Kurti on the 17th anniversary of demonstrations against Ahtisaari: We rightly opposed mono-ethnic concessions

Kurti odavanje počasti Arbenu Đeljadiniju i Monu Baljaju Priština
FOTO: Aljbin Kurti/Fejsbuk

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, paid tribute to Self-Determination activists, Arben Xheladini and Mon Balaj, who were killed 17 years ago during protests against the Ahtisaari plan, that is, negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. In front of the memorial plaque in Pristina on Saturday, he declared that „thousands of bodies united and opposed the mono-ethnic concessions of Ahtisaari’s package“.

On February 10, 2007, the protest in question was led by Kurti with several slogans – „Decentralization is division, division is war“, „Down with negotiating groups“, „No negotiations“. Kurti also participated in resisting the police, and others followed his example.

The demonstrations, announced as peaceful, eventually escalated. Approximately 80 protesters were injured, and two were killed. Self-determination blamed the Romanian contingent of UNMIK for their murder.

Two days later, the former minister of internal affairs of provisional institutions resigned.

The sections of Ahtisaari’s plan concerning the protection of the rights of non-majority communities were incorporated into the Kosovo constitution the following year- in 2008. These were primarily elements for the protection of the non-majority, that is, the Serbian community. From the beginning, they have been the subject of fierce opposition from Albin Kurti, as well as other leaders.

Opposing Ahtisaari’s package, Self-Determination gained more support and later continued to push for the removal of elements of Ahtisaari’s plan from the Kosovo constitution.

During the time as an activist, later an opposition figure, and now as the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti did not change this stance, and this year he reminded of what he sees as the justified cause of the protests in 2007.

„17 years ago, we, the members of Self-Determination, rightfully went for the people’s right to self-determination, for freedom with rights, for independence with sovereignty, for a state with democracy. On February 10, 2007, we were in the square where protests were held for decades: in 1968, as well as in 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1997 and 1998,“ Kurti said in a Facebook post.

He emphasizes that „thousands of bodies united“ in order to, he claims, „peacefully oppose the mono-ethnic concessions of Ahtisaari’s package“, which was announced eight days earlier, on February 2, 2007.

„On that day, after we had opposed in the previous days, criticizing in forums and public debates, we opposed the decentralization made by the municipality on an ethnic basis with a peaceful protest; extraterritorial areas that would serve Orthodox monasteries and churches; the complete shutdown of the Kosovo Defense Forces; the inclusion of Kosovo in Serbia’s foreign debt; by the undemocratic veto of deputies with guaranteed and reserved seats in the Assembly of Kosovo; and the continuation of the international administration in Kosovo with executive power over us and without responsibility towards us,“ said Kurti.

He also says that at that time they warned of many consequences for society and „the state of Kosovo, which we have suffered for years, and which in the meantime have turned into the causes of other consequences“.

„On that day, we protested together with the symbol of the resistance of the Kosovo Albanians, Father Adem Demaci, who declared: ‘This is our way, the way of Kosovo,'“ says Kurti.

And on that very day, he adds, „the road to Kosovo was covered with tear gas thrown by UNMIK’s international police officers.“

„The air of Pristina’s main square was filled with smoke, and its ground was filled with rubber bullets of various sizes that were fired at the protesters, violating the protocol of their use in the crowd. The demonstrators were hit by a total of 232 bullets, two of whom were killed, Mon Balaj and Arben Xheladini, while 80 other demonstrators were seriously and lightly injured,“ adds Kurti.

The Prime Minister of Kosovo claims that the international police officers who „attacked the demonstrators“ are protected by international immunity.

„But like that day, like today and tomorrow, no one can ever have immunity before justice!“ adds Kurti.

He also states that „they sought self-determination for the people of Kosovo, justice and equality for its citizens, as well as a true democratic republic as a sovereign state.“

„On that day, we were determined for self-determination and democracy, persistent for justice and equality and committed to the republic and integrity,“ adds Kurti.

The Prime Minister of Kosovo states that a few weeks after February 10, 2007, the former Finnish President, UN Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, in his report addressed to the UN Secretary General, which contained his package dated February 2, 2007, added an introductory page on proposes „supervised independence“ as the status of Kosovo.

„That day was February 10, just like today, when 17 years later we remember a fair protest with its political demands and the martyrs of the political path we followed that brought us here. On that day, as well as today, we stand by our right to self-determination, to democracy and to the republic!“ adds Kurti.

In connection with Kurti’s statements, several NGOs in Kosovo reacted yesterday, stating that they are concerned because he „bragged“ about the role of his party in opposing decentralization, protected zones for the SOC and other provisions of the Ahtisaari package.

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