PAGE 2/3


NO 131-132

PAGE 2/3 ::: 1 | 2 | 3

INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 131-132 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 131-132

September - October 2009

p131-132m.jpg (1000 bytes)


Kosovo Elections

God is far away - And so is Tsar

By Miroslav Filipovic


Unless Belgrade punishes the Kosovo Serbs voting in November 15 local elections, disobedience may turn into their habit and the date itself into a pattern for and the beginning of their total disregard for Belgrade's irrational parasites and pests.

"Congratulations to all brave, wise and clever Serbs, who went to polls yesterday and thus prevented Shiptars from shaping our destiny. Yesterday we all witnessed how hard the Radicals were trying to prevent us from voting but of no avail."

This statement by an anonymous Serb from the town of Strpce in South Kosovo - obviously a voter in the past elections - probably best illustrates the outcome of last week's elections in Kosovo. It was publicized at the internet forum at The site carries several stories under the banner "Victory!" All of them praise the fact that a wiser part of Kosovo Serb population broke up the blockade and turned a blind ear to the Belgrade government suggesting a boycott of the elections, as well as to "field workers" from the Serb Radical Party and clerical-nationalistic circles amply supported by racketeers from all secret services.

Kosovo officials called the elections - the first elections since Kosovo's independence declaration - historical. And they could also be historical for Kosovo Serbs.

Though some thirty percent of Serbs at most went to the polls in Srpci and other towns, for "normal" Serbs it was a victory won by resoluteness, courage and wisdom.

According to the Central Electoral Commission, the second round will have to be organized in 20 out of 36 municipalities this December. Premier Hashim Thachi's Democratic Party won in five municipalities in the first round, whereas the Alliance for Future of Kosovo came out victorious in three and the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo in five municipalities. Serb parties won in three newly formed municipalities and the Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo in Mamusa.

The oppositionist New Alliance of Kosovo came public with tape-recording showing members of election commission in Djakovica stacking ballots into boxes after the close of the polls. Local media broadcast tapes from Vitina, showing the same action.

In the meantime, candidates from six Serb parties competing in the municipality of Gracanica accused the Independent Liberal Party /SLS/ and Kosovo government of manipulating voters and demanded annulment of results. They claim that Premier Thachi provided financial support to SLS to crush the boycott and influence voters.

Forty-five percent of Kosovo electorate voted in the elections. The highest turnout in Serb municipalities was in Srpci - 30 percent. Turnout in the newly formed municipalities are also good: 23 percent in Gracanica, 25 in Ranilug and 13 in Klokot. Serbs from the municipalities in North Kosovo boycotted the elections.

Whereas hardly anyone opposes figures, assessments about the significance of the number of Serb voters are highly contradictory. Belgrade's governmental officials claim that "an insignificant number" of Serb participated in the elections and try to proclaim such low turnout their victory and yet another battle the official Belgrade has won in its struggle for annulment of Kosovo's independence. Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanovic called the elections illegal and said, "Only a handful of Serbs voted, whereas a great majority shared the Serbian government's view that there were no conditions for voting in the elections." Bogdanovic even accused Kosovo authorities of trying to rig the Serb turnout.

"When they realized that the turnout was low, organizers of the elections resorted to manipulation and irregular activities in order to pump up the so-called turnout of Serb voters. Everybody knows that the Serb community refused to accept a predetermined role and be the one to invest illegal elections with legitimacy," said Bogdanovic.

However, according to Rada Trajkovic, candidate of the Serb National Council of Central Kosovo, Serbs' turnout is excellent given all the developments in the field. By casting a ballot, Serbs have messaged everyone that they are against division of Kosovo and want to secure their existence in it, she said.

"Such unexpectedly high turnout of Serbs is a message to everybody - the international community, Belgrade and Albanians - that they must change their attitude towards the Serb community, start respecting it and change the policy that has been leading to permanent disappearance of Serbs from these areas over the past ten years," said Trajkovic.

Some other developments also demonstrated that Belgrade's power over Kosovo Serbs was no longer unquestionable. Serbs in Strpci were in revolt and wanted Belgrade to answer their questions.

Sladjan Ilic, a candidate for the office of Mayor of Strpci, said Belgrade should answer how it happened that Serbs lost power in this municipality. "Someone must definitely be called to account," he said. Because of Belgrade's call for boycott the "worst possible scenario" happened in Srpci, said Ilic.

President of the Provincial Committee of the Serb Renewal Movement Randjel Nojkic takes that Serbs' turnout in local elections manifests their wish to solve their problems through Kosovo institutions. To justify his stance, he quoted the case of Gracanica where the number of people casting a ballot in these elections exceeded by one thousand the number of voters in the elections called by Serbia's institutions not long ago. The turnout would have been even higher were there not for threats by local Serb officials, even on the election day, when they realized things got serious and numbers of people were going to the polls, said Nojkic.

Nojkic appealed to Serbian President Boris Tadic and the government to reconsider their Kosovo policy.

"If the President of Serbia and the government really care about Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and care about the way they are living in these areas, they must reconsider the causes of the situation and call to account the officials in charge of Kosovo and Metohija," said Nojkic.

Almost all foreign media reported that the international community was pleased with the elections. Everyone claims now that Kosovo proved its maturity as a state. Serbs who went to the polls considerably contributed to such statements unacceptable for Belgrade's nationalists. People are now expecting Belgrade's response - actually the response by the racketeers referred to in the opening passage of this story. The response could be brutal. A house in flames or a dead body found in a ditch would be nothing new - this happened in similar situations, while politicians and TV were accusing "Shiptar terrorists gone wild" of such deeds. Some Serbs could lose their jobs or financial assistance. Some governmental officials dared to officially announce the possibility.

And their announcement indicates that Belgrade financially assists Kosovo Serbs not because they are in dire straits but to buy their loyalty and consent for every decision no matter how damaging or irrational it might be. The word has it that lists of people who cast a ballot are being composed. That would be nothing new. Have we not already seen that Kosovo Serbs - like all Serbs for this matter - are nothing but living ballots for the official Belgrade? Belgrade's nationalists do not care for blood, sweat and tears of Kosovo Serbs. Power is all they care for - power that guarantees tons of money, respect and political and any other immunity.

For, unless Belgrade punishes the Kosovo Serbs voting in November 15 local elections, disobedience may turn into their habit and the date itself into a pattern for and the beginning of their total disregard for Belgrade's irrational parasites and pests.


NO 131-132

PAGE 2/3 ::: 1 | 2 | 3










Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - 2008

Web Design * Eksperiment