With the Serbian Government on the verge of signing an agreement that will recognize the independence of Kosovo and in fact expand the influence of and grant legitimacy to Albanian separatists who are in illegal violation of international law in particular with regard to violating the territorial integrity of the sovereign state of Serbia, the Serbian people are angry and protesting the government. Despite their anger they feel hopelessness that their government is not listening. The European Union has dangled the carrot of European integration in front of politicians seeking to improve economic conditions, yet the people want nothing of Europe. John Robles spoke to Jelisaveta Pavlovic about these issues and more.
Hello, this is John Robles. I’m speaking with Jelisaveta Pavlovic she’s a student at Belgrade University in the Law Faculty and a student protest organizer.
Robles: Hello, Jelisaveta, how are you?
Pavlovic: I’m very good.
Robles: The Western media is full of reports that Serbia is going to reach an agreement or has reached an agreement with Kosovo which will legitimize Kosovo. Is that true?
Pavlovic: Yes, this is completely true. During the tenth round of negotiations in Brussels between Belgrade and Pristina a certain treaty with Pristina has been initialed by our Prime Minister Ivica Dacic. And we are aware that it’s going to get signed, and yes, this is the kind of treaty that practically acknowledges the independence of Kosovo.
Robles: I understand it could be stopped if the president decides to veto it. Is there any chance of that happening, do you think?
Pavlovic: We don’t know that. The president has not said anything yet and we do not what his reaction might be or what it depends on. We don’t know what is happening between the parties and the government, between the political parties. So I don’t think that the president will have the will and strength to put a veto on the agreement. No.
Robles: The Western press says that a majority of Serbian people support these moves and want to become a part of Europe. Would you say that’s true or not?
Pavlovic: That is definitely not true! The latest analysis shows that 50% of the people are against going into the European Union and my experience from the streets, because I’m in the streets of Belgrade the whole day promoting the student protests, is that the people are very against going into the European Union and that they’re pretty angry, but at the same time they’re pretty hopeless and this is a strange mixture. But no, people are definitely against going into the European Union, there’s no doubt about that.
Robles: All right, so you’ve got 50% against, at least 50% are against the European Union. What percentage is against granting Kosovo any kind of independence?
Pavlovic: There isn’t an analysis that shows that percentage. I don’t think this it is a coincidence because I think that the truth is vast amounts of people would be against losing Kosovo. There isn’t an analysis that shows that, but if you ask me, it is a vast amount of people, it is a complete majority of people that are against losing Kosovo. I had to say what I think, what are my assessments, I think like 75 to 80% of the people are completely against losing Kosovo, without relating it to the European Union. And I think that larger amounts of people would be against losing Kosovo for the European Union. So no, I think no. There isn’t any chance that the people are for losing Kosovo.
Robles: Do people debate the fact that Kosovo is legally, and has been a part of Serbia and that its seeking independence is illegal in nature.
Pavlovic: No, they’re not debating it. It’s crystal clear subject. Nobody is debating it. The only problem with the people is that they don’t believe anything can be done about it. But if you ask them, none of them has the idea that what is happening now with Kosovo is legal and is according to our constitution, to the resolution 544 or to the whole of international law. No, nobody is debating it. It’s a matter out of debate. It’s a crystal clear subject.
Robles: That’s crystal clear. It’s illegal. How is the government going to deal with the Serbian people if they try to push this through?
Pavlovic: I don’t see what their plan is except for just going ahead and not caring about the consequences, because a lot of people are protesting, a lot of opposition parties, I think almost all of the opposition parties are protesting these days, tomorrow they have announced four different protests by different political parties and the students.
And today there was a preliminary protest in the main square in Belgrade by the opposition political party and only then 3,000 people showed. And this was a preliminary protest. Tomorrow is the main protest of all opposition political parties. So I really don’t know what our government is thinking about and really I don’t understand how they think this can pass.
Robles: How many people showed up today? This was a preliminary demonstration.
Pavlovic: On the preliminary demonstration there were 3,000 people. And this is just by one party, one opposition political party. And tomorrow there will be four opposition political parties protesting. And the students are protesting tomorrow. And today only 3,000 people showed up to one of the preliminary protests. I think there’s a vast possibility that 10 to15 thousand people will go out on the streets tomorrow. So I don’t see what the government thinks about how are they going to control the people, I don’t know.
Robles: So you’re going to be protesting with 5 or 6 political parties tomorrow?
Pavlovic: The students are independent as always. We’re not protesting with them. We have our own location for the protest. We have our own organization. Of course we’re informed about the actions of the other political parties, due to common sense and coordination. But we’re not cooperating with none of them. But the fact is that tomorrow the government is deciding on whether to sign the agreement, the treaty with Pristina.
It’s only logical that all of us go from different places, different locations throughout the city, and go to the government, in front of the government, because there isn’t any place that is more logical to protest the postion of the government than in front of the building of the government.
So eventually the students and opposition political parties will eventually all be in one place, but that does not mean that we are altogether and that we’re cooperating on a political level.
Robles: I see. Listen, if they sign tomorrow, if they decide to sign this agreement, will that be the end of it, or will there be something that can be done further down the line?
Pavlovic: No, no! That will not be the end of it. Even if the government decides to sign the agreement, it has to go through the National Assembly. It has to be verified by the National Assembly of Serbia. And when it is verified by them, that is the end. We are putting great pressure on our government not to sign, and I think if they sign that we will put even more pressure on the National Assembly not to sign the treaty.