Kosovo protests ban on ex-president's Serbia visit

Relations are tense between Pristina and Belgrade, which refuses to recognise the independence of Kosovo -- its former province populated mostly by ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo protests ban on ex-president's Serbia visit

World Bulletin / News Desk

Kosovo's government on Friday protested against a ban by Serbian authorities on a planned visit by former president Atifete Jahjaga to Belgrade, and urged the European Union to intervene.

Jahjaga, president of Kosovo from 2011 until last year, was invited to the Serbian capital as a guest speaker at the "Miredita, dobar dan!" festival, which runs until June 3 and whose name means "good day" in Albanian and Serbian.

She was due to talk about the issue of "the tragedy of women who survived sexual violence" during Kosovo's 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia.

The festival organisers said Jahjaga had been banned from visiting Serbia owing to "political decisions made at the highest level".

The rejection of Jahjaga's visit and speech "clearly shows that Serbia is not ready to face its aggressive and genocidal past towards Albanians," said Kosovo's minister for dialogue, Edita Tahiri, in a statement.

The 1990s conflict saw Kosovo's ethnic Albanian pro-independence rebels take on the troops of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, leading to Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence a decade later.

Tahiri said the ban on Jahjaga violated agreements over freedom of movement, and she called on the European Union "to intervene in this issue as soon as possible" in order for the former head of state's trip to go ahead.

Serbia and its former province launched EU-brokered talks in 2011 to improve their relations. Although more than 110 countries now recognise Kosovo's independence, Serbia and Russia do not.

Serbia's refusal of the former president "shows that they are not ready for peace, justice and neighbourly relations between two states, Kosovo and Serbia, which are key objectives of the EU-facilitated dialogue", Tahiri said.

Serbian officials were not immediately available for comment on the matter.

The regional Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), the group organising the festival, said the aim of the event was to improve relations between the two societies.

The group said it was unable to influence the decision to ban Jahjaga and that the move confirmed the "need to intensify cooperation".


Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2017, 15:27