Mijacic: We wanted to map-out an internationally-renowned tourist site, only to be chased away by special forces as if we were terrorists

Dragiša Mijačić

During today’s public discussion in Zubin Potok with Kosovo government representatives, Dragisa Mijacic, the Executive Director of IntER, asked: „After this meeting, I’m going to the international tourism fair. I wonder, should I promote active tourism or Kurti’s war adventurism when I’m there?“

Mijacic, a native of this municipality and the head of an organization that deals with the active promotion of tourism in Ibarski Kolasin, criticized the representatives of the Department for Expropriation from Pristina, for coming „unprepared“ to the discussions they organized in the north.

The discussions were scheduled after more than 138 ha of land had already been expropriated in the past half year for „infrastructural projects of public importance“ – according to the brief official announcements of the government. On the ground, however, it is apparent that the construction of special police bases on these plots is underway, which the locals believe will have a military purpose.

„Our trail passes by the base you built in Jasenovik. In the fall, when we went to mark the trails, the special forces chased us away like we were terrorists. We are talking about an international tourist trail,“ Mijacic stressed today.

„Mr. Murati, I have the impression that you don’t actually know where you are,“ he added.

„You are talking about economic development. What are the goals of the economic development of the municipality of Zubin Potok?” Mijacic asked the director of the Expropriation Department, Afrim Murati, before answering the question himself: „It’s tourist development.“

He criticized Murati for coming unprepared to the public discussion and for not being aware that there are many important tourist sites in this municipality, highlighting three of them.

„Via ferrata Berim, categorized as one of the best and biggest of its kind in the world. Let me repeat, the best and biggest in the world, not in Kosovo, not in Zubin Potok, not in the Balkans – in the world! Here it is!“ – Mijacic said and displayed a large billboard of a photo showing the destination popular among enthusiasts of extreme alpinism.

He also presented a text from a famous media outlet about nature and tourism „Lonely Planet“ on the ferrata.

It is not Dragisa Mijacic saying that it is the best in the world, but rather international experts.

He then singled out Lake Gazivode as another popular tourist destination, noting the many investments in lake tourism by the private sector.

„The third tourist product – here it is – the international hiking trail from Zubin Potok to Rugovska Klisura and on to Slovenia – Via Dinarida!“ Mijacic said, while also displaying tourist hiking maps.

„Our trail passes by the base you built in Jasenovik. In the fall, when we went to mark the trails, the special forces chased us away like we were terrorists. We are talking about the international tourist trail. And what would have happened if we had tourists with us that day? Would they ever return to Zubin Potok, and to Kosovo, and to the Balkans in general?!“

He pointed to the tourist promotion of the area and showed several international tourist guides which feature Zubin Potok as one of the key tourist destinations in the Balkans. „Mokra Gora and Lake Gazivode – one of the top 10 hidden destinations in the Balkans,“ he read out loud from the guides.

That’s why I ask, what is the public interest in the militarization of the municipality of Zubin Potok

Last year, the entire season was put to a halt while the base was being built, he said, emphasizing that: „We couldn’t have tourists around when people bearing machine guns with their fingers on the trigger were running around. The question is whether we will open the season this year.“

„After this meeting, I’m going to the international tourism fair. I wonder, should I promote active tourism or Kurti’s war adventurism at that fair?! Are we talking about economic interest?! What good is this militarization in a tourist municipality if we are talking about economic development?!“

Finally, he reminded that the Kosovo government has applied for admission to the Council of Europe, noting that this very body functions on the principle of protection according to two conventions:

The European Charter on the Protection of Human Rights and the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

„What you are doing here is directly contrary to both conventions. Believe me when I say that as much as we fought for the development of tourism, we will fight just as hard not to destroy tourism in Zubin Potok, and in this way, we will inform all the countries of the Council of Europe, the Quint countries and all international partners, including the EU, who have invested in tourism. Because, if it is in the public interest of Kosovo, it cannot be militarization and economic development! It’s up to you to decide!“ Mijacic, who is also the coordinator of the Working Group in Belgrade for Serbia’s negotiations with the EU, concluded.

Representatives of the Expropriation Department, on the other hand, rebuffed all of today’s objections and accusations. They referred to the Law on Expropriation, which they read out loud at the very beginning of the discussion.

The director of the Department also said that he visited parts of Leposavic and Zubin Potok, after which he deduced that there is a lack of economic development, as well as necessary road infrastructure.

When the representatives of the government stated that roads would be built to connect Zubin Potok with the villages in the municipality, the lawyers pointed out that this is not in line with the law, because the government is not the one responsible for local roads within a municipality, but the municipality itself. On the other hand, representatives of the Kosovo government said that they received requests for the construction of road infrastructure from both the residents of Leposavic and Zubin Potok.

As far as economic development is concerned, today’s guests from Pristina only revealed that projects are in development, without specifying which ones, but in order to implement them, security levels must be increased.

Read more:

Nenezic: To paraphrase Reagan’s words to Gorbachev – Mr. Kurti, tear down this base, and then we’ll talk

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