Svecla: Rule of law and separating criminals from ordinary people will help to solve the crisis

I am not against the Serb people, Xhelal Svecla said in an interview with KoSSev. The Kosovo Interior Minister says that he is against the „chauvinist projects of Serbia“ and criminals. Criminals have no ethnicity but are a mixed group. They are the ones who want to portray their activities in nationalist colors,“ he claims.

„You have the biggest criminals who are also the biggest patriots. We need to put a stop to this. We need the attention of ordinary citizens, attention for a normal life, in order to support such categories and fight against these other categories,“ the Kosovo Interior Minister underlined in an exclusive interview for KoSSev.

He stated that he disagrees with the fact that he might be the most hated Kosovo official in the north. On the contrary, he claims that he is constantly in contact with Serb citizens, NGOs, and officials at different levels, noting that these meetings are not public.

Recalling that ethnic Albanians were repressed in the 1990s, he alleged that this is now happening to Serbs in the north, however, but not at the hand of special units whose presence local Serbs have been complaining about for months, but rather at the hand of „criminals and the regime in Belgrade“.

„The presence of the police in certain areas is a guarantee that the rule of law prevails,“ he underlined.

He disagreed with the testimonies of local Serbs from the north who say that the very presence of special units disturbs them and makes them feel unsafe, noting that the police are deployed there „to serve and protect.“

To protect them, he added, from “the executed plan to divide societies.”

“In constant times, we’ve had attacks in these areas of ordinary citizens. People would walk in that street and you would see someone approaching and beating just because they are not from there or because they were not Serbs.”

When asked about whether the presence of special units has deepened the gap between the Serbian and Albanian citizens, he maintained that they are „working to bring the communities closer.“

He reminded that the Kosovo Police itself decides which unit to activate for which case, depending on the level of risk an action poses.

Although he claims that he does not know how many regular police officers and special units are currently stationed in the four northern municipalities, noting that often even he „doesn’t know how to distinguish special units from regular ones“, he regularly visits special forces in the North.

In the photos he posts on Facebook, he is seen happily posing with police officers in Jarinje, Brnjak, or one of the other checkpoints or bases.

He often publishes other kinds of photographs as well – pictures of the arrested, whom he immediately labels as „criminals,“ while also revealing their full names. He, however, disagrees that he is the first to reveal this information, even before the police.

He argued that it is propaganda, which reportedly comes from Belgrade.

„I do not use propaganda or misinform the public, and it is a matter of preventing someone from the other side from misinforming the public.“

Addressing the claim that he is violating the presumption of innocence, the Kosovo Minister of the Interior responded:

„My intentions are to clear up any ambiguity, misinformation because of this huge cacophony you have in so many media outlets. My intention is for the information to be as accurate as possible, as fast as possible, in order to prevent any abuse of the situation.“

He also confirmed that the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo is conducting an investigation in connection with three cases in which it is suspected that police officers abused their authority, in the case of the shooting on the Bistrica Bridge in April – when M.J was wounded, in connection with the event of June 17 in Zitkovac when the police pulled over a young man and a girl driving a quad bike, as well as in connection with the footage recorded in the station in South Mitrovica showing a man with a black bag over his head, speculated to be ethnic Serb N.O., who was arrested on that same day.

He does not agree with the statements of the Serbian liaison officer in Pristina who reported that the KP used ethnic slurs and assaulted four of the five Serbs arrested during the current crisis in the North, saying that the Police Inspectorate of Kosovo is also working on verifying these allegations.

„I think that working strictly on applying the rule of law and separating criminals from ordinary people contributes to solving the crisis,“ said Svecla.

During the entire interview, Svecla spoke about the rule of law, respect for institutions, and the fight against the „fascist militia“.

He interprets this term, which he began using along with the Kosovo Prime Minister a little over a month ago, as applying to „violent extremist groups that attack anyone who disagrees with them politically, causing harm to citizens.“

In his words, this is still considerably different from what Self-Determination, and Svecla personally, has been doing for years.

Svecla stuck to this conviction even when spoke of the time when tear gas was thrown in the assembly, interrupting sessions. On top of this, molotov cocktails were thrown at government and police buildings, stones were thrown at international and Kosovo police, trucks, police jeeps, and EULEX vehicles were overturned…

„There is a significant difference between intentionally organizing violent resistance and showing resistance,“ says Svecla.

On the remark that none of that was in accordance with the law and that it was violence with publicly proclaimed political beliefs, Svecla says:

„But it is absolutely in line with most people’s belief. We have never attacked people in our activities. We have never attacked private property.“

Not even a reminder of the court proceedings led against the members of Self-Determination, including the indictment related to hooliganism and violence against him, which expired in July, and the allegations that even the judge had to separate the case due to the defendants refusing to appear in court, Svecla claims that he respected the court, he paid some of his obligations, noting that he is a public figure – who also has his own beliefs.

„I am very direct. The truth is the truth. A lie is a lie. A violation is a violation. We are not running away from that,“ he said.

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