Kosovo Serbs call independence declaration ‘a provocation’

Kosovo Serb leaders have described the so-called Independence Declaration of Serbian Territories in Kosovo as a provocation. Rada Trajkovic, a local Serb leader, said no one in Kosovo considered the declaration serious.

The declaration, signed by the Association of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, a completely unknown organization, was distributed on Tuesday to Serbs in northern Kosovo.

The five-page declaration reads: “As the free will of Serb people, the assembly approves the declaration of independence of the [Serbian] territories… from the creation… called the Republic of Kosovo.”

The document does not demand the partition of Kosovo for “as long as the province of Kosovo is part of Serbia based on international law”. However, the declaration describes the Republic of Kosovo as a state created by genocide committed against non-Albanians.

“This is not a document, it is just a pamphlet and its purpose is to see what Serbian reaction would be to the idea of Kosovo’s partition,” Trajkovic said.

Trajkovic said she did not believe the authors of the declaration were from Kosovo. “Nowhere in this document do I see evidence of the emotions that exist among Serbs. Also, the number of Serbian churches mentioned in the document is wrong; that is a mistake no Serbs from Kosovo could make,” she said.

Marko Jaksic, president of the Assembly of Serbian Municipalities and Towns of Kosovo and Metohija, agreed that the goal of the declaration was to test public opinion on the issue of partition, the Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti reported.

“It is an illegal document, it has no author and as such it does not deserve attention,” Jaksic told Vecernje novosti.

The Pristina daily Express claimed that Jaksic and Milan Ivanovic, members of the Serb National Council for Kosovo, were among the authors of the declaration, however.

For its part, the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija condemned the declaration and called on Kosovo Serbs not to respond to “provocations by Pristina and irresponsible individuals from the Serbian community.

“The Serbian government has defined its policy towards Kosovo and Metohija, which is well known to Kosovo Serbs, and we are not giving it up,” the ministry announced.

Kosovo’s interior minister, Bajram Rexhepi, said he also considered the declaration an act of provocation, according to Serbian media reports. “We are closely monitoring development,” he was reported as saying

Kosovo’s President, Fatmir Sejdiu, and Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, called on the International Civilian Office, KFOR, and the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX, to look into the matter.

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