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28. July 2020.

Belgrade - The security and political situation in the southern part of central Serbia is stable, there are no interethnic or any other tensions, and there is no possibility that some irresponsible and provocative statements and behavior of the people could cause any tensions in this area. That is how the President of the Coordination Body for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, Prof. Zoran Stankovic, PhD, in an interview granted to the "Politika" daily, assessed the current situation in that part of the country, after the Albanian parties had announced that they alone would form a government in Bujanovac.

During a tour of the tank battalion in Sremska Mitrovica the day before yesterday, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, told the Albanians not to underestimate Serbia and the Serbian services, who think that by raising tensions in the southern part of central Serbia they would be able to achieve their goals in Kosovo, and that no  peaceful or armed provocations would work. He underscored that Serbia would respect the rights of the Albanians in our country.

At the statement that despite that, it seemed that tensions suited someone, Mr. Stankovic pointed out that "the authorities of the Republic of Serbia are functioning in full, they have provided, provide and will provide economic, legal, property, personal and any other security and safety for all people living in in this area, even to the Albanians, in accordance with the Constitution, laws and the accepted international conventions, regardless of their national, religious and political affiliation”.

“I do not recommend underestimating anyone, even the Republic of Serbia, because that is the quality of those who are led through life by emotions and not by reason ",the President of the Coordination Body said.  

How should we respond to the decision of the Albanian parties that, upon returning from the consultations in Tirana, they violated the agreement and after 18 years formed the government in Bujanovac on their own?

There is no need for providing any special answer. We should continue, as before, to undertake the activities that will enable all people from this area to live from the results of their work, and to achieve economic, professional, personal and any other prosperity in accordance with the policy, laws, goals and interests of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens. The largest problems in these three municipalities are unemployment and the poor economic situation. We must do everything to employ as many people as possible and invest in the development of the economy, and thus prevent the emigration of people. In the end, it is the primary demand of all people, the Serbs, Albanians and Roma, as well as of all the others living in these municipalities.

The Albanian politicians from Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja are demanding integration into Serbian institutions and participation in the government at the republican level. Do you expect that, in accordance with this, they will still offer participation in the local government to those representatives of the Serbian parties in Bujanovac and that the political dialogue will thus continue?

The Albanians are represented in the parliament of the Republic of Serbia by three deputies, which is the largest number so far. The police in Presevo is made up of more than half of the Albanians, school classes  attended by Albanian students are held in their mother tongue, they are employed in healthcare and other state institutions, as well as  in the judiciary, the prosecutor's office, the Coordination Body, etc.  Top of Form

We support the efforts for including the Albanian minority in all other segments of importance for community development. The Coordination Body has never, not even now, interfered with the election or post-election process. That is not our mandate and our role. Representatives of the Serbian parties will decide on the possible expansion of the coalition. The current political dialogue should continue without any conditions from any side, for the benefit and well-being of all our citizens.

We also heard provocations from Pristina that Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja should be joined to the so-called Kosovo. The Albanian leaders from the southern part of central Serbia have repeatedly said that they want their issue to be part of the Belgrade-Pristina talks and the final agreement on the normalization of relations, as well as that this part of Serbia should be included in the "exchange of territories"?

Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja were, are and shall remain integral parts of the Republic of Serbia. It is generally known and accepted, even by the highest-ranking Albanian statesmen, that the issue of the Albanians from these areas is resolved in state bodies and institutions of the Republic of Serbia. The exchange of territories is proposed and sought by those who do not know how many people have given their lives to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, and achieve their plans and desires on their centuries-old hearths.

We have not yet heard reactions from the international factors, which are actively involved in assisting with the development of this part of Serbia and which support the integration of Albanians, to the decision of local Albanian parties in Bujanovac to form a mono-ethnic political majority in this multi-ethnic environment?

Representatives of the international community know who, why, with what political goals and under what conditions form a mono-ethnic political majority in any multi-ethnic environment. From everyday contacts with them, I know that they are against the formation of a mono-ethnic local government in Bujanovac, and their silence can be interpreted in several ways. We have no right to harm the state and the people who live in it by reacting hastily, with harsh and threatening rhetoric. This does not mean that we have given up the territory of our three municipalities. On the contrary, our obligation is to preserve the territorial integrity of our country and the lives of our citizens, and we will do that without big words and empty promises, but in a way that affirms Serbia as a country of serious, well-educated and responsible people, who respect others but also protect their interests.  

Source: “Politika” daily and Coordination Body