Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Leading Serb politician is shot dead in drive-by shooting in Kosovo

Prominent Serb politician and suspected war criminal shot dead outside Kosovo office Serb politician in Kosovo shot dead
Andrew Cummings | 17 January, 2018, 02:07

Oliver Ivanovic was one of the key politicians in the Serb-majority northern part of the region.

Prominent Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic was shot dead in a brazen drive-by shooting on Tuesday that sparked fears of a resumption of ethnic tensions in the volatile region.

Ivanovic, the victim, was the head of a small, moderate political party called the Citizens Initiative, but he was also fighting war crimes charges in court.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 10 years after the bloody conflict between Serb forces and Kosovar-Albanian rebels. The conviction was overturned a year ago and the case sent back for retrial.

Ivanovic served as a member of Serbia's government from 2008 to 2012, where he was, in spite of Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, state secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo.

The Kosovo government condemned the killing. Doctors there did everything they could to rescue him but to no avail.

"We are terminating the negotiations", the Serb delegation said on Twitter on Tuesday (16 January) before returning from Brussels to Belgrade.

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"We urge all sides to avoid unsafe rhetoric and remain calm at this sensitive time, and recommit themselves to continue the work toward the normalization of relations and improvement of the lives of the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia", the United States ambassador said.

It was "an attempt to push the Serbian people into chaos, to push Serbia into chaos", he added.

"We know that in recent days the Serbs were threatened with a war by Veseli and other Albanians", Marko Djuric said in a separate video file posted on the website of Tanjug.

But in February previous year, a Pristina appeals court quashed the sentence and ordered a retrial for Ivanovic, who had been in detention since his arrest in January 2014.

The bridge-watchers were often involved in ethnic violence in the early post-war period, after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air strikes drove out Belgrade forces accused of killing and expelling Kosovo Albanian civilians in a counter-insurgency campaign. Serbia does not recognize the split and EU-mediated talks have been underway in a bid to normalize ties.

Ivanovic was a strong advocate of trying to reconcile the two nations and both sides now fear that his death will complicate efforts to soothe tensions. Ivanovic entered politics and became known for advocating dialogue and compromise with Kosovo Albanians, while still rejecting Kosovo's sovereignty.

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