New Democracy, founded by Return and Communities Minister Branislav Grbic, plans to focus on minority and social rights.
By Blerta Foniqi-Kabashi for Southeast European Times in Pristina – 12/07/07
Return and Communities Minister Branislav Grbic [Laura Hasani]
Return and Communities Minister Branislav Grbic on Wednesday (July 11th) announced the launch of a new Serb political party, New Democracy.
"This is new political option which will represent citizens' interests in all aspects, with democratic principles and in compatibility with the interests of international community towards the fulfillment of final status," Grbic said after the OSCE certified the party.
The top priorities for New Democracy will be minority and social rights, economic issues and democratic interests, Grbic said.
Speaking on the province's future, Grbic said "our political party is new, and in the near future we will create our stance. But I am sure that we will have an opinion which will [comply] with the stance of the Kosovo government and the international community."
At the same time, he said, all new parties should accept that all options are still on the table when it comes to resolving Kosovo's status.
"All those who are interested in living together in a multiethnic Kosovo should support our party," Grbic said. He called on Kosovo Serbs to support New Democracy, saying it would contribute to co-existence.
Grbic, formerly a member of the Serb Democratic Party of Kosovo (SDSK), took his ministerial post after SDSK leader Slavisa Petkovic resigned the office in 2006.
Other Serb political groupings in Kosovo include Civic Initiative Serbia, the Party of Democratic Action, and the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija. Unlike the other parties, which are headquartered in the Serb enclaves, New Democracy will be based in Pristina.
Oliver Ivanovic, who leads the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija, told Southeast European Times that there are many parties being formed, but he doubts their political significance.
"I don't have information on what kind of political party New Democracy is, but I don't believe that it will have power," he said. "There have been many political parties claiming to be established, but let's wait until the elections and then we will see who will win and how many political parties we need.
A Kosovo Albanian teacher, Mirush Gashi, told Southeast European Times that parties in Kosovo are like "rainbow after rain". However, he said, Serb political parties are working under Belgrade's direction and should be registered in Serbia. . "Why are they registered in Pristina? They always consult with Serbia and they were represented in Serbia’s delegation."
Nebojsa Ristic, a Kosovo Serb, is optimistic about New Democracy. "The more parties, the better, because we can choose one which works for our interests," he says.
Grbic, he says, should work more on the refugee returns process, both as head of the new party and in his capacity as Minister for Returns and Communities
"There are many Serb refugees and I am doubtful that they will return, especially if Kosovo will be independent," Ristic said, adding that efforts should be made to convince Serbs that Kosovo will be multiethnic and a state for everyone.