Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Minister for Kosovo talks population census

16 March 2011 | 16:30 | Source: Tanjug
BELGRADE -- Belgrade believes that the census of population in Kosovo and Metohija should be conducted by the United Nations (UN) in all Serb-inhabited areas.

Goran Bogdanović (Tanjug)
Goran Bogdanović (Tanjug)

The census should start on April 1, and Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović added that it could also be conducted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), when it comes to Serb areas.

This in order to avoid possible manipulations regarding the number of Serbs living there, Bogdanović stated on Wednesday.

Stressing that Belgrade is not opposed to a census being carried out, but only considers it unacceptable for it to be conducted by the Kosovo institutions, Bogdanović pointed out that the UN should be the body in charge of taking the census in all Serb-inhabited areas - “both north and south of the Ibar River.”

In the north Serbs are a majority, while south of the river they live in isolated enclaves.

“We have double standards here. The international community accepted that the census be taken by the UN in the north and by Kosovo's institutions south of the Ibar River - which we cannot accept due to previous bad experiences in this regard and because citizens of Serbian nationality have no more trust in them,” the minister told Tanjug.

Bogdanović noted that Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković informed Brussels about Serbia's position on the matter.

According to Bogdanović, the latest elections in Kosovo - organized by the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština - "showed massive manipulations and vote rigging, and census is and even more serious an issue than these".

“If you steal during elections, you are sure to steal during a census as well,” warned Bogdanović.

He assessed the situation as "fragile", since this is “not the first time that (ethnic) Albanians are trying to manipulate the number of Serbs living in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.”

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