February 14, 2012
Serbs in northern Kosovo, who oppose independence declared by majority Albanians in 2008, went to the polls on Tuesday to vote in a referendum against Pristina institutions, despite warning by the international community and Serbian leaders in Belgrade that the vote would be invalid.
Mitrovica, KOSOVO – by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | DEMOTiX |
“People don’t want Kosovo authorities lead by ethnic Albanians, everyone knows that, we just want to make it clear again, with another legal step” told Demotix Liljana Jankovic, a journalist that works in a Serbian national broadcaster.
Jankovic, believes that this is a challenging step of Kosovo northern Serbs for the Belgrade authorities, since she told me that she would be willing to support Belgrade authorities, but she don’t want to become a black sheep amongst the others who are joining the crowd.
Some 35,000 registered voters in four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo were expected to vote on Tuesday and are expected as well on Wednesday to confirm once again that they don’t recognize Kosovo independence and oppose Pristina rule.
Kosovo Serb leaders insisted the referendum was their “strongest weapon” whose aim wasn’t to hurt Serbia’s interests, but to send a “strong political message” to the international community and Belgrade that they won’t live under Pristina’s rule.
International representatives in Kosovo have said the referendum was illegal and would have no legal bearings, but the vote was going on without any incidents. The voters will have to answer the referendum question “Do you accept the institutions of the so called Republic of Kosovo”.
Dobrosav Dobric told Demotix that local Serbs just wanted to reiterate their stands that they don’t want to live under Pristina rule.
“People want to live where their ancestors had lived and that is the Republic of Serbia,” Dobric said. “We could be enslaved by force, but we won’t willingly assimilate and integrate into that state (Kosovo),” he added.
Serbian president Boris Tadic, who formally opposes independence but is eager to come to some sort of an agreement with Kosovo Albanians for the sake of Serbia’s joining the EU, said the referendum was detrimental to Belgrade’s interests.
“This move by leaders of municipalities in northern Kosovo can only diminishes the state potentials and is not in the interest of Kosovo Serbs,” Tadic said. It only “aggravates the state position in the defense of its legitimate interests in Kosovo”, he added.
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999, when NATO bombed for 78 days to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war under then-President Slobodan Milosevic.
More than 80 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU’s 27 members, have recognized the state, the last to emerge from the remains of old federal Yugoslavia. But Serbia’s ally Russia has blocked a resolution on independence in the United Nations Security Council.