Assassinated Serb Politician Symbolized Tensions Still Brewing In Northern Kosovo

Assassinated Serb Politician Symbolized Tensions Still Brewing In Northern Kosovo

Ivanovic's murder prompted withdrawal of Belgrade's delegation from the talks on normalizing relations with Pristina, which were scheduled to be held on Tuesday for the first time in more than 12 months.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, whose country now holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said on January 16 that he categorically condemns the murder of Oliver Ivanović, a Serb political leader shot dead in Mitrovica earlier the same day. Kosovo police said they were looking for the attackers, with heavy police presence visible on the scene. That verdict was overturned and a retrial had been under way.

Today's event is influencing the talks between the two negotiating teams, Kosovo and Serbia, who are now meeting in Brussels to continue their peace dialogue.

'He was taken to the hospital immediately, the doctors tried to revive him, but he could not be saved, ' lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic said. Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in February 2008 and has so far been recognised by 108 of the 193 United Nations members states.

With allegations swirling over his role in the war that erupted during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Ivanovic in some ways embodied the kaleidoscopic decades of conflict and distrust in the volatile Balkans - underscored by his ongoing retrial for alleged war crimes during Kosovo's brutal 1998-99 war with Yugoslav and Serb forces.

The Kosovo government, which includes former commanders of ethnic Albanian guerrillas who rose up against Belgrade's repressive rule in the late 1990s, also condemned the attack. While commenting on the incident in a DW interview, he said the vehicle burning had been a "message" aimed to scare him into curbing his political activity.

Humble Independent School District closes due to severe weather
The Jefferson Parish Public School System will close on Wednesday, January 17, as a precaution, officials said this afternoon. The community meetings for school board members Linda Bryant and Kimberly Dove are also canceled for tonight.

The director of Serbia's government office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, told the Serbian Tanjug news agency that Ivanovic's killing was "an act of terrorism".

Ivanovic was considered a moderate who maintained relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union officials even after Serbia lost the control of its former province following NATO's 1999 bombing to stop a deadly Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.

Answering a question on how the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic could influence the dialog with Pristina, Juric said: "What can we talk about now?"

About 120,000 of Kosovo's 1.8 million inhabitants are ethnic Serbs.

In 2016, an EU-backed Kosovo court sentenced Ivanovic to a nine-year jail term after finding him guilty of encouraging the killings of captured ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovska Mitrovica in April 1999.

However, after the assassination, the Belgrade delegation walked out of the talks, according to local media in Belgrade.

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