Caglavica, 16 July 2008 – A proposal by Belgrade’s Kosovo Ministry to build a new settlement to house Serb returnees under the ‘New Gracanica Project’ is dividing Kosovo Serbs.

The proposal was discussed at Kosovo Serbs’ rival assembly in Mitrovica on how the millions of euros Kosovo is to receive from a recent donors’ conference should be spent.

Three Serb politicians had reservations about the plans at a debate entitled “Serbs and the Donor’s Conference on Kosovo” at the Caglavica Media centre on Wednesday.

Bojan Stojanovic of the Independent Liberal Party said the project is about building a new settlement for Serbs who return to Kosovo.

“For the cost of €672 million it would put some 20 thousand Serbs on around 100 hectares of land, on fertile soil close to the Gracanica enclave,” he said, adding that he believes it would improve the life of the Serbs in that enclave. According to the project work is due to start from January 2009.

But Dragan Velic, leader of Gracanica-based Serbian National Council, is against the project.

“That project is not good for Serbs, especially because it is in the service of realising the Marti Ahtisaari plan,” said Velic, referring to the blueprint devised by the former United Nations envoy for Kosovo’s ‘supervised independence’.

He expressed fears that taking funds from Pristina government might mean that Serbs are recognising Kosovo as a state. Velic also argued the collected donations in Brussels are “not even enough for this project.”

Another Serb politician Momcilo Trajkovic said the plan was ill-conceived but declined to immediately reject it.

“Kosovo Serbs have to realise that the strategic politics on Kosovo is not our business. We have to face reality, and try to improve it. This project is maybe out of time and space, and maybe not planned well enough, but Kosovo Serbs have to consider it seriously,” said Trajkovic.

After Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in February most Kosovo Serbs, like Belgrade took a position of defiance and few participate in Pristina’s institutions.