Protesters in Pristina rally over Trepca, Serb minister
Protesters in Pristina have demanded the removal of Aleksandar Jablanovic from the Kosovo government, and a law that would turn Trepca into a public enterprise.
The rally was organized by opposition parties and civic organizations and held on Saturday.
Shouting “Jablanovic out! Trepca is ours,” demonstrators gathered in front of the National Library in Pristina, where they started a protest walk down to the Kosovo government building, where the organizers of the protest addressed the gathering.
After the rally ended, a small group of protesters pelted the government building and broke the glass in some of the windows, prompting a police intervention which included the use of tear gas.
The Beta news agency reported that 23 people were injured - 19 of them members of the police, while 20 were taken into police custody.
A police cordon had been set up in front the government headquarters before the rally began. The police had earlier informed the public that the protest’s organizers had not provided the authorities with a notification of the protest in the way prescribed by the law.
The rally was organized by the Self-Determination Movement and the Mothers’ Appeal Association, with the support of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, the Initiative for Kosovo and students of Pristina University.
Self-Determination leader Albin Kurti spoke on behalf of the organizers and "gave an ultimatum” to Prime Minister Mustafa to dismiss Jablanovic and have a law on the Mining, Metallurgical and Chemical Combine Trepca adopted "by 4 p.m. Monday."
Otherwise, Kurti and leader of the Initiative for Kosovo Fatmir Limaj said, a new demonstration would be organized on Tuesday and the people would not stop protesting until the government of Kosovo stepped down.
Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo Ramus Haradinaj said that the protest was a sign of Kosovo lacking economic development and a policy that would lead to progress, Tanjug said.
On January 15, the government of Kosovo adopted amendments to the law on public enterprises, which should enable it to take over 100 percent of all ownership and management rights in the Trepca Combine, and to take over some other companies.
The Serbian government reacted sharply to Pristina's intentions, warning them that it would not allow the seizure of Serbia's public property, and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic immediately informed Western partners (Quint countries) and the EU about it.
The proposed amendments to the law on public enterprises were debated under emergency procedure at an extraordinary session of the Kosovo Assembly on December 19.
The former giant Trepca, in which the Republic of Serbia Development Fund holds a 56 percent stake, while the rest is owned by several Serbian companies and employees, was taken out of the proposed document at the last moment.
Mustafa said that the government in Pristina was seeking not to have the Trepca case debated because as it had not been aware that Trepca was EUR 1.4 billion in debt, and proposed the enactment of a special legislation.
Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) and Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) reporters have been attacked during ethnic Albanian protests in Pristina.
The Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS) and its branch, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and Metohija (DNKiM), strobgly condemned the attack on a RTK2 crew and a RTS cameraman, as well as the manhandling they were subjected to while reporting from the protest.
"The UNS and the DNKiM request that police authorities and Eulex take all necessary measures and find the perpetrators of the attack on the RTK2 crew and the RTS cameraman and prevent new attempts to attack media workers in Kosovo," the UNS said in a statement.
At the rally RTK 2 reporters Aleksandra Jovanovic and Bojan Kosanin and RTS cameraman Vladimir Milic were physically attacked, manhandled and provoked, the UNS said.
It all happened in central Pristina, outside the building of the Ministry of Culture - we were sworn at, threatened, dragged around and pelted by stones, said Kasanin, a UNS member.
Milic said that a masked protester attempted to snatch his camera away from him.
"He had a white cap with a 'Kosovo Liberation Army' emblem, and a scarf across his face with the Albanian flag on it," he told the UNS.