Ahead of the seventh extraordinary parliamentary elections in Kosovo scheduled for October 6, the Kosovo Serb political scene is divided over whether to participate in these elections, or not, while those willing to take a chance are confronted by the in so far major Kosovo Serb force – Srpska Lista. Such a political landscape seems rather confusing to the public. While one coalition of Serb parties – the „Koalicija Slobode“ (Coalition of Freedom) has already registered for the elections, the deadline for submitting individual lists is still open, until September 6.
In the coming days, KoSSev will introduce a who is who in this Kosovo Serb political landscape. Here we present the National Movement Otadzbina, as they were among the first to speak up on their view towards the Kosovo ballot: They will boycott it and called further Kosovo Serbs to follow their decision.
Three years ago, they gathered mainly around the fallen structure of the once most influential Serbian parliamentary party – the Democratic Party of Serbia. Its provincial Kosovo branch was dissolved, as well. They maintained the political values of the Democratic Party of Serbia in its essence – specifically on the Kosovo issue, perceiving it as an integral part of the Republic of Serbia and repeatedly stressing that there should be no political negotiation or cooperation with Kosovo institutions.
Otadzbina’s position has been clear and invariable ever since it was formed: “We believe that the elections announced by Pristina are separatist and Serbs should not participate in it,” the leader of Otadzbina movement, Slavisa Ristic told KoSSev.
Although he emphasized that this is their key position, Ristic added that there is another perspective:
„The conditions for these elections are the same as those created by President Aleksandar Vucic for Serbia – there are no conditions for free and democratic elections.“
„When Aleksandar Vucic is calling on Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija to participate in the Kosovo elections, he says that by doing so Kosovo’s independence is not being recognized, which is not true – quite the opposite. Kosovo is virtually receiving recognition with the participation of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija in Pristina elections. Moreover, it is the most obvious example of recognition of the institutions of the „Republic of Kosovo“,” Ristic argued.
When asked if Otadzbina might change its decision on boycotting the Kosovo elections should this process meet in its entirety transparency, legality and a free campaign – Ristic replied:
„Under these conditions, in a situation in which Pristina and most of the international community feel that the status issue has been resolved and that Kosovo has obtained its own state – certainly not. But if the negotiations were to bring a decision on Kosovo’s status as not a separate state and with no UN membership – that would be a totally different thing. It would then likely mean that there would be conditions not only for us, but for other Serbian political entities to participate in the election process.“
At a presidency session held in late August, Otadzbina made the decision to boycott the elections announced by Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci, referring to it as „separatist and contrary to the current Constitution of the Republic of Serbia“.
„If the President of Serbia is trampling over the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia on a daily basis, we – the Serbs from Kosovo – should not help him in betraying the country by participating in fake elections,“ they wrote in a statement at the time.
In addition to the boycott of the Kosovo elections, they called on citizens in Kosovo to boycott the upcoming regular parliamentary elections in Serbia in the spring of 2020.
„The National Movement of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija ‘Otadzbina’ believes that the conditions for holding normal and regular elections in the Republic of Serbia have not been met. The largest vote rigging during previous elections for the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia held in 2016 took place in Kosovo and Metohija,“ Otadzbina statement reads.
The National Movement „Otadzbina“ is registered in the Serbian system as a citizens’ association. It is composed of former members and supporters of the Democratic Party of Serbia, led by Vojislav Kostunica, a former president of the FRY. Today, Kostunica is just another Serbian citizen living a quiet life, out of the public focus.
An independent deputy in the Serbian Parliament, Slavisa Ristic, who was the mayor of Zubin Potok within the Serbian system until August 2013, was elected leader of the Otadzbina movement in February 2018. At the time, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia introduced provisional measures and dissolved the local assembly, which was formed during the last elections within the Serbian system held in the north of Kosovo (in Zubin Potok and Zvecan in 2012 and in Leposavic and North Mitrovica in 2010). Nenad Kojic, PhD. from Kosovska Vitina and engineer Nebojsa Radulovic from Leposavic were elected as Vice-Presidents.
They initially caught the public eye as activists who strongly opposed the first local elections in municipalities in the north within the Kosovo system held in November 2013.
Although they have supporters and members south of the Ibar, Ristic admitted that most of them are located in the north. Otadzbina recently became a member of „Savez Za Srbiju“ (Alliance for Serbia). Their most visible activities so far include regular press releases, primarily criticizing the policy of Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic on Kosovo, personnel policy and crime.
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