22 March 2007

Unrest in Orahovac following KFOR withdrawal

Radio Television Serbia, Belgrade, Wednesday, December 27, 2006 16:12


The surprise withdrawal of KFOR troops from Orahovac has provoked unrest among the remaining Serbs and Roma there who have been living in the upper part of town for the past seven years under the protection of international forces, stated Orahovac coordinator Dejan Baljosevic. He said that KFOR's decision to leave was incomprehensible.


On Monday, without any previous announcement or notification, KFOR forces removed their vehicles and military equipment, abandoning the military base located in immediate proximity to the church in the upper part of Orahovac.


According to Baljosevic, since KFOR's departure this part of Orahovac is completely empty. About 100 students are attending classes but both children and adults are in their houses by dusk.


KFOR troops based near Velika Hoca will be sending patrols to north Orahovac in the future, he said.


In an open letter to the KFOR commander, Coordinating Center president Sanda Raskovic-Ivic most strongly condemned this move and warned that leaving the population unprotected may have grave consequences.


Representatives of Kosovo Serbs condemn KFOR's withdrawal


Representatives of Kosovo Serbs have condemned the withdrawal of KFOR troops from northern Orahovac, leaving approximately 450 Serbs who have remained in the town since 1999 without protection.


Serb National Council of North Kosovo president Milan Ivanovic said that KFOR's actions differ from its rhetoric advocating ensurement of safety for all in Kosovo and Metohija.


"Withdrawal of KFOR troops from north Orahovac is a move that shows that their words are mere rhetoric and that in some sort of independent Kosovo, Serb would be abandoned to the Albanian extremists," believes Ivanovic. He emphasized that such moves by KFOR should serve "to reinforce our conviction that we must rely completely on ourselves and our homeland".


"If KFOR doesn't want to undertake measures to protect Serbs then our homeland must inform the international community that it will protect its people. With its latest move, KFOR has taken a big step," said Ivanovic.


The president of the Union of Serb Municipalities and Settlements in Kosovo and Metohija Marko Jaksic stated that "KFOR has not come here to protect the Serbs but primarily to protect the Albanians and a pseudosovereign creation that is supposed to be called conditionally independent Kosovo".


"This is why we have such a large number of displaced Serbs; we also have the departure of KFOR from the so-called Serb Street in Orahovac, gathered around the Serb church in the Serb part of the town," he said.


Jaksic assessed that KFOR's decision to withdraw from the Serb part of Orahovac constitutes further proof that neither KFOR nor UNMIK care much about protecting the Serbs; they are here primarily for strategic and political reasons, as well as to form yet another Albanian state in the Balkans.