Demolition of houses was "favor to Serbs" says mayor
Đakovica Mayor Mimoza Kusari Lila has said that the decision to demolish five Serb houses was made "in order to protect the safety of the citizens."Source: Tanjug
According to her, the reason was "not because they were owned by Serbs."
Five houses owned by a Serb family called Stefić were demolished in Đakovica, a town in southwestern Kosovo, on Monday. The family does not live in Kosovo.
Kusari told the TV station RTK2 "the owners had not been informed about the demolition, but only UNMIK."
Local authorities decided to tear the buildings down "after complaints from citizens that the houses could collapse and that they constituted a threat to their safety," she explained.
After inspection, "authorities decided to demolish the buildings and posted the decision on the municipality's website," she stated.
When asked if the local government would compensate the owners, she responded that "they had in fact done a favor to the Serb family by knocking down the buildings."
Kosovo Minister of Community and Return Dalibor Jevtić criticized the decision to tear down the houses, adding that it "went against the efforts to bring the Serbs who had fled the conflict in Kosovo back to their homes."
"The events in Đakovica are in my view an act that goes against the process of return. We here are working as an institution to build something, while on the other side, there are institutions who do the opposite," he pointed out.
President of the association of displaced persons from Đakovica Đokica Stanojević said it was not the first case of Serb-owned buildings being demolished in that town.
"The church of the Ascension of the Holy Mother was torn down in 2004. Later, another church was demolished in the very centre of Đakovica. All the churches in the town have been knocked down, all the houses destroyed. .The worst of it is - who is destroying our houses - those who occupied our houses in Serb Street," Stanojević said.
Director of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo Marko Đurić on Tuesday condemned in the strongest terms the destruction of five Serb houses and asked the international community and the Albanian authorities in Priština to prevent attacks on Serbs and ensure they were safe and secure.
By destroying the Serb houses, extremist Albanians sent a clear, but very bad message that they do not want to see Serbs in the area of Đakovica, Đurić said.
Đurić pointed out that Đakovica had been home to some 12,500 Serbs before 1999 and that ever since none of them have been able to return to their homes.