PRISTINA – Participants in a demonstration organized by Kosovo’s opposition parties and civic organizations in Pristina Saturday urged Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa to have Aleksandar Jablanovic removed from his ministerial position and to ensure enactment of a law converting Trepca Mines into a public enterprise that would be controlled by Pristina.
Shouting the slogan “Jablanovic out! Trepca is ours,” demonstrators gathered in front of the National Library in Pristina, where they started a protest walk down to the Kosovo government building, where the organizers of the protest addressed the gathering.
After the rally ended, a small group of protesters pelted the government building and broke the glass in some of the windows, prompting a police intervention which included the use of tear gas. They also attacked Serbian TV crew (video).
A police cordon had been set up in front the government headquarters before the rally began. The police had earlier informed the public that the protest’s organizers had not provided the authorities with a notification of the protest in the way prescribed by the law.
The rally was organized by the Self-Determination Movement and the Mothers’ Appeal Association, with the support of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, the Initiative for Kosovo and students of Pristina University.
Self-Determination leader Aljbin Kurti spoke the last. Acting on behalf of the organizers, he gave an “ultimatum” to Prime Minister Mustafa to dismiss Jablanovic and have a law on the Mining, Metallurgical and Chemical Combine Trepca adopted by 4 p.m. Monday.
Otherwise, Kurti and leader of the Initiative for Kosovo Fatmir Limaj said, a new demonstration would be organized on Tuesday and the people would not stop protesting until the government of Kosovo stepped down.
Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo Ramus Haradinaj said that the protest was a sign of Kosovo lacking economic development and a policy that would lead to progress.
On January 15, the government of Kosovo adopted amendments to the law on public enterprises, which should enable it to take over 100 percent of all ownership and management rights in the Trepca Combine, and to take over some other companies.
The Serbian government reacted sharply to Pristina’s intentions, warning them that it would not allow the seizure of Serbia’s public property, and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic immediately informed Western partners (Quint countries) and the EU about it.
The proposed amendments to the law on public enterprises were debated under emergency procedure at an extraordinary session of the Kosovo Assembly on December 19.
Former giant Trepca, in which the Republic of Serbia Development Fund holds a 56 percent stake, while the rest is owned by several Serbian companies and employees, was taken out of the proposed document at the last moment.
Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said that the government in Pristina was seeking not to have the Trepca case debated because as it had not been aware that Trepca was EUR 1.4 billion in debt, and proposed the enactment of a special legislation to deal with the Trepca issue.