The issue of the missing has been a stumbling block in Belgrade-Pristina relations for years. Statistics on missing persons are often exploited for political purposes – as numerous NGOs have repeatedly pointed out, while tensions regarding this issue ran rampant in the Kosovo Assembly today culminating in a heated argument between Self-Determination (LVV) and LDK MPs.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti responded in the Assembly today to Self-Determination’s interpellation request. There were two interpellations on the agenda – the first on why Lake Gazivode is part of the agreement in Washington, and the second on the topic of missing persons as part of the dialogue with Belgrade.
The session, which began at 10 a.m., was marked with verbal clashes between LVV deputies and representatives of the Kosovo government. Around 3 p.m., the chairwoman called for a recess after the verbal conflict escalated and members of the two parliamentary groups started jostling each other.
The conflict occurred while the LVV MP and the initiator of the interpellation, Saranda Bogujevci was addressing the assembly.
Bogujevci: There will be no negotiations until Serbia discovers the whereabouts of the missing
LVV MP Saranda Bogujevci accused the Kosovo government of not treating the issue of missing persons in Washington properly. Bogujevci stressed that the government should reveal what was agreed, as well as what was the ultimate goal of the agreement.
This LVV MP, however, criticized the fact that, in her words, the issue of missing and displaced persons was equated in the agreement.
„In the same paragraph where the topic of missing persons is treated so badly, the issue of displaced persons and refugees is raised, and they are treated as internally displaced, thus equating two categories that cannot be equated. This way of dealing with the missing greatly damages the process and this is not the way to lead a dialogue. Kosovo has an advantage because, unlike Serbia, it treats the issue of the missing with dignity and consistency, and it is shameful and unacceptable to equate it with Serbia in the dialogue,“ said Bogujevci.
The displaced are „potential criminals“
Bogujevci’s party colleague, Arberije Nagavci presented similar accusations against the „equalization“ of the issue of the missing and displaced, saying that „victims and potential criminals“ are thus equated.
Bogujevci also proposed a resolution.
„The Assembly of Kosovo emphasizes that the issue of the missing cannot be linked, conditioned, or be interdependent on any other issue. The Government of Kosovo must insist on resolving the issue of missing persons as per international standards and mechanisms. The Assembly calls on the government not to negotiate with any official from Serbia until they find out the whereabouts of all persons listed as missing during the last war,“ read the points of the resolution Bogujevci proposed, Pristina-based Koha reported.
Kosovo MPs did not vote on the resolution because there was no quorum.
The Kosovo Assembly’s heated debate on the issue of the missing arrives just two days after a mass grave was discovered at the Kizevik site near Raska, suspected to contain the remains of persons from Kosovo.
Hoti: The Washington agreement accelerated the search for the missing, the issue of the missing should not be politicized
Responding to Bogujevci’s accusations, the Kosovo Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti said that the issue of missing and displaced persons were not conditioned in any way. Hoti credited the discovery of the mass grave in Raska to the Washington agreement, alleging that it “fast-tracked” the process of finding the missing, Koha writes.
„The agreement as a whole has international guarantees for resolving the issue of missing and displaced persons. I believe that the issue of the missing should not be politicized. Following an agreement like the one reached in Washington, we expect the resolution of the issue of the missing to be fast-tracked. As you have recently witnesses, the process of finding the remains has gained momentum,” Hoti said, adding:
“Excavations to find the remains are currently underway in Kosovo and Serbia. The excavations are being carried out in Mitrovica, Suvo Grlo, while the excavations in Kizevak in Raska, Stavalj, and at other locations in Serbia continue. In Kosovo, by the end of this year, as long as the weather permits it, excavations are planned at 5 locations.“
The KoSSev portal spoke to the presidents of the Missing Persons Commission of both sides – Veljko Odalovic and Kushtrim Gara about the search for the missing in central Serbia as well as in Kosovo. Read more:
Gashi: The issue of the missing is being politicized, it is disgraceful
The head of the LDK parliamentary group, Arben Gashi also accused the LVV of politicizing the issue of the missing.
„This is an extremely sensitive topic and its politicization is just another step towards the common disgrace that we are using such a painful national issue for daily political interests. It is a great disgrace to use missing persons and their fate, the pain of families, and Kosovo society for political interests, all the while using arguments that do not exist. Missing persons are treated here from the wrong point of view. There is only one culprit for the missing persons, and that is the state of Serbia, not the Milosevic regime, but the state of Serbia, because those murders, those disappearances, were committed by the state of Serbia,“ he said, Koha reports.
Representatives of the LDK also responded to the criticism presented by PDK MPs.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Driton Selmanaj, the LDK did more for the issue of missing persons in 5 months, than the PDK did during 10 years of negotiations, Koha writes.
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