“The slaying of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic on Tuesday put a spotlight on new tensions in the Balkans, years after a violent conflict divided the region. Considered a moderate politician, Ivanovic was reportedly shot several times near his office in Mitrovica, a Serb-run city in northern Kosovo.
His death had immediate repercussions, as political talks in Brussels between Kosovo Albanians and the Serbian government were interrupted. Almost 20 years after the Muslim-majority state broke with Serbia and nearly a decade after it declared independence, strain between the two has again intensified and could be further fueled by Tuesday’s suspected murder.
Why is Ivanovic’s suspected murder so far-reaching?
‘He was a voice of moderation and a voice of dialogue,’ said William Nash, a former U.N. civilian administrator in Mitrovica who worked closely with Ivanovic shortly after Serbia withdrew its troops from the region. Nash described Ivanovic as a personal friend. ‘I was there for about eight months. And throughout that time, Oliver was smart and articulate, but also pragmatic,’ Nash said in a phone interview.” (Washington Post)
“The mafia-style shooting of Oliver Ivanovic in front of his party office in Kosovska Mitrovica marks the latest stage of the long-running and bloody conflict between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo.
The 64-year-old Ivanovic originally pursued his ambition of becoming a military pilot, but was forced to give it up after years of training due to a congenital eye defect. He first drew public attention by building an impressive career in karate and winning the Kosovo karate championship.
After the 1999 NATO bombing, Serbia pulled out its forces and thousands of Serbian civilians also fled the province. Ivanovic, still based in Mitrovica, took up a senior position in the newly-formed Serb National Council, where he stayed until 2001. He later served in Serbia’s Kosovo Coordination Center and as state secretary in Serbia’s specially designated Kosovo Ministry. He has also served as deputy in Kosovo parliament.
Unlike many Serbian politicians of his generation, he was fluent in Albanian and English, as well as Italian.
Arrested for war crimes
In 2014, he was detained by Kosovo authorities on suspicion of war crimes. He was convicted, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. Ivanovic had spent over three years in jail before being released.
The politician also set up the “Freedom, Democracy, Justice” Initiative, a political organization active in Serbian-dominated areas in Kosovo. His political activity has led him into conflict with officials in the breakaway nation’s capital, Pristina, but he also occasionally clashed with other Kosovo Serb politicians and powerful figures in Belgrade.
In July last year, he reported that his car had been torched. While commenting on the incident in a DW interview last summer, he said the car burning had been a “message” aimed to scare him into curbing his political activity.” (Deutsche Welle)
“Shyqri Syla, Chief Prosecutor at the Basic Prosecution in Mitrovica, said that two prosecutors are working on the investigation of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder.
‘Oliver Ivanovic’s murder is being investigated by a team of two our prosecutors, Nijazi Rexha and Jova Radovic,’ Syla told BIRN.
He added that they do not have any suspects yet.” (RTK)
“Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, condemned tendencies to use for political purposes the killing of the Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, who was gunned down on Tuesday morning in northern part of Mitrovica.
Addressing media after the meeting of the Kosovo Security Council, Haradinaj said that this crime is a result of illegal involvement of foreign instances in northern part of Kosovo inhabited mainly by Serbs.
Haradinaj said that Kosovo authorities are ready to invite the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) if needed. ‘The Kosovo Police has good relations with many organisations, and we will invite the FBI if needed,’ said Haradinaj.” (Gazeta Express)
‘For the state of Serbia, this is a terrorist act, and we will refer to this act according to that. This is an attack on the Ivanovic family, the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, primarily in the North, and in Serbia as a whole, whoever was taken by a Serb, an Albanian, or a foreigner. A man who was a parent and a husband was killed and he was certainly not someone who called for conflicts between Serbs and Albanians. Regardless of the political differences, I would like to express my condolences to the Ivanovic family and the Serbs in Kosovo,’ said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade at the Extraordinary Press Conference.” (KosSev)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will stay in Kosovo and Metohija on Saturday and Sunday, the Office of the President of Serbia said, and media in Belgrade has reported. Vucic’s visit to KiM was sudden and followed after the murder of Oliver Ivanovic this morning.
Vucic will visit Kosovska Mitrovica on Saturday, and on Saturday evening he will be in Gracanica and Laplje Selo in order, Tanjug reports ,to be and talk to the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.
‘I will be in Kosovo very soon, because I want to talk to the people and see what we can do, even if we do not have effective authority. That’s what I think is important and I just pray for our people in KiM,’ replied the President of Serbia who to a journalist of our portal when he asked him when he will be in Kosovo.” (translated from KosSev)