On the eve of the anniversary of the start of mass riots in Kosovo targeting Serbs, Hashim Thaci claimed that he “felt ashamed” because of those events.
“Then, in 2004, what least should have happened, happened to Kosovo. Something happened that led to Kosovo embarrassing itself,” said Thaci, who is now Kosovo’s president, and added:
“The endangering of churches happened, the burning down of several of them, several have been burned down. Myself, personally, if you ask me, I have been ashamed because of those actions both then and today.”
He made the comments on Thursday in conversation with Serb media in Caglavica, and stressed that the violence 13 years ago was carried out “by individuals, who will be punished.”
“Whoever did this, will be punished. It is not an Albanian tradition to endanger cultural and historical monuments, property, to set houses on fire, to endanger children, women, the elderly. Such acts will always be punishable. I really don’t want that to ever repeat,” Thaci said, according to the public broadcaster in Kosovo, RTK.
He also “promised that institutions will work so that such violence never happens again.”
In Belgrade, Director of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric spoke for Serbia’s state broadcaster RTS to say that out of deference toward the victims, he “did not wish to comment on Thaci’s statement” – and then underlined that it was “precisely Thaci and those like him who are responsible for those events and for the rivers of Serbs exiled from the southern Serbian province.”
Djuric said that the situation is similar in Kosovo today to what it was 13 years ago, and that “fake reasons and fabrications” are being used to exert pressure on Serbs and attack them.
Kosovo is a post-conflict area where the least number of people have returned to their homes – “fewer than in Rwanda” – Djuric said.