The first ethnic delimitation case took place yesterday in the municipality of Gracanica. At an urgent session of the municipal assembly, the Albanian-populated “Marigona” elite settlement was joined to Kosovo Polje municipality. The settlement contains 595 land parcels spread over 795,136 square meters and is extremely popular among wealthy ethnic Albanians. The proposal was adopted with 14 votes in favor.
The proposal to hand over approximately 15 ha of the territory of the Gracanica municipality to the municipality of Kosovo Polje was submitted by the Mayor of the Gracanica Municipality, Srdjan Popovic. Popovic did not, however, attend the session yesterday but was seen talking on the TV Pink morning show on the dwindling number of Serbs in Pristina, Pec and Djakovica, saying these places were left without them.
Instead, the head of the Department of Cadastre Nebojsa Sudimac explained and put forward the proposal.
The Mayor did not attend the session on his proposal
The Mayor of Gracanica, Srdjan Popovic, was a guest yesterday on the morning talk show on the Pink TV in Belgrade, where he stated that there are no Serbs in Pristina, Pec and Djakovica: „Nope. Unfortunately, there are no Serbs in Pristina. Around 40,000 Serbs lived in Pristina, the same in Pec and Djakovica. However, Serbs no longer live there. And we have to think rationally at the present time, we have to help our people where they continue to live and, as the President himself had said, we will invest more in every Serbian municipality, in every family, in every Serb. Because, in the end, depending on how many Serbs remain in Kosovo, that is how much Kosovo will belong to Serbs.” Popovic’s claims were challenged yesterday by journalists and civil society activists from central Kosovo and Metohija. Also, according to New Press production, Mayor Popovic claimed in the same talk show that there are around 17,000 residents in the municipality of Gracanica, while the website of this municipality states that there are about 25,000 residents in this municipality.
Annually, €25,000 of taxpayers’ money is collected from the Marigona settlement and another €70 paid quarterly by 17 registered businessmen who own private businesses. However, it is not clear where this money is currently going, RTV Kim said, reporting on the session.
The PDS President Nenad Rasic criticized this proposal a day before the session, claiming that this is “an attempted looting”. He also said that the tenants of the Marigona settlement are paying property tax to the municipality of Kosovo Polje. A deputy from the same party (PDS), Vidak Ristovic, however, voted in favor of this proposal.
Ristovic told RTV KIM that if the Marigona settlement remains within the municipality of Gracanica, the ethnic demographic structure of the municipality with the Serb majority will be changed.
„We have a situation in which we are suffering from a serious illness, if my fellow health-care professionals don’t mind me saying. The essence is to have the operation and remove the tumor or wait for it to bury you,“ Ristovic said.
The Mayor of Gracanica, although being absent from the session to which he submitted the proposal also claimed a change of the ethnic structure had the Marigona area stayed within Gracanica. He claimed furthermore that the proposal was submitted to the assembly „at the request of the locals who contacted the municipality“ to facilitate the administrative procedure and territorial proximity to the municipality of Kosovo Polje. „Among other things, we are stopping the change of the ethnic structure in our municipality,“ Popovic claimed.
The Executive Director of the Institute for Affirmation of Interethnic Relations (IAMN), Fatmir Sheholli, critized the decision to give up municipal land saying it was an unconstitutional decision. Sheholli said that the prosecution should investigate the mayor of the municipality of Gracanica, Srdjan Popovic, for violating the laws and the constitution.
Sheholli recalled that Ahtisaari’s plan predicted the borders of the municipalities in Kosovo in detail.
He also underlined that, by making this political decision, the Mayor of Gracanica sent a message to numerous Albanian villages in northern Kosovo to take the same step and join municipalities with an Albanian majority.
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