What has changed after January 16, 2018?

Within the project of Center for Civil Energy financed by Kosovo Foundation for an Open Society, a debate was held in Mitrovica Social Club on topic "What has changed after January 16, 2018", in which the panelists were Ksenija Bozovic - vice president of CI "Serbia, Democracy, Justice", Budimir Nicic - president of the Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo, and Miodrag Milicevic - Executive Director of the NGO "Aktiv ".

Ksenija Bozovic emphasized that, even a year after there was a deafening silence and that the truth was important to find, both because of Oliver Ivanovic and the future of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. She added that people still felt the fear and pressure.

Miodrag Milicevic pointed out that the situation was quite alarming and that it was accompanied both by the noticeable trend of people leaving Kosovo and collective apathy. "I would not dare to claim that the situation will substantially improve in the years ahead," he said, underlining as an important the fact that the issue was not forgotten and that it was necessary to keep it in the spotlight.

"This is a political murder, and every political murder has its own goal and message. This was a message to politicians, perhaps even to the followers of Oliver Ivanovic or to the ordinary citizens that something like that might happen to them," said Nicic. He emphasized that the media should not allow this topic and this case to be swept under the rug, because "the life goes on, but the question is how".

Commenting on the Trend Analysis - a research conducted by his organization in the past three years, the director of the NGO "Aktiv" stated that, in comparison to the previous two years, half the number of people this year feels free to express their political views and this is why we should seek for the core of this problem.  According to the same research from 2017, Oliver Ivanovic was undoubtedly the most popular politician in Northern Kosovo, Milicevic said. "It is very important to mention the fact that a high number of people do not trust any politician in the North of Kosovo, and that number is 88%" Miodrag added.

Noting that, despite the mutual accusations of Belgrade and Pristina, no one has provided any concrete evidence yet, Nicic explained that "what they did for a year about this murder was nothing but a pure sidetracking of the public." He said that everything seemed like a political trade to him and that the murder would not be solved by the current authorities in Pristina and Belgrade. In this context, he believes that an independent international expert commission should be set up to deal with the murder case. Miodrag Milicevic mentioned the lack of institutional will, calling it a crisis of confidence in the institutions of the system in dealing with such cases, and undertaking a comprehensive, thorough reform of the judicial and police system, which, as he says, obviously are not functioning.

"If the system functioned, we would not have a tabloid investigation between Belgrade and Pristina today, but a fundamental one, with the prosecutor who would inform the general public about what is happening and what the consequences are", he explains.

Ksenija Bozovic said that the investigation was heading in the wrong direction and was unprofessionally guided from the very beginning, adding that "the murder of Oliver Ivanovic killed the hope that this could be a normal, democratic society".

The president of the Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo pointed out that Oliver believed in the system because he was a responsible man, thinking that everyone should behave responsibly in the positions they are in.

"Killing a man who represented an alternative to primitivism, arrogance, and - I would say – violence, is a tragedy for one society," said Nicic, adding that there will be no democracy until the institutions of the rule of law start doing their job. Also, he claims that the existence of democracy is conditioned by free media, a good part of which is not free, particularly the most influential ones.

"There have been the same people ruling In Serbia and Kosovo in the past 20-30 years, and I am skeptical about experiencing some kind of freedom and democracy in the near future", Nicic concluded.