'We Will Demand The Integration of Kosovo into FRY,' Ivanovic
11 December 2001
PRISTINA, 6 December (Stina)--In internationally organized general elections held on 17 November, Oliver Ivanovic--one of the political leaders of Kosovar Serbs--was elected a representative in the Kosovo parliament. The "Return" coalition of ethnic Serbian community in Kosovo won 22 out of total 120 seats in parliament and Ivanovic will be one of its two representatives. Since the beginning, Ivanovic favored participation of ethnic Serbs in the elections, condemning the boycott proposed by some Serbian political organizations. Saying that general elections were held "under harsh conditions" but "technically well carried out," Ivanovic announced that the wide ethnic Serbian coalition will lobby for integration of Kosovo into Yugoslavia, despite being in the minority compared to ethnic Albanians. Stina interviewed Oliver Ivanovic.
Stina: How would you rate the Kosovo elections on 17 November?
Oliver Ivanovic: They were held under harsh conditions. There were no conditions for democratic preparations and election campaign. Even so, we accepted participation at the elections, having in mind their importance and possible consequences due to our boycott. Taking into account all negative remarks, elections were technically carried out well.
Stina: Are you satisfied with the results of the "Return" coalition?
Ivanovic: "Return" is a coalition made out of several parties and civil initiatives. I am satisfied with the election results, although it could have been better had conditions been better. Also, regarding the decision of Belgrade authorities to suggest voting didn't come clearly and on time, some our analyses show that we could have won additional four to six seats thus making us second-strongest parliamentary group. Then we would have three members of the parliament presidency and much greater influence on general parliamentary work.
Stina: Monitors think that the ethnic Albanian response to elections was below expectations. How do you interpret it?
Ivanovic: There are several factors for it. First of all is the disappointment of ethnic Albanian people with the position of the international community regarding independence. The international community is more or less clear on that issue - independence of Kosovo is not an option. The only issue is what does "important autonomy" written in Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council mean. The second reason is that the ethnic Albanian population wasn't interested in elections because many of them satisfied their ambitions and turned to business. The third factor is a reasonable doubt that there are not so many ethnic Albanians registered.
Stina: You were elected as one of the two ethnic Serbian representatives in presidency of the future Kosovar parliament. Do you expect to have normal working conditions?
Ivanovic: I doubt it. We are aware of the problems facing us, but we are also aware of the importance of the tasks ahead, so we will neither be dismayed nor discouraged.
Stina: Have you been offered a post-election coalition by representatives of ethnic Albanian parties, either officially or off-the-record?
Ivanovic: Still nothing. We are open to cooperation, but only with democratically inclined parties, meaning those that rule out independence of Kosovo as the final solution to the problem.
Stina: Will somebody from your coalition accept membership in the future Kosovar government?
Ivanovic: Certainly. According to the constitutional framework, we are entitled to at least one ministerial post. Which it will be and who will be candidates will be decided with the constitution of the government.
Stina: In your opinion, who stands biggest chances of becoming Kosovar president?
Ivanovic: It is obvious that Ibrahim Rugova, leader of Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, has the most supporters, but it is not enough to be completely sure he'll get elected.
Stina: Will the "Return" coalition have a united approach and vote?
Ivanovic: We believe yes it will because there are not different viewpoints on the situation we're in, both us ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo and ethnic Serbs living in refugee camps.
Stina: Which are the main political demands of your coalition representatives?
Ivanovic: Our priorities are security; freedom of movement; return of the refugees; the problem of missing and kidnapped persons; as well as economic development -- as a condition for full integration of all people in Kosovo. However, we are also in favor of direct connection with Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska, as part of the general integration process ahead of us.
Stina: Do you believe that your demands and struggles will meet support from other parliamentary representatives, especially non-Albanian, who also have a significant number of seats?
Ivanovic: I am almost certain that they will share our views, but we will probably have a block of ethnic Albanian parties against us. They will most probably govern by nationalistic ideas and not by democratic attitudes so a representative from the international community should give his attention to it.