By Tatjana Lazarević (The Serbian version of the text was originally published on October 2nd)
„How big of a patriot are you, between your villas at Kosare and Gazivode?“ (aphorist Jovan Zafirović)
Today marks exactly two years since the special units of the Kosovo Police withdrew from Jarinje and Brnjak after the 13-day license plates crisis. Temporarily.
Serbs blocked the main roads at the two crossings for almost two weeks after the Kosovo government decided on September 20, 2021 to introduce reciprocity – temporary plates for vehicles from Serbia and to remove Serbian plates with markings of towns in Kosovo.
The implementation of this decision at two northern crossings began with the presence of special police units, which were then immediately blocked by the Serbs with heavy machinery and the presence of hundreds of state employees who arrived in shifts, as per a duty roster.
After 10 days of blockade, a solution was reached in Brussels – a temporary sticker regime until a final decision could be reached, which has yet to happen. Jarinje and Brnjak are now blocked again, this time without barricades.
„I think the Serbs are satisfied that Rosu withdrew… You witnessed the enthusiasm of our people in Brnjak and Zubin Potok and Jarinje and in the municipality of Leposavic, when their forces were already leaving the north of Kosovo. They shouldn’t have come there. It is important that people are happy and satisfied,“ the President of Serbia said from Dubai, two years ago yesterday.
That evening, he mentioned happiness several times.
„It’s important that people are happy, we’re struggling somehow to at least keep our noses above water, if we can’t keep our mouths.“
At the time, he gave a lecture on how to exit the crisis peacefully, while „losing as little as possible for your country, and gaining as much as possible“, with the requisite mention of chess.
„We are in a difficult position, we are also short of time, and our position, our king’s wing, our whole king is exposed without pawns, without figures, but the little we have left – we will fight, there are different variants in which we can draw a mate or draw.“
He brought up the cries of „Serbia! Serbia!“ which could be heard during the retreat of the armored special forces further south. „The people are relieved.“
In the south, during that time, Albanians brought flowers and threw them in front of armored vehicles, welcoming the special forces as heroes.
„Reciprocity“ was a catchphrase used by Pristina.
„Kosovo has a new sovereign government that no one can blackmail because of its part in crime and corruption. Sovereignty and legality will be extended to the entire territory of the Republic of Kosovo at any cost. Crime and corruption will be fought at every corner. For 13 days, the Kosovo police proved that, in addition to being professional, they are also ready to successfully carry out their mission. Thank you infinitely,“ said the Kosovo Minister of Internal Affairs.
On the first day of implementation of the agreement, on October 4th, Xhelal Svecla came to Jarinje and Brnjak, which he will continue to visit on a monthly basis, or even more frequently.
„Reciprocity with Serbia – decided on September 20 – to continue on October 4!“ he said from the crossing.
One year ago, from Dubai, the Serbian president tried to leave an impression of reality:
„It appears to me that it is clear to everyone who lost how much, and that we Serbs should be some kind of winners, no matter how nice it seems to us when ROSU, which comes to the north of Kosovo as a bully and seems to them that it can do whatever it wants, in the end has to collect their junk and to return to their base with work unfinished“.
That work was completed two years later.
The action, which was unsuccessfully carried out by an armed uniformed group of Serbs in Banjska on September 24th, apart from the loss of human lives and the destruction of the Banjska monastery, had serious consequences – primarily for the position of the remaining Serbs in Kosovo, as well as for Serbia’s reputation and its interests.
It was carried out at a time of visible international pressure on Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s policies, especially towards the Serbs and the dialogue with Belgrade; when Belgrade was viewed as being far more constructive, and Serbs from Kosovo were listened to carefully. Their testimonies about the fact that Kosovo special forces are not welcome in the north were met with understanding and agreement, in most cases.
Special forces returned to the north again in October 2021, just 9 days after Svecla’s visit to Jarinje and Brnjak.
On October 13, special police units carried out a coordinated action throughout Kosovo, including the north, as they confirmed, in order to prevent smuggling, but unrest broke out in North Mitrovica and Zvecan.
The action was planned at a total of 26 locations throughout Kosovo, 9 of which were supposed to be in the north, but only one was successful, because security information was allegedly leaked. A total of 8 people were arrested, a warrant was issued for 10 more, most of whom were Albanians. One Serb sustained serious gunshot wounds in Zvecan.
An urgent meeting was held in Raska – between the state, military and police leadership of Serbia and the leaders of Srpska Lista and a group of citizens that they took with them.
„When you are cornered like a rat, surrender is not an option, let them try and they will see,“ said Vučić.
Another more striking message was given to these Serbs: If they resort to violence, you protect the people, and we will stand with you.
The words of the Serbs from the north resonated strongly in the Serbian Army facility.
„Should they start taking our children and us out of our Kosovo and Metohija in coffins so that you will stand behind us to protect us?“
Along with coffins, the public also listened to the brave men who spoke about clothing.
„We have our soldiers and policemen, if they can’t be in uniform, they can come to us in tracksuits, because we really need help and protection here“ said the then-mayor of Leposavic in the Kosovo system, Zoran Todić, who was the one who originally proposed this.
„President Aleksandar Vučić, these men won’t wear skirts, they want to live a life worthy of a human being, we want to live like human beings, if they don’t let us live, we have to defend life and the future, and how – we’ll see“ – added one of Milan Radoičić’s staunchest supporters, and the vice-president of Srpska Lista, Igor Simić.
For a reason, most people looked to the real leader of these rebel Serbs, many of whom were still on the payroll of the Kosovo institutions.
„President, you heard what these brave men said, I will only tell you one thing on behalf of all of them – that next time we will defend ourselves to the end, to the death,“ said Milan Radoičić in October 2021.
Special units of Kosovo police were stationed permanently in the north, and soon began building bases and checkpoints. Death has already befallen us, including spilled Albanian blood, which Vučić has been repeating for months that it was fortunate it was not spilled. The last time he said so was from the podium of the United Nations three days before the Banjska events.
Invisible protection, visible damage
Today, two years later, from Serbia proper, where he returned with the rest of the group, Radoičić assumed full responsibility for Banjska. Epilogue: At least four confirmed deaths, with the most important emphasis cementing what the president had previously told him – the government in Belgrade has nothing to do with it.
„We will protect our people. How? I hope you never have to see it“ – Vučić also said from Dubai on October 2, 2021.
Today, the public stares with disbelief at the videos that the Kosovo authorities publish as part of the special information and propaganda war as alleged evidence that these paramilitary members left behind when they fled. From the broken monastery gate, through luxury and all-terrain vehicles, weapons and equipment, including the one scattered in the forests of Banjska, through personal documents, lists of weapons, recordings of their own training in the Pasuljanske Livade and Kopaonik, and even the attack itself…
The Serbian Army denies any responsibility. They say that Milan Radoičić did not even respond to calls for military exercises. The murdered Serbs did not even serve in the military. The turnout of reservists from Kosovo to regular exercises is extremely low, even bad discipline was recorded among some who responded, the Chief of the General Staff revealed today.
President, you were right. The Serbs did not see (it).
Strahinić Bane was a person much renowned!
Bane lived in little Banjska,
in little Banjska, near Kosovo,
a falcon such as he, could nowhere else be seen.
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