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South Slavic: April 22, 2004

22 April 2004, Volume 6, Number 16

The next issue of "RFE/RL South Slavic Report" will appear on 27 May.


Part III.

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 and 16 April 2004).

Oliver Ivanovic: Unsolved murder cases are a big problem. They are not solved because you, Mr. Demaci, are not ready to go to court and say: 'Yes, that man has committed a crime. He killed a Serb or another man, of whatever nationality.' Why don't you use your influence and help find those responsible for the latest violence?

The Serbs would be very happy to finally see a crime being solved and the criminal punished. It does not matter whether it is a local court or the Hague tribunal, but finally a murder case that is solved.

However, Mr. Demaci, your obsession with and irrational wish for independence prevent you from seeking the rule of law instead of that of force.

That is the problem, Mr. Demaci. Those things cannot be resolved by force. Whoever tried it made a catastrophic mistake.

Adem Demaci: Let us talk about facts. Since the arrival of international troops [in 1999], three times more Albanians have been killed than Serbs, and the murder cases have never been solved. It is not so easy.

Ivanovic: Why not? The judges are Albanians.

Demaci: It is not easy because the judiciary is all topsy-turvy.

Ivanovic: There is always someone else to blame. That is your main problem, Mr. Demaci: as an intellectual and a man who suffered so long because of unfair trials [under communism], you are not ready to say that what we need here is justice, not chaos.

The one with the most guns and pistols rules the roost here. No murder or criminal case can be solved under such a system. Once there are no more Serbs in Kosovo, Albanians will become the victims because the criminals here will have no other people to kill....

Demaci: Let's start with the basics. The biggest injustice of all is to deny a people the right to decide its own future for itself....

You want to force the Albanians to be part of a state that caused them so much trouble. That is the essence of the dispute.... Serbia keeps coming up with new tricks to prevent us from finding a solution.

Ivanovic: Mr. Demaci, those are not tricks, those are [our] laws. Independence cannot be a solution for all problems.

According to you, independence means prosperity. Well, that is not so. There are many undemocratic independent states, you should know that.

Hypothetically speaking, if Kosovo becomes independent, it would be the most undemocratic creation in the world....

Prosperity will come with a well-organized system and institutions, not with independence [where crime flourishes]. But that is not what you are interested in; all you care about is the final status. Just like a broken record, you keep repeating one word: independence.

Demaci: That is the main point. What we need is independence.

Ivanovic: It is not.

Demaci: It is not what you need, it is what we need.

Ivanovic: First you should condemn the crimes [that have been committed], and work more and talk less. You do not need independence for that. You do not need independence to stop corruption.

You have the pro-Albanian UNMIK [UN civil administration in Kosova], and it has favored you from the very beginning. You hold the absolute majority [of positions] in all institutions. You have power, and now you need independence.

It is the same old story. You are like a child who does not like the ice-cream cone in his hand, but wants the other child's cone.

Demaci: If independence is so unimportant, why don't you give up yours? Why did you die for your independence, why do you celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising as the beginning of the Serbian state?

You do not think that others should have what you have. We need our freedom too. We can create solid institutions to rule this country only if we are free and independent. I tell you that we will create a Kosovo that will be a model for everybody else.

Ivanovic: Never.

Demaci: You will come from Serbia to see how we have solved our problems. Our state will be a role model.

We will create it because we have the laws of both life and nature on our side. The Albanians have no alternative. The Albanians cannot live without freedom, because without freedom life has no meaning.