Stojanovic: I ran for the people in Gracanica, I remained silent due to unity, but they will not survive if the old policy continues

FOTO: KoSSev

My candidacy is not part of the charade to create artificial competition for Srpska Lista. I never played politics, instead, I fought for the interests of the people, just as I am doing now – a candidate for the mayor of Gracanica, Branimir Stojanovic, said in an interview with KoSSev.

Although a high-ranking official in both systems, Stojanovic also revealed that he only spoke to the people before deciding to once again – eight years after his previous campaign – run for the mayor of Gracanica. 

Stojanovic also spoke about the judge of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, Radomir Laban, who he surprisingly described as ‘gray eminence of the life and death of Serbs’ in this area. Had the arrest warrant issued against Laban by Serbia not been made public in 2017, and the oath he took before Hashim Thaci in August 2018, the public would hardly know anything about this Kosovo judge – until yesterday.

Why did you decide to suddenly decide to connect Radomir Laban with the elections?

Because it’s an open secret. Everyone in Gracanica knows this and it is something that has been going on for some time and something that is getting us into deeper and deeper trouble.

What is at hand? What is he doing?

The last thing he did, this woman (cf. Srpska Lista candidate for the mayor of Gracanica, Ljiljana Subaric) became a candidate at his initiative. He makes decisions regarding the staff. He appoints directors to various posts, spending time with people who are very politically active. One can often hear that people are even threatened.

How did he acquire so much power?

I will reveal some things presently, and I will reveal something else later on. I won’t present my arguments right now, but all the people in Gracanica know quite well what I am talking about. This is not something that is just coming from me and it is not my personal initiative, it is something that everyone is aware of and something that everyone is putting up with…

But the public is not aware of this. What are the people in Gracanica aware of?

The fact that he is very politically active. That he is someone who has a group of people who exercise power via different positions. As I said, I won’t speak in detail about this now, but I will do so later on. He appointed some people as school principals. The heads of the municipalities and directors in many public functions, who were appointed directly by his order, are part of his political group – which I cannot precisely define. However, what is clear is that all these decisions on the staff are causing us serious damage, both because of the profile of the people appointed, and because of what they are doing while they hold these posts.

At a press conference held in Gracanica yesterday, for the third time in the row, Srpska Lista accused Stojanovic of “wishing harm“ to the Serb people, attempting to divide them, and of drawing a target on Radomir Laban. Stojanovic says he has no intention of reacting after yesterday’s conference:

„I already said what I had to say and I will not comment because I’ll leave the most important things for the campaign.“

 

An anti-campaign has been launched – which targets you, speaking in a verbal sense. The head of the Serbian sponsored Kosovo Office presented accusations against you after your recent media address, when you criticized Radomir Laban, among other things. On the other hand, Serbia has issued a warrant against Laban in 2017. How do you explain this?

I’m not the person you should be asking these questions. You should ask them. I already shared my opinion about that man and his political activities. One of the main reasons why I chose not to stay at home and keep quiet about this is the fact that this man is very politically active, which he should not be – according to his job description. His profile and background are generally known to everyone – how dark and bad it is.

„The fact that a man with such a past is the one making decisions in political life on a daily basis is catastrophic for this nation. People will no longer put up with this and that is why they insisted and urged me to run.“

Why were you silent about this issue for three years, although you held a post even before that, as well as during these three years? How do you explain the fact that you are speaking out now – ahead of the elections, although you never mentioned Laban during all this time?

For years, I spoke to people within the SL, trying to persuade them to change this relationship, and for years, I have been fighting for this change within SL. Because of this, I was often sidelined, I often faced consequences, but of course, I never wanted to go public with this. In order to avoid endangering the vital interests of the people here. These people will not survive here if such policy is fully realized, but I believe it will not happen and that people will have their say.

Personally, I never put myself in the foreground. Now, at this moment, when the candidates are being decided, I proposed other candidates – credible, honest, normal people, who, for some strange reason, probably because they were not proposed by Laban, were not accepted – instead, the proposal that everyone here knows came from him has been accepted.

Does the fact that, for years now, a judge of the Constitutional Court is someone who has a warrant issued against him endangers vital interests? If what you are saying is true, does that mean that the vital interests of Serbs in Kosovo have been jeopardized for years now?

It’s about something else. His involvement in the Constitutional Court could have gone one way or another, but that was also not my decision, nor was I in charge of it. Someone else made the decision about it. But now that man wants to be a gray eminence of life and the death of Serbs in this area, and that would be catastrophic and devastating for the people. I did not keep quiet because of myself, I was silent because of some common general interest and all the people who could possibly face consequences if I spoke out. And now that I have spoken out, I did so alone and I don’t want anyone to be targeted in any way because of that, so let’s see what the people will say in the elections – whether I am telling the truth or not.

When you spoke and alerted of this within the SL, what was their response?

I received only a few rational and concrete answers, but there was one prevailing attitude – that it doesn’t matter who will be, say, a candidate for mayor, that they can appoint anyone they want and that it doesn’t matter at all and that the people will have to vote.

What is problematic about the candidate for mayor of Gracanica, since the only thing we know about her is that she is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine?

I can’t comment on her because she is more or less unknown to people. She obviously spent most of her time outside the place she got married in – Donja Gusterica (cf. a village in the municipality of Gracanica). People there know relatively little about her, except that she is a professor and a doctor. They know nothing more. She’s just someone people don’t know. She was pulled right out of the hat because that is what someone wanted. It is clear that, although it is not my intention to belittle her role in all this, she will not be the decision-maker.

For years, new cadres appointed within SL were politically anonymous people, has that not been the case? This would not be the first time.

I don’t know how it went on in all other places, but as far as Gracanica is concerned, it wasn’t exactly like that. We can talk about the credibility of each person individually, but what people here assess and what they have asked me to do is to oppose such a policy.

When one looks at your entire biography, it becomes clear that you have been state staff to the core all the time. Is this your independent decision – a „solo play“, or do you have the support of the Serbian government, or part of the Serbian government, or part of Serbian structures?

What I can tell you now is that I only have the support of the people here. Of course, we will all express our views individually.

Did you have any contact with a part of the state authority before your candidacy?

That is all I can tell you for now. We will leave some things for later.

Let me rephrase: What would you say to those who see your candidacy as part of a charade to create artificial competition for SL?

That is out of the question. I’m not a trial balloon or anything, I ran because people asked me to and there’s no play at hand. In the years I have been involved in politics, I have never played politics, instead, I fought for the interests of the people, and the majority of people will surely agree on that. And that is what I am doing now. No one has the right to play with people’s lives, and I am not doing that and other people can do what they want…

So, your candidacy was not made in coordination with state structures?

I only spoke to the people and that motivated me.

Thank you for talking to KoSSev.

Interview conducted by Tatjana Lazarevic

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