Halimi in warning over south

An ethnic Albanian leader in the Preševo Valley is questioning whether the government has a plan for southern Serbia.

Source: B92, FoNet

Riza Halimi, the only Albanian MP in Serbia's parliament, told FoNet news agency today that the new government ought to deal with the region seriously, but that "some of its moves cast a doubt over Belgrade's intentions".

He specified that a letter sent by Education Minister Žarko Obradović to the municipal presidents in Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac, instructing them not to recognize diplomas issued by the University of Priština and stamped by UNMIK, "arrived out of the blue, since this problem was resolved in 2001".

"This was one of the greatest achievements, which opened up the possibility of integration of Albanians into local self-governments. Obradović's order blocks the functioning of the local and state institutions," Halimi believes.

He also told the news agency that he had sent letters to Premier Mirko Obradović, the OSCE and ambassadors of the countries engaged in the political process in southern Serbia.

In the wake of the 1999 war in Kosovo, armed ethnic Albanian groups started attacking Serbian forces, bringing the region to the brink of war. An internationally brokered agreement in 2001 diffused the crisis.

Today, Halimi said that he expects the diploma issue to be solved by September.

"Otherwise, there will be big problems and the situation will start to destabilize," he warned, and added that he expects the government to consider Obradović's decision, "and all of its consequences".

Halimi also said that the three municipal chiefs have not been actively involved in the making of a draft Coordinating Body for Southern Serbia strategy, prepared in Belgrade.

"The strategy contains several wrong political appraisals, such as that Albanians are not taking part in the integration because they boycotted elections. Even though some parties boycotted, we had active participation of Albanians in elections. There has always been readiness to take part in local and state institutions," he continued.

Halimi added that the start of Albanian participation "is also possible through objections to this program", and said that only then, this body would start "truly functioning after a long pause since 2004".

The ethnic Albanian leader described the economic situation in southern Serbia as "a catastrophe", with no privatization, "while the Coordinating Body showed no interest to solve these problems".

Halimi expressed expectation that ethnic minority issues will be treated "more seriously", and urged adoption of a law on minorities.


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Politics Saturday, August 30, 2008 15:20 Comments: 2
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