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


Speaking today in Zubin Potok, Dragutin Nenezic, a lawyer representing families whose land was expropriated by Kosovo authorities, said that: „If you care about the rule of law, then these facilities should be demolished. The people on whose land they were built should be compensated, not for expropriation but rather for the usurpation of their land during that period, or occupation, whatever you want to call it, and this procedure should be suspended.“

A public discussion was held in Zubin Potok today on the expropriation of land in the villages of that municipality. This was the second public discussion organized over the past week in the north, the first having been held in Leposavic.

Over the past several months, over 138 hectares of land has been expropriated in the north, a move that was met with a protest from locals residents, who complain that they were not informed about it. They furthermore pointed to the absence of public discussion on the issue, noting that special police bases are currently under construction on the land in question. Locals also warned that „militarization and occupation“ are being carried out in the north, with the aim of „tearing it apart.“

The two discussions were scheduled only after the European Union reacted, calling on Pristina to respect all legal procedures, particularly when it comes to property rights.

In addition to Kosovo Serbs (mainly comprised of local residents, lawyers, legal representatives, representatives of the local government, and political and civil activists), the Pristina government was represented at the discussion by the director of the Expropriation Department, Afrim Murati, Samir Brucia from the same department, as well as Dorontina Demaj – a geodesy expert.

„Mr. Murati, I’ve become very fond of you in this short time, but I’m still much fonder of the truth,“ said Dragutin Nenezic, who represented Svetomir Aksentijevic from the cadastral municipality of Brnjak in Zubin Potok.

While pointing out that the people of the Kolasin area are well-acquainted with the meaning of the word ‘expropriation’, considering the construction of Gazivode, Nenezic argued that thousands of its residents accepted the decision of the then-socialist state in the 1970s with a heavy heart and abandoned their properties, noting that they did so because the public interest of this decision was well-recognized at the time.

„That dam and lake still exist and serve people today. What is happening today, however, is the complete opposite of that. First, we have to note that this discussion is completely pointless,“ he added.

You’ve already done something and only now, as colleagues have already pointed out, are conducting a discussion to produce some semblance of legality. Everything that was built without an expropriation procedure carried out in accordance with the law presents an illegal construction and no public discussion can subsequently legitimize it

Nenezic listed two decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, pointing out similarities with the way in which expropriation is carried out in the north.

„I would like to draw attention to two decisions. One is the decision of Sarik Idil against Turkey, which concerns precisely the illegal construction by the security authorities. The second is the decision – Papamihalopoulos v. Greece, which is even more interesting. It is also about the illegal construction carried out by security authorities that started during the military dictatorship in Greece,“ he said.

He underlined that the Greek case bears strong similarities with the issue of expropriation in the north: „Not only in the terms of the lawlessness of these actions, but also in the character of the regime that implements it,“ he added.

„Let’s talk openly, what is happening here today and what happened a few months ago in the territory of the Zubin Potok municipality – it is an example of a mono-ethnic police dictatorship for which there is no law, for which there is only national interest and the law is applied exclusively in the function of that public interest and as an illusion or a facade, and what is behind that facade, you refuse to reveal.“

While pointing out what happened during the previous discussion in Leposavic, Nenezic remarked that a „(un)intentional mistake“ might have been made during the translation which would explain why, at one point, instead of „public,” the term „national interest“ was used:

„I think it’s a very good term. There is a national interest here, but it is not the interest of the nation whose representatives are sitting here today. It is the interest of another nation“.

„I come back to the rule of law. If you care about the rule of law, these facilities should be demolished. se facilities should be demolished. The people on whose land they were built should be compensated, not for expropriation but rather for the usurpation of their land during that period, or occupation, whatever you want to call it, and this procedure should be suspended.“

Nenezic also emphasized that he is well aware that Kosovo and the Kosovo authorities look up to the US, adding that „something like this could not happen in the United States of America.“

„And since we’re talking about the US, I’d like to paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, who tried to end a major conflict by saying: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! If you want to end a conflict, you’re not going to end it by building bases, you’re not going to end it by misleading people. You’ll end it by, for starters, telling them what it’s all about, and then by putting a stop to it. So, to paraphrase President Reagan, if I can address the Prime Minister in Pristina in that capacity: Mr. Kurti, tear down this base, and then we’ll talk,“ concluded Nenezic.

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.

Questions from locals, civil representatives, and lawyers as to „what is being built“ remained unanswered. The representatives of the Expropriation Department from Pristina kept reiterating the messages on „road construction,“ laying „optical cables,“ „economic development,“ „increasing security,“ and the „welfare of the citizens themselves and children.“ To the claims that expropriation holds no public interest, the Director of the Expropriation Department said that if there was no public interest, they would not be at the discussion today.

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:

Andric Rakic: The meeting failed to fulfill legal requirements, what will be built on the expropriated land was not revealed

Residents of Z.Potok: What if someone came to you in Pristina, to your property, and then turned up to negotiate over that same property?

Mitrovic: You’re abusing your position, the people simply do not want bases

Pantovic: If you want to talk about increasing security, invest in the run-down police station in ZP – not in new barracks

Mijacic: We want to be an international tourist destination, only to be chased away by special forces as if we were terrorists.

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