News archive


13. July 2012.

What is the situation in South Serbia that you are leaving to your successor like, since you are soon to leave our country?  What thus-far achievements in South Serbia make you quite satisfied, and in which field in South Serbia, in your opinion, there is some room for improvement?

“The OSCE Mission’s Office has been present in South Serbia since 2001.  We started with providing assistance with establishing a police force, providing training for local journalists, giving support to  multi-ethnic local authorities, and ended up with the opening of a multiethnic Faculty of Economics’  Department in Bujanovac. I would emphasize this as the crown of the several years’ long efforts of the Government of Serbia and all its partners to once again show that the priorities in a stable environment lie in the economic progress and in investment in education. On the other hand, it seems to me that the primary and secondary schools are still ethnically divided and that some kind of action plan is needed to integrate education at that level.  When you sum up the entire work done in South Serbia, I would say that there are far more positive developments, but of course much remains to be done, since there is always room for improvement. Making Investments in South Serbia’s infrastructure, as well as job creation, as, after all, elsewhere in Serbia, is currently a burning issue. Also, integration of minorities and their quality representation in the state institutions requires substantial support of the Serbian government. On the other hand, the work of National Councils can and should also play an important role in promoting the rights of ethnic Albanians in Serbia. The Council should make full use of the powers vested in the law, so that it could meet the requirements and needs of the community it represents, help with its integration and preserve cultural heritage and diversity. “

After the constituent meeting of the  Municipal Assembly of Bujanovac of  June 8, 2012,  the leaders of Albanian parties  remaining in the opposition said it was because they did not, as in the past, all  join the government, which threatened the "stability and security" of the region. What is your position on this issue?

 “It is important that the local self-government in Bujanovac reflects the multiethnic nature of the municipality. I think that the forming of multiethnic government, as in the previous years, is a very important step for democracy in the region. It is always good to have a good opposition within each government, including municipal governments, too.  It is good that the work of any government, including the local government, is under the watchful eye of the people who have experience in working in the governmental bodies.

What the OSCE expects from the new government in Bujanovac and what kind of support it would have from your organization?
“I have already mentioned infrastructure as an important component of the infrastructural development. In this respect, many people, who have temporarily fled their homes, are staying in temporary accommodation facilities and I think we all want to see that it is possible to find a permanent and good solution to the issue. It could be said that this condition affects the development of the region and prevents the people from continuing normal earning, advancing in life, and I know that they can’t wait. In this regard, everyone expects a lot from Belgrade and the local government.  I hope that the new local government will realize the full significance of the problem and treat it with great care, because, we, along with the international community, should all work on finding the necessary financial funds for a permanent solution to the issue.
What are your comments on the statements made by specific local officials of Bujanovac and Presevo, especially on those made by Ragmi Mustafa, President of the Municipality of Presevo, or Jonuz Musliu, who was until recently President of the parliament in Bujanovac, that they would advocate for the annexation of South Serbia to Kosovo?

“The international community and all relevant political representatives in the Western Balkans have openly made it clear that there would be no change of borders in the region.

Can such statements destabilize the region?

“In the political declarations, which the Albanian delegates previously unanimously adopted in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2011, the existing boundaries were clearly established. Any statement that is inconsistent with this stance, fails to reflect the attitude of the Albanian politicians reached by consensus in the declarations. During three years that I spent in the region, I noticed an increasing number of irresponsible statements and actions. That’s why I think it is important for both local and state authorities to pay more attention to improving the lives of the Serbian citizens, regardless of whether they live in Presevo, Smederevo or Tutin. The quality of life, education, municipal services, health care, fight against corruption, economic prosperity and improved environmental protection are the things that are important to all citizens, regardless of whether they live in Europe or the United States. That’s why I think that every politician who assumes the responsibility for dealing with such a responsible public work must start from these principles.