Kosovo office head urges "dialogue instead of arrests"

BELGRADE -- Marko Đurić has criticized the EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX for issuing arrest warrants against the current and former mayors of Zubin Potok.

The director of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija at the same time called for dialogue as a way resolve problems.

"Those warrants have caused great distress among the Serbs in northern Kosovo, so it is necessary to sit down and discuss a constructive solution to these cases as soon as possible," he stressed.

"We see this as pressure against our people's representatives and something that is not only unacceptable, but also a significant obstacle to all our efforts to bring relations back to normal... and that is why dialogue with EULEX is where we see a solution, or the way to deal with these issues," he noted.

Đurić says it is also very important for all those who make decisions regarding the judiciary in the current interregnum in northern Kosovo to do it responsibly.

Acting EULEX Chief Joelle Vachter stated on Sunday that warrants have been issued for the arrest of Zubin Potok Mayor Stevan Vulović and former Mayor Slaviša Ristić.

In an interview for the Kosovska Mitrovica-based Kontakt Plus radio, Vachter said that Vulović is suspected of organizing escape of several arrestees, while Ristić is charged with endangering UN and accompanying staff and a grave murder.

The arrest warrants have been issues and if Vulović and Ristić appear in Kosovo, it will be up to the prosecutor to decide whether to hold them in custody or not, since it is a decision for the judiciary and not for any kind of political authority, Vachter said.

The Serb National Council (SVM) of northern Kosovo and Metohija said in a statement that the arrest warrants have shown that EULEX does have "secret lists for arrest of Serbs."

"Vachter's statement negates all previous claims by EULEX top officials that such lists do not exist,” the SVM said.