Albanians buying Kosovo Serb property to complete "ethnic cleansing" – official
BBC Monitoring - October 20, 2004, Wednesday
Excerpt from report by N. Zejak: "Exorbitant sums offered for Serb houses", published by Serbian newspaper Blic on 10 October
Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija are beset with offers to sell their houses, land and apartments. Many of them are deciding to sell all they have and move out of Kosmet Kosovo-Metohija for good. The buying up of Serb-owned property stopped only briefly after the violence in last March and has picked up again ahead of October's parliamentary elections.
Nenad Radosavljevic, adviser to the Kosovo administrator on the return of displaced people, says that this is a way of "completing the job which began with the March violence".
The rise in the offers has been the result of an undefined position on Serbs' participation in the elections, as well as the announcement by UNMIK UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo that, on the formation of the assembly and government, it would devolve powers to the Kosovo institutions even in areas so far reserved for the Kosovo administrator. Added reasons why Serbs are deciding to move out are the delay in the reconstruction of houses demolished during the violence of March and their fear of a repetition of violence.
Everything is for sale. Agents are vying against each other for putting deposits on the remaining free plots of land owned by Serbs along arterial roads. Passage omitted
In Ajvalija, the price of 100 square meters of land has reached an astronomical 12,000 euros. In the Vitina area, 100 square meters of land fetches about 2,500 euros, while in the Gnjilane area, where there are no available plots of land left along the arterial roads, the price is down to about 3,000 euros per 100 square meters. Along the Urosevac road, the sale is on of the so-called second class land, which means plots of land that do not front the main road. The prices range between 3,500-5,000 euros, depending on whether the land is on the side of the Lipljan municipality or the Urosevac municipality. These prices are only for farmland sold at first hand. Intermediaries, lawyers and so-called real estate agencies, which have offices also in Gracanica, charge a commission of at least 25 per cent on this sum.
"Everybody is selling. There is no family that is not involved in negotiating prices," Caglavica local community leader Ljubomir Denic says, adding that 19 children moved out of Caglavica during the summer. "We have nothing to hope for any more; we have nothing left to do. We used to live off agriculture and stock farming, but today we only have five heads of cattle. Everybody is going to Belgrade," he says, adding that everybody knows that "no newly made Belgrade resident" had left their native Caglavica, Laplje Selo and Preoci with "less than 1-3m euros in their bags". In Caglavica, two houses destroyed in the violence of March and rebuilt since, have even been sold for 750 euros per square meter.
In Kosovo Polje, deposits are being put down on reconstructed houses and the price goes up to 350 euros per square meter. According to Professor Zivorad Lazic, the money is coming from the United Arab Emirates and through the powerful Albanian mafia in the West.
"In giving their grants, donors set the condition that the money must be spent on buying a house, an apartment or a plot of land owned by a Serb in an area where houses destroyed in the March violence are being rebuilt. The idea is to complete the job of ethnic cleansing in urban areas," Kosovo Minister of Agriculture Goran Bogdanovic says, adding that, after the March violence, there are only 13 schoolchildren left in Obilic and barely a dozen in Kosovo Polje. Next year, these two towns are certain to go the way of Pristina, Pec, Prizren, Urosevac and Gnjilane, where there are no Serb children left and, if the selling continues, there will be no Serb-owned property left, either.
[Box Pristina, Gnjilane, Pec "bought up"]
There are no more apartments for sale in Pristina, Gnjilane or Pec. All "available" apartments whose owners did not have to prove their tenancy rights through the Habitat Directorate have been sold and the price of those "in dispute" is up to 500 euros. According to the Coordinating Centre's estimates, there are still about 100 "disputed" apartments and a score of houses left in Pristina. In the University Housing Estate, there are only seven houses and 12 apartments left out of 158 houses and 73 apartments given to Pristina University professors on temporary leases in the 1996-98 period. There are no plots of land available any more in the localities of Caglavica and Ajvalija, where Kosmet Serb political representatives, Assembly deputies and officials from the Slobodan Milosevic era mostly lived or had their holiday homes.
SOURCE: Blic, Belgrade, in Serbian 10 Oct 04 pp 8,9
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BBC Monitoring Europe - Political
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