Albin Kurti: Vetevendosje ‘not immune from male chauvinism’

Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti spoke on Jeta ne Kosove about the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, the ‘Special Court,’ and sexism within Vetevendosje.

Albin Kurti, the newly-elected leader of Vetevendosje, the biggest opposition party in Kosovo, told BIRN on Thursday that he believes that Serbs were behind last week’s murder of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic.

Ivanovic, the leader of Kosovo Serb civic initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice, was shot outside his office in North Mitrovica on January 16.

“There might be two explanations,” Kurti said in an interview with BIRN’s TV show Jeta ne Kosove, implying that Ivanovic’s murder could have been a Serb show of strength, intended to send a message to Kosovo’s institutions.

“On one hand there’s the explanation that Serbia wants to show – lest anyone in Kosovo thinks otherwise – that the north of Kosovo can ever be Kosovo, and that it is a place where not only Serbia rules, but its state security structures rule, because the murder was clearly carried out in a very professional manner,” he explained.

Ivanovic was seen as a political moderate in Kosovo who advocated coexistence between its Serb minority and Albanian majority, but he was also standing trial for allegedly ordering the murder of Kosovo Albanians in Mitrovica in 1999.

“Another explanation could be… because many witnesses [at the trial] who saw Oliver Ivanovic as part of different paramilitary formations,” suggested Kurti.

He speculated that Ivanovic might have had information about other perpetrators of wartime crimes, and “could have been eliminated by someone” as a result.

In the interview, Kurti also spoke about the ongoing attempt by MPs from the ruling coalition to revoke the law that enabled then establishment of the Hague-based Specialist Chambers, which will try former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters for wartime and post-war crimes.

Vetevendosje has opposed the Specialist Chambers, but has not clarified whether or not it will vote to revoke the law, and has claimed that the ruling coalition parties are simply putting on a show to distance themselves from the new court, which is highly unpopular in Kosovo, where many see it as an attempt to denigrate the KLA’s wartime struggle against Serbian forces.

Kurti said that the coalition MPs’ initiative is not serious or honest because, he claimed, President Hashim Thaci “is not going to remove the Special Court from Kosovo, but is going to remove his name from the court.”

Kurti said that Vetevendosje will hold more discussions about the issue to work out the party’s official stance before the proposal to revoke the law goes to parliament for a vote.

Currently however Vetevendosje is more preoccupied by serious internal problems, with the resignations of a group of dissatisfied members posing its biggest challenge in its 12-year history.

But cracks within the party emerged in December when a newspaper published text messages sent to a group of Vetevendosje MPs, revealing heated internal arguments and insults from MP Aida Derguti directed at Kurti.

Kurti said that the cause of the disagreements is Vetevendosje’s organizational structure, which had not developed alongside the party.

“I found with that in Vetevendosje, we have elaborated our political concept and discourse extensively, but not the theory and organizational practice. I tried to discuss it with others, we had disagreements, we had differences, but there was also some kind of resistance to this issue being raised in Vetevendosje,” he said.

Kurti also raised another problem, partly blaming sexism for the fact that although Vetevendosje has many female supporters, a smaller percentage of women actually work for the party.

“One of the reasons… I’m not saying that it’s the only one, is because the Vetevendosje offices have not had any immunity from unacceptable expressions and male chauvinist communications to women and girls who they put in a kind of position of embarrassment in work spaces that were inappropriate for them,” Kurti said.

Kurti said the party needs a code of ethics to address the issue.

“Vetevendosje is like our society, and in our society there is a lot of sexism that can be transformed into a violation of moral integrity and the abuse of women and girls, and this is so widespread, commonplace, normalised,” he explained.

Die Morina - Balkan Insight 26/01/2018 - 14:22

26 January 2018 - 14:22

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