Vlajic: This is not expropriation, nor compliance with the law, but thievery and oppression

FOTO: KoSSev

„What we are talking about today is not expropriation. This is thievery. It is expropriation when the law and procedure are respected, and when the law is not respected, it is tyranny,“ Nebojsa Vlajic, one of the most prominent lawyers in the north, said today. Vlajic is representing the residents of Leposavic and Zubin Potok affected by the process of expropriation carried out by the Kosovo government.

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 “infrastructure projects of public importance.”

The decision was met by protests from local 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.

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.

They also cited the Law on Expropriation, which they read out loud at the beginning of the discussion, only to be criticized by lawyers and residents for not respecting it in practice.

Locals are demanding that their properties be released from expropriation, underlining that they do not want special forces bases near their homes. Furthermore, they view claims that everything was done for the benefit of them and their children, as insulting and degrading.

In the last year, at least two special police bases were constructed in Zubin Potok. Local authorities and official Belgrade reacted only after Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti visited the sites last summer.

We publish Vlajic’s introductory address from today’s discussion below:

What we are talking about today is not expropriation. It is thievery.
It is expropriation when the law and procedure are respected, and when the law is not respected, it is oppression.

When 20 of us play football and respect the rules, we play football, and when 10 people take sticks, and guns and beat the other 10 – they are not playing football, so we are not here for expropriation. We’re here for thievery.

I believed, Mr. Murati, that after our previous conversation in Leposavic six days ago, you realized and learned something. However, you understood nothing. You are telling us the same old story again and quoting the law. This is expropriation in Switzerland – not in Kosovo. We are all aware of that.

In Leposavic, you did not have an answer to one of the simplest questions. You don’t have one now. Tell us what you want to build. You have this information, but you have an order from the government not to say anything.

Why are you talking about economic development? Do you want to build a factory in Jasenovik? We all know what you will build, but you won’t say.

Secondly, you already did this. What’s the point of a public discussion, when you seized the land and built a military base or a police base, it doesn’t matter. It used to be called a barracks. You created barracks, and now you created a public debate.

Why don’t you quote the law and say that a public discussion should precede that? Did you tell the government that it is breaking the law? You did not. What is the purpose of today’s public debate? To justify what you have done illegally and to simulate compliance with the law.

We all know that the government has the right to expropriate, but citizens have rights as well. Many of our towns were built with the help of expropriation. A house is demolished, and a skyscraper with a hundred apartments is built. It is of general interest. The man whose house was demolished gets an apartment. What did these people get?

They woke up one day with excavators digging through their property they have been using for centuries. Guns are being pointed at them, as well, and nobody is saying anything to them. They are building a base, heavy vehicles pass through the village all day long. They cannot use their own road. Female children are not allowed to step out in their front yards. With noise and light blasting all night long, a four-meter fence was erected where it has never been before. What kind of life is that?

The police steal and pick all the apples that grow in September, you can’t find any. What is the public interest in it? What is the public interest when no one wants that? And how can we discuss the public interest, which is the basic condition for expropriation, if you won’t say what you want to build, and when everyone is looking for an answer to that question.

You are lying. You are mentioning some economic interests, development, some roads. Which of these people asked for it? No one did.

This is not how the expropriation procedure is conducted, and that is clear to you. I don’t have to tell you this. You came here to justify what was done illegally. You are now talking about compensation. These people did not come here for compensation. They came to oppose this tyranny, to prevent barracks from being built in the middle of their village.

Tell me about one example where expropriation was carried out in the south of Kosovo. The facilities were built, and then a public discussion was organized. There is no such case. The government from Pristina is doing this only in the north and nowhere else. Such an illegal case has not been recorded. People are not interested in compensation.

We have to assess the public interest. If you are not going to say what you are building, what are we talking about?! Are you building an amusement park? Are you building a wind park? Shoe factory – to employ people, ETC, a supermarket, or are you building a military or police base? Border police 25 km from the border?

You are obliged to declare it and you are obliged to say it to everyone, and if you have the answers, give them and don’t lead us astray.

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

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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