B92 News, April 08, 2009
Serbs protest at Albanian rebuilding plans
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Serbs from the Kosovska Mitrovica suburb of Brđani are protesting at the plans of a group of Albanians to begin rebuilding work on their homes there.
The work on five Albanian-owned houses in Brđani, in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, has been put back a week, according to information from the KPS, said Milija Milošević, police commander in the north of the town.
Local Serbs came out in force this morning to voice their opposition to the Albanians' plans, who announced that they were coming back to rebuild their homes damaged during the Kosovo conflict in1999.
Serb representative Siniša Lazić said that the protest would continue over the coming days since, he claimed, the Albanians wanted to go through with their plans by force.
“The locals have the backing of citizens and the municipal and district presidents. The protests will continue until an agreement over this problem is reached,” said Lazić.
Kosovska Mitrovica Municipal President Nenad Topličević said that it had been made clear to KFOR representatives that the Serbs wanted a peaceful solution to the problem, stressing that the return of displaced persons would not be possible without an agreement.
“We want a peaceful solution and we will not drop our demands. No dispute is worth victims,“ said Topličević, pointing out that UNMIK had received 450 applications from Serbs wishing to return to their homes in the majority-Albanian southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica.
The situation in Brđani is peaceful, a strong Kosovo Police Service and KFOR presence is visible on the ground, while a helicopter belonging to the international forces has been monitoring the site throughout the day.
KFOR troops will have to take responsibility for any incidents that might take place in Brđani, warned local Serb representatives earlier.
After meeting with the commander of KFOR’s northern sector, French General Philippe Bras, Lazić said that Serbs from that part of Kosovska Mitrovica had informed Bras of the reasons why they opposed the rebuilding work to five Albanian-owned houses in Brđani.
Despite warnings that it would constitute a security risk, he said that KFOR representatives had insisted that the work should go ahead.
Five Serbs were injured in escalating clashes that flared in the northern Kosovska Mitrovica suburb late last year.
A fight between local Serbs and Albanians broke out when a group of Albanians, escorted by KFOR troops, turned up in the neighborhood intending to begin reconstruction work.