The fifth anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder two days ago was marked by commemorations in North Mitrovica, Belgrade and other towns, statements by family members, politicians from the north of Kosovo and Belgrade, but one from Pristina as well – from the prime minister, Albin Kurti. Once referring to Ivanovic as a war criminal, Kurti now said in a video message in Serbian that the slain politician from the north was someone who worked for multi-ethnic Kosovo, who was dedicated to the interests of his community and treated those with whom he disagreed with respect.
Albin Kurti’s statement was met with an avalanche of negative reactions in Pristina. „Shocking“, „shameful“, „trying to win the hearts of Serbs“ – the opposition claimed. The media in Pristina recalled the proceedings led against Ivanovic on war crimes charges, many noting that he was convicted in 2016, but without specifying that it was not a final verdict, and that the case was sent back for a retrial by the decision of the Court of Appeals in 2017, i.e. a little less than a year before Ivanovic was assassinated.
Historians, analysts, and sociologists made guest appearances in TV shows and portals, accusing Kurti of „paying tribute to a criminal“, some alleged that „the glorification of Ivanovic is a moral, national and historical crime“, and others said that it was a tactical move of the Prime Minister of Kosovo toward the Serb community.
Those who presented themselves as the families of „victims of Ivanovic“ also made guest appearances, while media shared news pieces with headlines such as: „He can’t stop his tears while talking about how Ivanovic took away members of his family to kill them“; „The victim who testified against Ivanovic turns against Kurti“; „I curse my hand for voting for Kurti“.
Bekim Blakaj from the Humanitarian Law Center also shared his opinion of Kurti’s move.
One of the most vigorous out of all Pristina media in reporting on this topic yesterday was Gazeta Express portal, which published an article titled: „Who was Ivanovic, Kurti’s favorite Serb?“ While noting that Serbian forces killed 31 people in Mitrovica in 1999, this media outlet shared the allegations of those who accuse Oliver Ivanovic of ordering the killings.
Below, we publish parts of Pristina media reports on this topic.
The victim who testified against Ivanovic is also turning against Kurti
Source: Klan Kosova
The Prime Minister’s words about the Serbian politician (cf. Oliver Ivanovic) cut Isa Mustafa deeply, a survivor of the April 1999 massacre in which 31 Albanians were killed.
According to Mustafa, the killing of these civilians was carried out on Ivanovic’s orders, who, he says, was behind the plan for this massacre.
Ivanovic’s actions, which Mustafa claims to have witnessed with his own eyes, he also mentioned when he testified before the jury made up of EULEX judges who found the Serbian politician guilty of war crimes in 2016.
In the courtroom, Ivanovic was given the epithet of a criminal by Flora Peci, whose brother was killed by Serb forces.
„I curse my hand for voting for you“
The sister of Ivanovic’s victim, Flora Idrizi Peci, strongly reacted to the words of Prime Minister Albin Kurti, after the commemoration of Oliver Ivanovic on the fifth anniversary of his death.
Flora Idrizi Peci said that Oliver Ivanovic killed her brother.
Then she said that Kurti reopened the wounds of Albanians with his video on Ivanovic.
Among other things, Idrizi-Peci wrote that she was cursing her hand for voting for Kurti.
„I curse my hand and my mind for voting, I am the sister of a murdered man,“ she stated.
On T7, alleged witnesses to the crime in Mitrovica
Source: Gazeta Express
Tefik Sejdiu, a witness and family member of the Mitrovica massacre victims, could not hold back tears while talking about how Oliver Ivanovic took his family members to kill them.
„We were selling cigars at a stall in front of the building, he came and bought cigars. Yes, we saw him. He had a hat on… then he put a mask hiding his whole face. I saw him taking my family members. First, he called my cousin over with his finger, he left, after a minute he called my uncle…“
Flora Peci, a witness and family member of the victims of the massacre in Mitrovica, said that she was shocked that a criminal like Ivanovic was placed on a pedestal by Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
„First of all, I was surprised how the prime minister placed a criminal who committed the crimes in Mitrovica on a pedestal. I do not belong to any political party, I am Albanian, and I belong to the nation. What I heard, I felt the pain, the pain of 30 families in that area, where Ivanovic ordered them to be slaughtered and massacred. He killed all the brothers,“ she said.
The opposition to Kurti’s video about Ivanovic – shocking and shameful
Source: Klan Kosova
Albin Kurti, with the epithets he gave the Serbian politician on the 5th anniversary of his murder, lost face in the eyes of opposition leaders.
They immediately reacted fretfully to the praise that the head of government gave to the former president of the Civic Initiative, in the Serbian language.
PDK stated that Kurti praised Ivanovic, while for LDK, the head of government is trying to win the hearts of Serbs with this „shameful“ gesture.
