Media release in relation to the newest security incident involving Dragica Gašić
New Social Initiative (NSI) points to the danger of the lack of reactions and information that attempt to justify potential ethnically motivated incidents against returnees in Kosovo.
Attacks and robberies targeting returnees and their property in Kosovo have, for years, been dismissed under the justification that they have been committed for economic reasons. While this may be true in some cases, there is a lack of acknowledgment of the fact that, regardless of the motive, such crimes have a greater impact on the perception of security of vulnerable groups such as minority communities and returnees than on members of the majority community in rural areas who face the same security challenges.
However, having in mind the media hype, the negative reaction of the civil society from Đakovica/Gjakova, and the absence of condemnation of those reactions by the leaders of Kosovo institutions, the most recent attack on the property of Dragica Gašić from Đakovica/Gjakova must be viewed through the lens of deteriorating interethnic relations.
It is not only that the reactions of the leaders of Kosovo’s institutions were absent, but Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti recently implicitly questioned Dragica Gasic’s right to return to Đakovica/Gjakova and the legality of her property rights. While replying in Brussels to the question of whether he, as the Prime Minister of Kosovo, will enable anyone who wants to return to Đakovica/Gjakova to live normally, Kurti stated the following:
“I am very sorry that Mr. Petković (Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija) and Vučić, are abusing the elderly in Serbia and bringing them with cameras on Vidovdan to Kosovo. That means that they don’t care about those people, they are making a show in order to send a message that Albanians are not hospitable towards Serbs, with cameras, on Vidovdan. This means that it this nothing to do with good intentions towards Ms. Gasic’s well-being (…) All those who own property in Kosovo, have either land or an apartment, can return, unless they sold the land or the apartment, and if Milošević did not give it to them, that is important too. There are a lot of Albanians whose apartments were taken away by Milošević and given to family members of a police officer from Belgrade,” (statement for Tanjug, from 46:42).
With this statement, Kurti not only suggested that Gasic was instrumentalized and thus further endangered her security but also directly interfered in the work of judicial and other competent institutions which should make their decisions independently, as they obviously did in the case of Dragica Gasic, confirming her right to return and facilitating this process.
The very fact that Dragica Gačić returned to Đakovica/Gjakova clearly indicates that there is a bureaucratic structure in Kosovo in charge of facilitating the return process. These institutions, such as the Municipal Officer for Communities and Returns and the Ministry of Communities and Returns fulfilled their responsibilities and facilitated this process in the Gašić case and numerous other examples, but it is also increasingly apparent that political support for this technical part is lacking.
Having a political disagreement with previous governments is not uncommon, but most politicians eventually show maturity and see the need to respect the decisions of previous governments, courts, and assemblies.
Hoping that this will be the case now and that the authorities in Kosovo will respect the rule of law and implement decisions of immense importance for multiethnicity in Kosovo, we remind that the Kosovo Property, Comparison, and Verification Agency confirmed Dragica’s right to use the apartment, that the Constitutional court confirmed the ownership of the Decani monastery over 24 ha of land in the vicinity of the monastery and that the Kosovo Assembly ratified the First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina, which the Kosovo Constitutional Court ruled must be implemented as it is an international agreement.
Finally, New Social Initiative recalls that the absence of condemnation of frequent incidents targeting Kosovo Serbs sends a message of tacit approval.