Kosovo authorities have decided to move ahead with the expropriation of property for infrastructure projects of “public interest” in the Serb-majority north, despite widespread protests from local residents.
The Kosovo government made two decisions in an online meeting. The first decision authorized the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure “to carry out preparatory work for determining the potential suitability of one or more parcels of real estate for the realization of ‘Infrastructure Projects for Public Interest’, Cadastral Areas: Dren and Lesak/Leshak, Leposavic Municipality.”
The second decision regarded “the further consideration of the request…for expropriation for public interest of real estate properties, which are necessary for the realization of ‘Infrastructural Projects for Public Interest’” in the areas of Leposavic and Zubik Potok.
Local residents in the village of Dren in Leposavic protested earlier that day against the planed expropriation of their properties.
On 16 January, Kosovo’s government declared a number of “real estate properties of special public interest, which are necessary for the realization of ‘Infrastructural Projects for Public Interest,’” in the areas of Dren and Lesak villages in the Serb-majority municipality of Leposavic.
Residents responded by protesting against the expansion of a road in Dren.
According to local media outlet Kosovo Online, protesters were only temporarily successful in halting work on the road.
Kosovo Online cited one local Serb resident as saying, “it is not enough that the machines have been turned off and the work has stopped. We want the machines and members of the Special Police Unit to withdraw. The decision should be canceled and let us live our lives in peace, as we have lived until now.”
The Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party Srpska Lista responded to the issue on Facebook, saying party leader Goran Rakic had “sent a letter of protest to the ambassadors of the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, as well as the chiefs of EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo EULEX, (UN mission in Kosovo) UNMIK, OSCE, as well as to the commander of (NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo) KFOR.”
Property in north Kosovo was “being seized by illegal expropriation by the government of Albin Kurti,” Srpska Lista said.
The party criticized the move as “institutional violence and stealing of Serbian land from Serbian owners. At the same time…everyone is called to urgently stop these illegal actions and prevent further endangering the peace, legal and physical safety of our people by Albin Kurti’s regime.”
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