The change in Kurti’s statements as an opposition member and now as prime minister seems offensive to AAK, so this party described the published video as shocking.
Berisha: Kurti’s praise of Ivanovic calls into question his mission
Source: Klan Kosova
The former deputy minister of the interior, Zafir Berisha, said that the weaving of praises for Ivanovic creates a dilemma when it comes to the mission of Prime Minister Kurti.
„Oliver Ivanovic was the main criminal who operated in Mitrovica during the war and is responsible for the death of around 50 Albanians, injuries of dozens and the exile of more than 11 thousand citizens of the northern part of Kosovo… Because we already have a court decision for Ivanovic’s crimes, although none of us were satisfied because the sentence was low for the great crimes he committed,“ said Berisha in the „Special Edition“, Klankosova.tv reported.
Halit Berani calls Ivanovic the chief criminal, says that he is responsible for the shootings and deportations of Albanians
Source: Gazeta Express
The president of CPHRF for the Mitrovica region, Halit Barani, spoke about the actions of Oliver Ivanovic in this town. He described Ivanovic as the chief criminal and said that he was responsible for the shooting and deportation of Albanians.
In a longer Facebook post, Barani says that „a group of Serb criminals led by the chief criminal Oliver Ivanovic, Igor Simic and Srdjan Aleksic gathered around 100 Albanian men, mostly young, and shot 31 of them.“
He says that one of the witnesses named Isa Mustafa, who was freed (saved from being shot) by Oliver Ivanovic himself, together with three of his friends, gave a written statement immediately after the war.
Blakaj: The PM should not praise a person convicted of war crimes
Source: Gazeta Express
Bekim Blakaj from the Humanitarian Law Center said that the Prime Minister of Kosovo should not praise those convicted of war crimes. Blakaj said on the Pressing show that Kurti’s statement was unfortunate.
„It is really unfortunate, unacceptable, not only for the family members, but also for us as a civil society, I believe for the entire society – that the prime minister of the country praises someone who was convicted of war crimes in the first instance and sent back for a retrial,“ he said.
Blakaj stated that this principle applies not only in the case of Ivanovic, but also to everyone who has been part of war crimes proceedings.
„I’m displeased with this statement,“ Blakaj said.
Sociologist: Kurti’s glorification of Ivanovic is a moral, national and historical crime
Source: Gazeta Express
Sociologist Jusuf Thaci stated that even if the slain Serbian politician Oliver Ivanovic had not been convicted of war crimes, his glorification by Prime Minister Albin Kurti would still be inappropriate.
„Even if Oliver Ivanovic was not accused and convicted (in the first instance) of murders and crimes against Albanians, the Prime Minister of Kosovo should have no reason to remember and glorify a person like him, because he did nothing good for Kosovo or its citizens,“ Thaci wrote on Facebook.
He says Ivanovic’s sentence, which Thaci is certain would be upheld, makes the prime minister’s remembrance of him a „crime.“
„Well, Oliver Ivanovic was suspected and convicted (in the first instance) of murders and crimes against Albanians in Kosovo (he would certainly be punished in the event of a repeated trial and at all court levels because there are many pieces of evidence and witnesses against him), hence the memory and glorification by the Prime Minister of Kosovo is a moral, national and historical crime,“ Thaci wrote.
Analysts: Kurti’s statement is a political tactic
Analysts and politicians told RTV Dukagjini that Kurti’s statement was a political tactic, but that, according to them, it has consequences for Kurti’s image.
Former Deputy Minister for Communities and Return in the Kosovo government, Milazim Gashi, says this statement was a tactic of the Prime Minister towards the Serbian community.
„However, with these statements, Kurti is creating fog in his electorate, considering the role of the main bandit like Oliver Ivanovic in Mitrovica,“ said Gashi.
The former deputy prime minister, Dardan Gashi, says that Kurti’s statement did not win him new votes.
„Oliver Ivanovic is among the most responsible for the partition of Mitrovica. He is one of the creators of the situation we have in Mitrovica today. He participated in the crimes and Kurti’s statement is unsubstantiated. I understand that Kurti is waging a war with Vucic from afar, but I don’t believe that he won any votes with this statement,“ said Dardan Gashi.
On the other hand, PSD Vice-President Nol Nushi said that Oliver Ivanovic carried out ethnic cleansing in Mitrovica.
„There was a consensus about the character of Ivanovic in Kosovo that he was a war crimes participant, a post-war crimes participant as the leader of the ‘Guardians of the Bridge’ and in charge of ethnic cleansing and demographic changes in that area. He was the secretary in the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo. I don’t know if he played any positive role in Kosovo. Perhaps he is the only figure respected by both Kurti and Vucic. Both of them are leaders who are instrumentalizing debates about corpses for political interests,“ said Nol Nushi.
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