Monday, January 21, 2013

PM: No reason for Albanians in south to protest

MOKRA GORA -- The state acted according to the law when it removed a memorial in Preševo and there is no reason for any kind of protests in the south, says Ivica Dačić.
Ivica Dačić (Beta, file)
Ivica Dačić (Beta, file)
The Serbian prime minister spoke late on Sunday on Mt. Mokra Gora in western Serbia where he was a guest of a film festival.
His comments came after the memorial for the members of the ethnic Albanians UCMPB (OVMPB) was removed earlier in the day.

Dačić told reporters that "there was no reason for unrest or any kind of protest, because the monument was removed and not destroyed, nor was force used".

He also noted that "certain legal deadlines had been given" previously to remove the structure that was built without a permit.

The now disbanded ethnic Albanian group was considered terrorist by the authorities for launching attacks against Serbian soldiers, policemen, and civilians in the area in 2000 and 2001.

"Serbia will behave like any other country in the world - let's not have those who would have torn it down the first day lecture us," the premier said, and added that he "does not believe that in the U.S. Al Qaeda veterans, or those who carried out various terrorist attacks in London, Paris, would decide whether a memorial should be built".

"The fact that Serbia wishes to negotiate should not be understood as a weakness. We are firm in wanting a dialogue, and firm in defending our Serbia."

Dačić also stated that he "earlier suggested for some sort of agreement to be reached - but this story is over, and done."

"I certainly did not provoke this crisis, it has been provoked by the behavior of the Albanians in southern Serbia. They think they can do what they like," he said, and noted that their leaders announced "a continued struggle with the support of the international community".

The prime minister then wondered, "what international community, which international community".

He also observed that "he was the one talking with the international community", and that the Preševo controversy was, "according to what everyone has said", an internal matter for Serbia.

"(Hashim) Thaci can put his customs at administrative crossings and say that the laws of Kosovo must be respected, and now that the laws of Serbia must be respected - let's negotiate. There will be no negotiations with terrorists - that's what we've learned from the West."

According to Dačić, negotiations cannot be held with those who glorify terrorism, "but only with those who wish to be a part of our political and constitutional system".

Ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia on Sunday announced a gathering for Monday, in order to protests over the removal of the memorial.

No incidents have been reported from the area, but several incidents took place in Kosovo, as ethnic Albanians there also staged protests.

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