Thursday, November 28, 2013

Leaders of ethnic Albanian parties demand gov't guarantees

11/28/2013 7:13:00 PM

 PRESEVO - Leaders of ethnic Albanian political parties from southern Serbia have demanded that the government give them guarantees that it will honor the promises made in talks with officials concerning the development of the three municipalities in the south, and resolve the issues relating to the justice system and census.

  They addressed a letter to Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, calling for guarantees that the promises made earlier to leaders of ethnic Albanian parties from the three municipalities- Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja- will be fulfilled. The guarantees were requested after leaders of ethnic Albanian parties decided on Friday to cease the talks with the Serbian government on seven points, and Prime Minister Dacic urged them on Saturday not to suspend the talks. Assistant Mayor of Presevo Skender Destani told Tanjug on Thursday that political representatives of the Albanian minority are demanding their rights through institutions, and want to resolve all problems in the three municipalities in a peaceful way. “We are willing to reach an agreement, but the agreement that would benefit both sides - the Serbian government and ethnic Albanians,” Destani said.

 The immediate reason for quitting the talks was the last week's passage of amendments to the law on the network of courts, which did not include the amendments that envisaged the opening of courts in Presevo and Bujanovac, which were put forward by MP of the Coalition of the Albanians of the Presevo Valley Riza Halimi. The letter, which Tanjug has seen, notes that problems arose during the talks with representatives of the Ministry of Justice and after the adoption of the Law on Seats and Territorial Jurisdiction of Courts and Public Prosecutors' Offices. 

 The new legal solution, according to which Presevo will not get a basic court and prosecutor's office and Bujanovac- a police court and prosecutor's office, seriously jeopardizes the interests of the Albanian population, the letter notes. Local Albanians boycotted the 2011 census in the three municipalities in southern Serbia, in line with the decision of ethnic Albanian political parties. Based on the talks that were held, in the presence of OSCE officials, with leaders of ethnic Albanian parties in January and February, the Serbian government adopted a seven-point platform in June, whose implementation has begun. 

 The platform covers the issues relating to the presence of the Albanian minority in state institutions, economic recovery of the three municipalities, the official use of the language, script and national symbols, decentralization in the justice system, education, culture and media, health care, social protection, security and measures for restoring trust in that area.

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