Pristina, 1 September 2008 – The Kosovo government started Monday to build a collective center close to the capital Pristina for displaced ethnic Serbs willing to return and restart their life in Kosovo, which is predominantly populated by ethnic Albanians.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and the only Serb minister in his government Boban Stankovic set up the foundation for 2 million euros (2.9 million U.S. dollars) worth complex of three buildings designed to be the home for 60 Serb families.
Thaci described the move as Kosovo’s commitment to help their citizens return in the territory, appealing to displaced persons to return.
I call for all displaced persons to return in new Kosovo. It is safe for all. Kosovo has a bright perspective and it is the motherland of all its citizens,” said Thaci in the Serb-dominated village of Lapnaselo.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17 this year despite the strong opposition of Serbia and Kosovo’s Serbs.
Over 100,000 Serbs left their homes during and after 1999 war in Kosovo. Most of them went into the Serbian proper and the others gathered in northern Kosovo and enclaves within the territory. A small number of them returned to their homes despite numerous calls from international and Albanian leaders to do so.
The donation for Lapnaselo buildings is offered by the Kosovo government. Stankovic said it is the first step of a big project designed to enable displaced Serbs return to Kosovo. It is predicted to be complete in a period of 7 to 8 months.
Stankovic, the Kosovo minister for return and communities, said the project’s goal is to make possible for all displaced Serbs interested to return to their homeland.
“I’m aware that displaced Serbs are waiting to come back for nine years. Today’s foundation of this building show that it won’t be as it was before — waiting only,” said Stankovic.