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South Slavic: April 15, 2004

15 April 2004, Volume 6, Number 15


Part II.

Adem Demaci, known as "the Kosovar Mandela," is one of the most respected figures on Kosovo's public stage. Oliver Ivanovic is a prominent representative of the Kosovo Serbs and member of the Presidency of Kosovo. Interviewed for RFE/RL's Radio Most (Bridge) by Omer Karabeg.

On 22 March, RFE/RL's Radio Most presented the first public dialogue between Serbs and Albanians after the violent incidents several days earlier (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 19 and 26 March, and 2 April 2004).

Oliver Ivanovic: But what about the freedom of non-Albanians? There are non-Albanians, too, you know. What are we supposed to do?

If you are right, then there will certainly be no peace. If we keep discussing things from the past, who did what to whom first, the causes and consequences [of this and that], [tensions] will never cease.

I considered you a reasonable man who is able to say: enough is enough. You should have said it on 16 June 1999, when Kosovo became an international protectorate and international forces were deployed.

That was the right moment to draw the line under the past and start building something new. You failed to understand that, since you are attracted by the romantic, irrational wish to become independent -- and the price is being paid by all those who disagree.

That is not the way to go. [But now we are headed for a future that is] monoethnic, which will lead to new tensions and probably a war. That is not good, and you should know it.

Adem Demaci: You [seem to be looking for a new fight] instead of accepting the facts and the situation as it is here. If you want to calm down Kosovo, you should accept things the way they are so that we can live together again and solve our problems.

As long as you try to rule Kosovo, claiming that you have a right to have it because you occupied it in 1912, you cannot democratize yourselves. Your own democratization will start once you give up Kosovo.

If you want a quiet and democratic Serbia, as well as peace in the Balkans, then you have to recognize that the Albanians are entitled to the same rights that you want for yourself.

Would you like to be dominated by the Romanians or Hungarians? Of course not. No one would. Why then expect the Albanians to recognize the rule of some 6 to 7 percent of the population -- the Serbs -- over all of Kosovo?

Ivanovic: Who in the Serbian government is trying to dominate Kosovo? What makes you think that?

Violence is not a method used by the present government in Serbia. It uses democratic methods. However, you should forget the idea that any Serb could ever sign away Kosovo. No one [in Serbia] would ever accept that.

A part of Serbia can only secede with Serbia's agreement. It will be governed by those elected by the people to the parliament of the autonomous province. You can also have your representatives in the parliament of Serbia, the federal parliament, etc. That is the way to go.

Demaci: That's a likely story. We have had enough of such Serbian stories, saying that the guys before us did it wrong, and we will not make the same mistake.

The communists used to say that the king was bad and they were good. They nonetheless forced people into fleeing to Turkey by threatening discrimination, lynchings, and killings.

And now you tell us the same old story: Milosevic was bad, but we are not like him.

Forget it. Be strong and accept what life demands, namely to let people be free, with equal rights and their own state. The will of a people alone should determine its fate, not the actions of others.

Ivanovic: Why shouldn't the representatives of the government in Serbia and those from Kosovo try to talk and find a solution?

Demaci: We have to ask the people. A referendum is the solution. No solutions such as negotiations and talks behind the back of the people are acceptable.

Ivanovic: In that case, we can allow every local community to organize a referendum. What shall we do with the local communities that do not want to accept that solution? In that case, a referendum should be organized in Serbia, too. What do you think the majority in Serbia would decide?

Demaci: Why should the Serbian people be involved? We should decide our own fate.

Ivanovic: Because Kosovo is a part of Serbia. You should understand that.

Demaci: It is not Serbian territory. It is Kosovo, and the people of Kosovo should decide.

Ivanovic: Are you going to include [the largely Serbian communities of] Gorazdevac and Strpce in that state of yours?

Demaci: Why not? They are on Kosovo's territory.

Ivanovic: But they do not want that. Don't you understand?

Demaci: They will [agree to Kosovo's statehood], they will, but you do not allow them [to do so]. Belgrade does not allow it.

Ivanovic: Please be serious. We are being killed in the very presence of KFOR troops. What would happen if we were left all alone in that state of yours? It would be a catastrophe for us....

Demaci: Who started the killing? The Serbian state started killing Albanians in 1912 and never stopped. That same state now claims to be democratic, after torching Slovenia and Croatia and provoking a tragedy, first in Bosnia-Herzegovina and then in Kosovo.

Ivanovic: Who is provoking the tragedy in Kosovo? Who is doing it now?

Demaci: Serbia is responsible for the tragedy that took place in the past, as well as for the one that is taking place today.

Your police and military bosses publicly claim that they have their men in Kosovo. But there are still so many unsolved murders. Why? Because investigations are held only into crimes committed by Albanians, never by Serbs....

Mr. Ivanovic, we are both citizens of Kosovo. We do not need anybody from Belgrade to interfere and teach us how to govern ourselves.

But you and your Povratak [Return] coalition now claim to be the representatives of Belgrade, and you are trying to give Kosovo back to Belgrade. Therefore, you are responsible for the bloodshed, too.