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?

FOTO: KoSSev

More than 138 hectares of land were expropriated in the last six months in Leposavic and Zubin Potok. The Kosovo government justified its decisions in one brief announcement: The expropriations were carried out due to „infrastructural projects of public importance.“ The decision was met by protests from residents, who expressed their dissatisfaction and concern. It was only after the EU reacted, objecting to the procedure, that the Kosovo authorities decided to schedule two public discussions on the issue – one was held in Leposavic last week and the other today in Zubin Potok.

The locals once again shared their dissatisfaction over this decision with the Kosovo government representatives today. They stressed that they were never notified that their land would be expropriated.

Even after the second discussion ended, however, 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“ and „increasing security“, and the “well-being of the citizens and children.”

Citizens say that such answers leave them feeling offended and humiliated – for the second time. This is further exacerbated, they added, by an armed police presence.

In addition, as farmers they argue that because their land was expropriated, they are no longer able to support their families. Their woods and land have been covered by asphalt, jeeps „driving around in the hills“ and machinery.

Miroslav Djukic, one of the locals affected by the decision on expropriation from Gornji Jasenovic, addressed the representatives of Pristina on behalf of localresidents:

FOTO: KoSSev

A one-kilometer-long asphalt road has been built right through his property, Djukic said, sarcastically declaring that he knows nothing about police bases.

„Only now are bases being mentioned. We didn’t receive any report at all, or any paper for that,“ this resident pointed out.

The road that is paved now passes by the cemetery, where there was never a road, he added.

„If we wanted to bury someone now, we would have to carry them 50 meters over junk and rocks, in order to reach the cemetery that has been there for years,“ says Djukic, noting that he believes there was no need to build a road there.

He added that there was no reason to pave that road – there is no gold factory, no lithium, no investments – in other words, it is not in anyone’s interest.

„It is our own country estate. We are farmers and we live from those estates – fields, meadows, fruit trees, plums, apples, forests. Now, I must buy firewood, even though I had my forest for 20, 30, 50 years,“ he pointed out.

According to his testimony, during the road construction, canals were also built, and as a result, during large storms and heavy rainfall, water overflows from the asphalt and spills into the land that has not been confiscated, thus destroying fertile soil.

This resident demanded that a committee be dispatched to inspect everything on the ground.

He asked the Pristina representatives: How would you feel if someone came to your house and paved the path for you, without asking? If someone destroyed all the fields that support your family? Something that someone has been creating for centuries.

A resident of the village of Banje in Zubin Potok, Nebojsa Pantelic, whose family home is located next to the road and 150 meters from the Brnjak crossing, asked the representatives of the Pristina government:

FOTO: KoSSev

„What kind of factory is being built there, next to the crossing itself? Consider the fact that 15 hectares were occupied.”

He alleged that half the hill near his home was dug up without permission, noting that he visited the site while the works were being carried out.

„I was welcomed with guns and was told to go the municipality and that they would know what it was about. It’s as if they made a deal with the municipality,“ testifies this resident, adding that he didn’t get an answer there either.

He even asked them point blank: Who gave the permission and said that our property can be excavated?

„You can dig and do what you want, but you can’t drive us out of here. I won’t allow it. There is no money in the world. And it doesn’t matter at all who belongs to which ethnicity. I live here.”

This local also repeatedly asked – what is being built?

Milija Spasojevic, a well-known postman from North Mitrovica and a native of VeljiBreg, spoke briefly at the debate.

FOTO: KoSSev

He revealed that he is deeply concerned over the news that a police base will be built in his village and next to his family home.

„We are talking about property that was acquired with great difficulty in those mountain hills,“ he points out.

Mirjana Vucetic from Zubodolina says that she is worried about her children, as jeeps carrying police members pass by their house every day.

FOTO: KoSSev

Reminding the Pristina officials that they claimed that everything was done for the benefit of the children in Zubin Potok, Vucetic stated that she, as a mother and a woman, feels humiliated“over the fact that I have no freedom to take a walk down the street after 5 p.m. Over our children not being allowed to go out into nature. That they wait for us with firearms wherever we pass,“ she points out.

Is this what you mean when you say that it was done for the benefit of our children? – Vucetic asked the Pristina representatives.

„To build a base for us, to wait for us with firearms and you claim that it is for the benefit of our children? Don’t insult my intelligence,“ she stressed.

„What would happen if someone came to you in Pristina, to your property, and after a year came to you and asked you to negotiate over that same property?“

The people are only asking that „what belongs to them, what they inherited and what they want to leave to their children, be left alone.“

„We won’t allow you to build bases, we don’t want firearms pointed at our children.“

The owner of five plots of land seized by the Kosovo government also spoke at the discussion where he announced that in September, he reached out to the Kosovo Ministry of Infrastructure with a request to suspend the construction of access roads that pass through his plots.

FOTO: KoSSev

He noted that the answer he received, which was in the Albanian language, only asked him for proof of ownership and an ID.

Why are you humiliating the people for the second time? – he asked the representatives of the Kosovo government today.

„The first time you entered the plots illegally, and today you are calling us to a public discussion as if you want to build something. Well, we are not that illiterate. Why are you doing that?“

The public discussion is „just a way to undervalue all the inhabitants of Zubin Potok,“ he said.

He added that they have nothing to say to the participants of today’s discussion, but will say what they have do say in court.

„You know that you cannot enter someone else’s property until the decisions on expropriation become final,“ he pointed out.

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:

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

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

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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