Kosovo won't let Serb officials in, wants genocide apology

ZENEL ZHINIPOTOKU and LLAZAR SEMINI
·2-min read

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would not be allowed to visit the country until he apologized for “genocide” against Kosovo's population.

Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla also posted on Twitter that no entry permission would be granted for Serb officials until Serbians are held accountable for “genocide” in an international court.

“I repeat once again the only and permanent response to all future demands from Vucic and others: there is no permission for you to visit Kosovo if you do not apologize for the genocide committed on our people and until responsible persons of this genocide are held accountable,” she said.

Vucic and other Serb officials have to ask Kosovo's permission before visiting ethnic Serb minority areas in the former Serbian province.

Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, which ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign, left more than 10,000 people dead, mostly ethnic Albanians.

Haradinaj-Stublla reacted following Vucic' presence at the inauguration of a hospital in Belgrade where a mass grave of 744 ethnic Albanians killed in 1999 has been found.

Several mass graves with the bodies of Kosovo Albanians killed by Serb troops during the 1998-99 war have been discovered in various parts of Serbia. Moving victims from Kosovo to Serbia was part of a coverup operation by Serbian authorities at the time to try to hide evidence of war crimes.

Last week the European Union’s mission to ensure the rule of law in Kosovo said human remains that appear to be a mass grave of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo have been found in a disused coal mine in Kizevak in southern Serbia.

Vucic said on Tuesday that Haradinaj-Stublla had asked to be present at the Kizevak works “in order to create a political show.”

Although several of its top military officers have been sentenced by a UN court for war crimes during the 1998-99 war, Serbia has never admitted committing atrocities in its former province.

Meanwhile, an international court based in The Hague, Netherlands has indicted and arrested on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity the former Kosovo president and four other top ex-commanders of ethnic Albanian guerillas who fought for independence from Serbia.

Last week Vucic asked to visit Kosovo but was denied permission by Pristina.

Kosovo-Serbia relations remain tense despite EU-mediated talks on normalization of their ties and efforts from the United States too.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not recognized that.

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Semini reported from Tirana, Albania; Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade.