For two decades, residents of the village of Miroce have been denied the right to maintain their property

By Dusko Milenkovic

We, the residents of the village of Miroce, municipality of Vucitrn, have been facing the problem of not being able to manage our private property for the last 20 years, as all our household facilities have been destroyed, land and forests have been appropriated, and the perpetrators of these crimes are preventing us from renting or selling our property to other buyers – Albanians.

The police from Vucitrn, after receiving a report by the owner of an estate regarding usurped property, determined that the usurpers are members of the A. family (cf. last name known to the editorial office) from the neighboring Albanian village of Karace, who built a huge facility at the edge of the village – a cattle farm, which roam freely throughout the village of Miroce.

The proceedings which we initiated with the Kosovo Property Agency (whose name was later changed), and the competent Municipal Court in Vucitrn failed to solve our problems, because of countless administrative problems in those institutions in the past 20 years and the general adverse situation on the ground.

The only court procedure that is coming to an end was directed to mediation at the beginning of the year, when the usurper offered to buy the entire property from the plaintiff (the property owner) at almost ten times lowerthan the actual market price, but,as it turned out, that he was unable to make this happen either. Over the past year, a total of six hearings were canceled for another property owner (after several years of stalled proceedings) after either the prosecutor, judge, or usurper failed to show up at the scheduled hearing.

The members of the A. family have so far declared at court hearings and to property owners that they will buy their property, expecting that this will mean a delay and even the suspension of further court proceedings. They have neither intention nor the funds to buy properties from all property owners. They claim that they bought the property from an owner who has since passed away and whose children live abroad, but they have never provided proof of sale and transfer of the property – not even in court.

We believe that our problem has so far not been interpreted properly by the institutions to which we have reached out to solve the problem, as it is not a matter of an individual dispute between a Serbian and an Albanian family regarding the usurpation of arable land or meadow, but about the years-long complete destruction and exploitation of our households and property by a neighboring Albanian family.

On February 8th and March 1st, 2023, in order to solve our problems in a concrete and definitive way, we submitted pleas and relevant evidence to the following e-mail addresses (from official websites): Embassies and consular branch offices of 42 countries; 14 international organizations; 17 higher levels of government and media in Pristina and 65 other institutions, media in Serbia and the region. On both occasions, we emphasized that we do not have any political or provocative motives, but that it is an appeal sent by us – the inhabitants of the now-destroyed village of Miroce – to solve the issue.

To date, the Ministry of Justice of Kosovo referred us to regular court procedures, while the agency Srna reacted and published the text on March 2nd, 2023.

On this occasion, we would like to point out the following facts:

1) the village of Miroce with 14 households no longer exists on the ground, which is clearly seen from two comparative aerial photographs of the cadastre of the municipality of Vucitrn from 2001 and 2018. The chronological account of the destruction of the village is shown in the material dated February 8, 2023, where we attached 5 aerial photographs from the website of the Kosovo Cadastral Agency (from 2001, 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2018), as well as 15 satellite photographs from website „Google Earth pro“ (from 2003, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021).

All our houses, outbuildings and walls, 40-100 years old at the time we left the property, were made of wood and stone. From the above-mentioned photographs, it can be seen that nothing was set on fire or destroyed, thus leaving behind burnt areas or ruins. That is why we believe that the facilities were left to fall into disrepair and that the material was transferred to another location and probably incorporated into other buildings. Only two smaller brick buildings, built between 1990-2000, were not demolished.

2) For 20 years, the properties of all local owners from the village of Miroce, as well as owners of arable land and forests from the neighboring village of Gojbulja, who had properties spread across the village of Miroce, have been exploited. The owners’ forests were cut down. All the orchards were cut down and turned into arable land or pastures. All arable land or meadows owned by several individuals were joined into large areas, by plowing down the borders wherever possible. This is clearly seen in the attached aerial photographs of the cadastre of the municipality of Vucitrn from 2001 and 2018. In fact, that family has been using agriculture subsidies given by the institutions in Pristina for years, without proof of ownership or approval of the owner of the property.

3) Our problem cannot be solved in a realistic and final way through court proceedings because there is a huge number of serious crimes against all property owners. Even if it were feasible to end the court proceedings with appropriate verdicts, it would not solve our problems and make it possible for us to manage our private property in the future. In addition, it is clear that:

• the perpetrators of those criminal acts simply could not serve the total number of years in prison in their lifetime,

• it is not possible to expect compensation for damage from the property of the perpetrator of criminal acts, as well as

• the possible referral of the perpetrator of criminal acts to serve a prison sentence after the first completed court procedure would automatically cause even greater problems for other property owners, and this is clear to everyone who knows the situation on the ground.

In the aforementioned e-mails, we proposed that the delegation of the village of Miroce, with proof of ownership, be received by the representatives of the US and Great Britain embassies in Pristina, with the presence of representatives of the higher institutions of Pristina and the municipality of Vucitrn. We proposed that all our allegations are verified to ascertain that we are forced to seek the help of relevant factors, as well as to record a show in the village of Miroce, broadcast by television stations reporting in Albanian and Serbian language in front of all viewers, as well as a foreign audience.

For all the above-mentioned reasons, we, the former residents and legal owners of the property in the village of Miroce, see no other way to solve the problem, than to turn to the relevant institutions and media to help us force the perpetrators of serious crimes to cease causing us problems in our attempt to sell the private property to others Albanian buyers because it is clear that he has no intention or money to buy property from all property owners.

And as to whether the Kosovo authorities, in the case of the sale of the property, will continue to charge the perpetrators with serious crimes committed by destroying houses and outbuildings, cutting down forests and other serious crimes, it truly means nothing to us property owners.

We hope you will understand what we have been going through for almost two decades, as we helplessly watch – as displaced persons – as our households, land and forests are carelessly and persistently destroyed by certain people, while our requests to the competent institutions to solve the problem have not yielded any results.

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