act, the President of Kosovo has conveyed a political message for the reconciliation of the Balkan people.

This event has also been covered by the Serb media which have considered the gesture of the president of Kosovo as unimaginable and absurd.

“Novine” portal says that Serbs have been killed by Albanians, who received orders by Thaci, who was a commander during the war.

The portal also says that Thaci went to the village in question alone and without other politicians, but surrounded by journalists. According to the portal in question, Serbs in the village have been completely powerless to stop Thaci from paying homage.

Serb media say that the campaign for “the normalization of relations” is artificial. /