Kosovska Mitrovica, 8 July 2008 – The construction of a water network in the village of Suvi Do, near Kosovska Mitrovica, has been stopped on Tuesday.This came after another day of violence yesterday between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, when one Serb suffered serious injuries. UNMIK chief Lamberto Zannier is reported to have demanded a halt to the works there.
Mayor Bajram Rexhepi, who controls the southern part of the divided town, said today that he talked to Zanner and asked for assistance in reaching an agreement to continue with the construction, but also when it came to future cooperation.
The Serb villagers, in a statement to state broadcaster RTS last night, were calling the works on the water pipeline “an attempted land grab”, designed to pass through their land although they say this is not necessary.
At the same time, although the pipes are planned to be laid in their land, the Serb villagers would not be able to use the water from this system.
Today, Rexhepi confirmed that Zannier asked for the works to be stopped “for the next four or five days” in order to find a solution and enable the project to be realized.
The Albanian official said that he agreed to this, but also asked that the issues of construction of a school and reconstruction of the Doktorska Mahala neighborhood in northern Kosovska Mitrovica be solved at the same time.
Ethnic Albanians and Bosniaks live in the northern, Serb-dominated part of town, but no Serbs live in its southern, Albanian half.
Rexhepi today called on Suvi Do residents to maintain peace, so that the water project could be finalized.
He at the same time said the Serb reaction was organized by “illegal parallel Serb structures” that came as a result of the May 11 elections, that are “attempting to be indirectly recognized by the Kosovo authorities and international community”.
Zannier meets Serbs
UNMIK chief Lamberto Zannier met Tuesday with representatives of Kosovo Serb political parties during his first visit to northern Kosovska Mitrovica.
Zannier expressed his wish to cooperate with Serbia, Coordinator of G17 Plus for Kosovo-Metohija Stojanka Petković said.
The Italian diplomat at the helm of the UN mission in the province “realized that no lasting solution can be found without involvement of Belgrade and the Serb community”, she said, adding that Serb party officials informed him they do not consider Kosovo status resolved.
Serbs do not accept Kosovo independence and expect resumption of negotiations on a lasting compromise solution within the framework of the UN Security Council and its Resolution 1244, Petković said.
“Serbs will continue to work to that end and the Serbian government made this commitment as soon as it was constituted, in keeping with the constitution,” according to her.
Agreement was reached on future cooperation and on holding frequent meetings to resolve specific problems troubling the Serb community, she said, adding that Zannier promised he would brief Kosovo Serb representatives on any contacts with Belgrade.
The meeting with the UNMIK chief was also attended by representatives of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Democratic Party (DS), New Serbia (NS), Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), and Serb Radical Party (SRS), as well as of the Serbian Orthodox Church dignitaries.