Kosovo’s prime minister faces criticism over commemorative message for slain Serb politician

Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians protested Monday against Prime Minister Albin Kurti's commemorative message for a murdered Serb politician.

Kurti's message marking the fifth anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic's death was protested by the children of the martyrs of the former Kosovo Liberation Army in front of the Prime Minister's Office in the capital Pristina.

The participants shouted slogans against Kurti and carried banners that read: "History doesn't change,” "Prime minister, don't provoke us," and “Don’t glorify the criminals.”

Kurti in his message said he wished the memory of Oliver Ivanovic to remain alive.

The killing of Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb politician, on Jan. 16, 2018 in the city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo escalated tensions between ethnic Albanians and the Serb minority in the region.

He was assassinated in a drive-by shooting.

The 64-year-old was one of the key politicians in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, a former Serbian province.

Ivanovic, who commanded Serb paramilitary groups in the war in Kosovo, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2016 for crimes committed against Albanian civilians during the war. The Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2017 and ordered a retrial.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade insists the country remains part of Serbia. Since then, tensions have remained between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and a small Serb minority in the north.

It is recognized by over 100 countries, including the US, the UK, France, Germany and Türkiye.

Serbia, Russia and China are among the countries which have not yet recognized Kosovo’s independence.

Source: Anadolu Agency