ERP KIM Newsletter
ANCESTRAL HOMES NOT
Vecernje Novine Daily, Belgrade
March 9, 2003
by D. Damjanovic
- In three months it will be the four year anniversary of the expulsion of
220,000 Serbs, Montenegrins and other non-Albanians from their ancestral
homes. Their property has been usurped by Albanians. In the same period
Serbs and Montenegrins sold about 15,000 houses, apartments and
businesses. The number is large but taking into account all that Serbs own
in the Province it is not cause for concern. Sales were especially
intensive during the first two years, after the expulsion of people from
their homes. Without a dinar in their pocket, housed in collective
centers, many were forced to sell at drastically reduced prices what had
taken decades to acquire. The Albanians took advantage of the situation.
Using blackmail and the threat "we'll get it for free in the end", they
managed to secure the property of others for next to nothing. "Albanians
are still living in 21,000 out of a total of 36,000 houses and apartments
owned by Serbs and Montenegrins. Many of them have no intention of either
returning or paying for property illegally appropriated. It is a
well-known fact that the international community built new houses for all
Albanians whose homes were destroyed in the war. Thanks to this
generosity, almost every third Albanian family or 39,000 of them, have a
new roof over their heads," says Dr. Cveta Vujicic, a member of the Return
The illegal occupants of apartments in urban settlements are primarily
from rural areas. Among them is a significant number of former members of
the KLA. Many of them claim that this is "war booty won in battle against
the Serbian army and police". Data from the International Committee for
Human Rights cite 2,127 cases where Albanians have usurped three, four or
five apartments and houses each.
If the Serbian Government Coordinating Center with the help of the
international community speeds up the return of expelled persons, Serbs
and Montenegrins really have a place to return. In Sirinicka Zupa, on the
slopes of Mt. Sara, there are more than 20,000 Serbs. The situation is
similar in nearby Sredacka Zupa, where a significant number of Serb
"People in Brezovica are building houses and businesses. Many of those who
would like to return but cannot to their destroyed homes are only looking
for an are of land [100 square meters] to set up house here. None of us
who stayed is even thinking of leaving," says Jovica Buduric, political
activist and director of the Narcis Hotel in Brezovica, where business is
In this area Serbs won political power in the last elections, as they also
did in Kosovsko Pomoravlje, the Gracanica region and in four
municipalities in the north of Kosovo and Metohija.
The Albanians are now caught in the middle. While some propose that they
"begin sales negotiations" with Serbs as soon as possible, so that fewer
Serbs return, others tell them not to worry because there will be no
In all this confusion there were also some Serbs who profited well. There
are those who are taking advantage of the "undefined situation" even
"I lived in the YU program building for returnees in Pristina. When I went
to Belgrade, I left my apartment to an engineer, a Serb man from Suva
Reka. He falsified the ownership documents and rented the apartment to a
Russian for two full years for 1,500 euros per month. My wife passed away
while in exile and now I am facing a court battle to prove ownership,"
complains Nebojsa Radosevic, a former sports trainer for Pristina Soccer
Club, whose generosity backfired.
In both the nearby university settlement and in the YU program building,
where apartments are rented chiefly to foreigners, few of the posh
dwellings have been sold.
"We know who sold their house for good money. Those who decide not to do
the same have two choices: to continue to collect good rent or to sell
them to Serbia and, in addition to "state monetary compensation", we build
them new ones in Zvecan," says Ranko Djokic, the secretary general of the
rector's office at the University of Kosovska Mitrovica.
Be as it may, the remaining Serbs, some 130,000 of them, do not want to
leave Kosovo and Metohija. An equal number want to return to their
ancestral homes. Albanians who took advantage of their misfortune will
have to explain themselves before the international community, believes
Dr. Gojko Savic, member of the Kosovo parliament presidency. He says that
the international community will have to establish the true situation in
the Province, including the unlawful appropriation of Serb-owned property.
Many of the Serbs who were pressured to sell their apartments and houses
have filed complaints with UN representatives, requesting either the
difference between the sale price and the real value of the property or
that their property be returned to them for the same amount of money they
got for it.
It's almost spring and with it there is a new determination among the
displaced to complete their questionnaires for return. Just last Friday
the office in Kraljevo with lists for return had over 5,000 Serbs and
Montenegrins wanting to go back, most of them to Metohija.
A Serb civilian
convoy leaving Prizren area under KFOR protection, June 1999. More
than 200.000 Serbs fled the Province seeking protection from
Albanian militant groups which began attacking Serbs and
dissenting Albanians despite NATO deployment. Those Serbs who
remained in their enclaves are under great pressure to sell their
property and leave Kosovo because security and economic situation in
which they live 4 years after the conflict does not offer them much
encouragement for better future
SERB ENTITIES NOT SOLD
In Kosovo and Metohija there are 585,000 agricultural tracts, 300,000 of
them arable. Most of the land in the two parts of the Province a group of
U.S. congressmen have defined in the "partition balance" as Serb
"territories" are owned by Serbs.
"There are indications from Washington that a Serb entity would comprise
parts of Metohija - Decani, Pec and the Patriarchate, Ibarski Kolasin and
the whole of northern Kosovo adjacent to Serbia," says Milivoje Ribac,
head of the Pec region. A few days ago, he and a group of compatriots from
Kraljevo, met with the UNMIK administration in Pec regarding the return of
5,000 Serbs as early as this spring.
In the Kosovo part of the Province, according to this principle, the Serbs
would get Kosovsko Pomoravlje, Sirinicka Zupa and Sredacka Zupa on Mt.
Sara, and the valley around Gracanica, where Serbs remain most numerous.
In both parts of Kosovo and Metohija, Serbs have sold a practically
insignificant number of arable tracts. They primarily sold "small land
tracts" along the main highways.
MORE VALUABLE THAN GOLD
Not long ago Albanians were offering Serbs and Montenegrins in Metohija up
to one million German marks per hectare [2.5 acres]. In Gracanica, for
example, for one are they are ready to pay more than 15,000 euros. Even
though their property has been illegally appropriated, few people from
Metohija agreed to this deal. Statistics indicate that most Serbs in rural
areas own an average of five to ten hectares of land.
centers, except the north edge of the Province, are almost
completely ethnically clean Albanian at the moment. Despite presence
of the UN Mission and KFOR Kosovo has never been more monoethnic in
its long history. Paradoxically, the main goal of the NATO
intervention in 1999 was to preserve multiethnicity and
prevent ethnic cleansing.
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