Serbian President Boris Tadic's Christmas visit to Kosovo draws fire after he makes political statements.
By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 09/01/12
Serbian President Boris Tadic (centre) met with Serbian Orthodox bishop Teodosije (right) during his visit to the Visoki Decani Monastery on Saturday (January 7th). [Laura Hasani/SETimes]
Kosovo's Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci told Klan Kosova TV on Sunday (January 8th) that Serbian President Boris Tadic will not be welcomed in the country in the future after the visiting official made political statements at what was to be a Christmas visit to the Visoki Decani Monastery at the weekend.
Tadic arrived in Kosovo on Friday to take part in the Orthodox Christmas liturgy at the Visoki Monastery of Decan in Istog and the Monastery of Pec.
The government approved his visit after the request came through the EU offices in Belgrade and Pristina.
"This important celebration for Orthodox believers carries the message of breeding the best values of trust, respect, harmony and peace in our free, democratic and multi-ethnic society," Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said of the visit.
Asked by journalists outside the monastery if Serbia would recognise Kosovo, Tadic replied "never". In an interview for TV Most, he said that he will not remove Serbian institutions from Kosovo -- one of the main requests of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"We will not accept to remove our institutions. This is impossible. If we accept that we would displace Serbs in Kosovo. It means that the Serbs would have no schools, no health and social service and other social providing," he said.
Hundreds of people staged protests and hurled stones at the Serbian motorcade.
Mitrovica Mayer Krstimir Pantic voiced concern over the incidents.
"All that happened during Tadic's visit to Kosovo shows what the Albanians really think of the Serbs and how bad the security situation is. Now we have seen what our life in independent Kosovo would look like and how the Albanians would act," Pantic told SETimes.
KFOR and EULEX police were responsible for the president's security during the visit, while Kosovo police dealt with protesters in areas through which Tadic would pass.
The visit was also opposed by the Vetvendosje Movement, many of whose members took part in the protests and were arrested.
"Serbia is detrimental to the Kosovo state. Its illegal structures engage in criminal activities against the state of Kosovo and the Albanians here. Its foreign policy is focused entirely against [Kosovo's] independence in each international instance. [As the] head of this policy, Boris Tadic … is unacceptable to Kosovo's citizens," Visar Ymeri, head of Vetvedosje's Parliamentary Caucus told SETimes.
Edita Tahiri, who leads Kosovo's delegation in the Pristina-Belgrade talks, told SETimes that the request made by Tadic and the Serbian government was to allow a religious visit.
"We have officially characterised it as a religious visit, and if he keeps the agenda as that, the visit will remain a non-political visit. [Religious] visits are normal, but if he repeats his behaviour … giving political and destabilising statements, then its sure it will not be assessed as positive," Tahiri told SETimes.
Political analyst Fatlum Sadiku agreed.
"Tadic violated the agreement that his visit will be religious and not political. By giving the statements on not removing Serbian institutions and never recognising Kosovo, he made political statements."
But Serbian analyst Vladimir Goati thinks that the Kosovo's government response was a unilateral one that will not improve relations and security in Kosovo.
"The authorities in Kosovo should show some more tolerance," Goati told SETimes. At the same time, he believes that now it is clear that Serbia has virtually no sovereignty and decision-making power in Kosovo.
Opposition Democratic Party of Serbia spokesman Petar Petkovic said Tadic's visit was the latest in a line that Belgrade is presenting to the public.
"This Christmas visit is just one of many deceptions aimed at showing the citizens that the authorities are supposedly defending Kosovo and sovereignty in that territory," Petkovic told SETimes.
SETimes correspondent Bojana Milovanovic in Belgrade contributed to this article.