Kosovo murder blamed on foreigners

Kosovo murder blamed on foreigners

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has suggested that the murder of a ethnic-Serb political leader was the result of illegal international interference.

Oliver Ivanovic (pictured) was shot dead on January 16 in the Serb-majority northern part of the divided city of Mitrovica in an attack that has raised tensions in the Balkans and prompted the suspension of EU talks between Kosovo and Serbia.

The 64-year-old leader of the Kosovo-Serb Freedom, Democracy and Justice party was due to attend EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. The talks are aimed at normalising relations between Serbia and what it regards as a breakaway province.

The Serbs have since abandoned the Brussels talks.

Ivanovic was facing a retrial for alleged war crimes against ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo war of liberation.

He was considered a moderate who maintained relations with Nato and the EU after Serbia lost control of northern Kosovo following Nato’s 1999 bombing to stop the Serb crackdown on the ethnic-Albanian population.

“We think that this crime, as well as certain criminal developments taking place in the north, are the result of illegal involvement in the north of other institutions beyond Kosovo,” Haradinaj told Kosovo’s National Security Council.

Haradinaj rejected a Serb demand to take part in the investigation and said he might invite FBI involvement from Washington.

Kosovo’s police offered a €10,000 reward for information about the attackers.

Serb President Aleksandar Vucic called the murder “an act of terror” and vowed to find those responsible.

“Serbia will take all necessary measures, and I promised the same to Oliver Ivanovic’s wife, and we will find the killer or killers,” Vucic said after meeting the National Security Council.

Ivanovic was reportedly shot six times in an apparent drive-by shooting carried out by more than one assailant while the politician was entering his office.

Ivanovic, who was married with three children, had enemies both among Kosovo Albanians and nationalist Serbs, supposedly because of his moderate policies.

OSCE ambassador to Kosovo Jan Braathu said he was “shocked and deeply saddened”, adding that Ivanovic was “among the most prominent Kosovo Serb representatives for almost two decades”.

He urged “all sides to avoid dangerous rhetoric and remain calm at this sensitive time, and recommit themselves to continue the work toward the normalisation of relations and improvement of the lives of the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia”.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 10 years after a conflict between Serb forces and Kosovar-Albanian rebels. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as an independent country.


Murdered Oliver Ivanovic. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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