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12 Dec, 2008 03:25

Serbs fear future in Kosovo

The European Union has deployed its controversial new police and customs mission in Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February. The move has angered the minority Serbs in the region, who are worried about their interests and

EULEX, The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, was initiated by the UN Security Council and is a continuation of the EU presence in Kosovo.

Serbia and Russia have both declared the UN presence illegal and EULEX is currently in the region on a neutral peacekeeping basis.

Karin Limdal, spokesman for EULEX, says that the main objective is to supervise institutions in the region and help fight crime.

‘The chief task of EULEX is to supervise, instruct and advise institutions in Kosovo. This means that our policemen, judges, prosecutors, customs officers and others shall work together with their local partners on a daily basis. The covering reports shall be made and discussed with the officials in Brussels and representatives of the local institutions in order to point to the segments to be improved,“ says Limdal.

The EU mission is perceived as a step forward for some, while the Serbs in the region feel that it is merely another attempt at cementing Kosovo’s independence.

One man in particular feels that the UN and now EULEX are only there for the protection of the Albanians. Milorad Trifunovic, co-ordinator for the Association for kidnapped and missing Serbs in Kosovo, saw his brother and ten of his colleagues go missing when the war ended almost a decade ago.

“There are 586 Serbs still missing today who we know nothing about. EULEX has to solve this problem first before they do anything else. The United Nations did not help us at all. After the war, ten years ago, a peace agreement was signed that said everybody in Kosovo should be protected – regardless of their nationality. That is not happening,” Trifunovic said.

Trifunovic says that Serbs don't feel safe even in the Serbian enclave of Kosovska Mitrovice.

”When night comes people don't care what name is protecting them – EU, K4, UN. For them, they're all occupiers in different uniforms. They feel like prisoners in their own homes," Trifunovic says.

While the fight continues, some are harking back to a time when the whole region was united.

Milentije Perovic, a Serbian living in Kosovo, remembers the days when Josip Tito was in power. He collects memorabilia from the time when the Balkans were part of a united Yugoslavia and fondly recalls when the Slavic peoples were one.

“If Tito were alive today he wouldn't live long. It would destroy him to see what has happened to his country,” Perovic says.

“The worst thing the world did was help the former Yugoslavia fall apart. I don't care too much about EULEX. It would be better if people looked to live together and not to put up borders.”

With EULEX approved to monitor all areas in Kosovo, it remains to be seen if the Serbs concerns will be satisfied.

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