Belgrade, 29 July 2008 – Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović announced the adoption of a feasible strategy for the return of Serbs to Kosovo.Minister Bogdanović and representatives of Serb municipalities in Kosovo (Tanjug)

The strategy will be based on the economic strengthening of areas populated by the Serbs, he added.

“The return process has so far been minimal and haphazard. We have to do everything we can to make it a lasting one so that all the returnees and Serbs who survived and stayed there after 1999, grow economically. It is unacceptable to let them live on social welfare and charity that comes from Belgrade,” Bogdanović, DS, told Beta news agency in an interview.

The minister said that for this to happen, jobs must be created, opening small and medium businesses and stimulating Serbian companies to invest in Kosovo.

“It is very important to correct the abuses of position in the employment process,” Bogdanović said, and added that he had already told municipal officials that they could no longer employ people without proper procedure.

Bogdanović also said that in the near future, he would send a request to the municipalities to do a check up of the list of employees.

“It is necessary to determine who these people are, where they live – to see whether they live in Kosovo or not. We do not know the exact number of employees who work in the municipalities, we do not know the exact number of those who are getting bonuses. We also don’t know whether there are deceased listed among them, or people who work more than one job,” he said.

The minister added that seven to eight percent of the total money sent to Kosovo comes from the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, while the rest comes from the ministries in charge of health, education, culture and finance. He added that all the possible irregularities will be investigated jointly.

Bogdanović also said that it was possible that there were certain irregularities, since “around EUR 500mn from the Serbian budget are sent to Kosovo”.

The minister added that the entire budget of Kosovo was EUR 670mn and that EUR 470mn went to the infrastructure projects and the local power company, while the rest was used for salaries.

He explained that he did not expect problems in cooperation with Serb municipality leaders in Kosovo who belonged to parties in opposition to the DS-led cabinet on the state level.

“Kosovo cannot be a party issue, and it cannot be used as a mean of gathering political points. It has to be a state issue. Both the ministry and I will do everything we can to cooperate with all the representatives of Serb municipalities and with every organization that respects Serbia and think of it as their country,” Bogdanović said.

The minister expressed his conviction that in time UNMIK would realize it could only cooperate with the legitimate representatives of the Kosovo Serbs, elected in the local elections held on May 11.

The churches and monasteries destroyed by ethnic Albanians will be rebuilt with the help of the ministry, Bogdanović said, in the interest of Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo. He also pledged support “for all projects important to the Serb Orthodox Church and its worshippers”.

Source: Beta/B92