Ivanovic: I was arrested so my political action could stop
Oliver Ivanovic, one of the Serb leaders in northern Kosovo, against whom a criminal indictment for crimes against ethnic Albanians has been issued recently, said he had been arrested so that his political action could be prevented.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
“My arrest had only one goal: to exclude me from political and public life,” Ivanovic said in an interview he gave to Belgrade-based daily Politika in writing on the day before the indictments against him was issued.He pointed out that he had first been arrested, and then the alleged evidence against him had been being collected for seven months, an indication that the reasons behind his arrest were political.The leader of the Citizens’ Initiative “Freedom, Democracy, Justice” (GI SDP) was arrested on January 27 and the indictment was served on him three days ago, on August 11.According to Ivanovic’s lawyer, Ivanovic is charged with committing war crimes in April 1999 (during the armed conflict in Kosovo and the NATO bombing of Serbia) and with being involved in riots of February 3, 2000, when 10 ethnic Albanians were killed, which broke out after a bomb was thrown into a bar in North Mitrovica and had several Serbs wounded.Ivanovic said that the main reason for his arrest might be EULEX wanting to reduce the dissatisfaction of Kosovo Albanians over the extension of the mission’s mandate until 2016.He recalled that the Kosovo public had already started a campaign according to which EULEX should have left and transferred their powers to, as he said, “completely immature Kosovo judicial and police structures.”Ivanovic said that his arrest, which took place in the midst of the local elections campaign, could be directly related to his almost certain election as mayor of North Mitrovica.“My political views were clear long before the elections. The northern municipalities (with a Serbian majority) should elect their assemblies and mayors, not because Pristina is seeking that, nor because it is suggested by the Serbian government and Serbs from Kosovo should have the best possible relationship with it, but because the citizens of these municipalities need that,” he said.“We must never have disagreements between the four municipalities’ presidents and the Serbian government again, regardless of who makes up the government. The key to our existence is: cooperation with Pristina only to the extent that our common interests may command, and no political concessions, unless these are agreed with Belgrade,” said the GI SDP leader.Asked if he believes Hasim Taci would serve in the future Pristina government, Ivanovic said that the outgoing prime minister of Kosovo had “managed to create enemies in all political parties and nobody wants him in a coalition.”However, he said, since 2007, Taci had managed to create his own “infrastructure” in all institutions and segments of society, and cleansing of those was out of question as it would cause upsets and problems of giant proportions, and concluded: “It means: it is hard to be with Taci, and even harder without him.”The SDP leader told Politika that new elections in Kosovo were unwanted but he was confident that early elections would take place anyway.Ivanovic said that he needed serious medical examinations and tests that could not be done while he was in custody, but expressed doubt about EULEX showing understanding for his health problems, as they believed it could cause gatherings of Serbs and pose a flight risk!?