As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.
The Serb list: Kurti failed to provoke Serbs and present himself as a victim
While protests against violence continue to take place in Serbia, Kosovo is on the verge of losing the very few privileges it has gained from the international community. The north of Kosovo lives in a parallel reality, where conflicts and rising tensions seem to be the only political option.
On the eve of Kurban Bayram, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, along with Interior Minister Svecla, headed to the north of Kosovo to visit members of the Kosovo police near Kroi and Vitakut, including recently released police officers who were previously arrested by Serbian forces at the border. In the same period, the Serbian part of the population celebrated a holiday, Vidovdan, and overlapping of these occasions provided enough material for political scorings on both the Kosovan and Serbian political sides. Accordingly, the news appeared to be covered in multiple media outlets under different contexts and comments.
Namely, Albin Kurti, as reported by Kosovo Online, celebrated Bayram with Becir Sefa, Rifat Zeku and Sema Mustafa, three police officers, who were arrested by the Serbian armed forces on June 14 for illegally crossing the border, while Prime Minister Kurti claimed that they were kidnapped, and unfairly held hostage for 13 days. As they continued the tour of the police forces, Kurti and Svecla visited the areas of Kroi, Vitakut, and the Belvedere camp in the southern part of Mitrovica. In regards to the given occasion, the Serb List stated that “Kurti tried to collect cheap political points by pretending to be a leader, and instead of salaries, jobs and economic development, he offers his voters conflicts, brutality, violation of the rights and freedom of the Serbian people”. Kurti’s visit is characterized in a further statement by the Serb List as a pure provocation of the people during the Vidovdan holiday. As reported by Tanjug, “he is doing this in order to show the chief mediator of the European Union, Mr. Miroslav Lajcak and the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, what de-escalation looks like on the ground.”
Such situations have become part of the daily life of the people in the north of Kosovo, whether the escalations are generated by Albin Kurti or by Serbian officials. What is certain is that this prevents the further process of reconciliation and integration of the Albanian and Serbian society in Kosovo. If we add to that questionable moves by Belgrade, which also contributed to the escalation, such as the arrival of Danilo Vučić, the son of President Aleksandar Vučić, in Kosovo, who used nationalist symbols on that occasion.
According to the words of President Vučić, Danilo in a T-shirt with the inscription “Surrender is not an option” passed through Pristina on his way to the liturgy at the Gračanica monastery, on the occasion of the Vidovdan celebration. The celebration is traditionally held in Gazimestan, however, the Kosovo police did not allow the celebration, nor any Serbian symbols due to the security situation, which is why the celebration was moved to Gračanica. The president’s son was stopped three times on the way while the car he was in was searched several times, for which President Aleksandar Vučić directly blames Albin Kurti. This statement was immediately denied by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, Xhelal Svecla, calling Vučić a “Chronic liar”, stating that he was stopped once when leaving Pristina, and that the police asked him to take off his shirt, which is considered provocative for all citizens of Kosovo. And to this, of course, the Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petković, reacted immediately, proving with unclear videos that Svecla is a liar.
This case, as previous conflicts on the Belgrade-Pristina line, exclusively serves the propaganda of the political leaders’ own interests on both sides of the administrative line, reducing the space for constructive dialogue and creating a vacuum of objective information in the public discourse. While Prime Minister Kurti carries out escalations and repressive measures against the Serbian people in the north of Kosovo because he believes that this will strengthen the sovereignty of Kosovo, President Vučić’s actions and statements only contribute to the increase of tensions, which as a final result has an increasingly difficult life in the north of Kosovo.
Authors: Đorđe Terek, Tanja Plavšić