Buehler: I cannot stop construction of bridge over Sitnica
16. August 2011. | 12:54
KFOR Commander Erhard Buehler said Monday evening in his address to residents of the village of Priluzje in Kosovo-Metohija that he cannot stop the construction works on a bridge across the Sitnica River but for reasons of security he can secure constant presence of KFOR in that area.
KFOR Commander Erhard Buehler said Monday evening in his address to residents of the village of Priluzje in Kosovo-Metohija that he cannot stop the construction works on a bridge across the Sitnica River, which is supposed to connect this village of the Vucitrn municipality with other villages populated solely by Albanians, but for reasons of security he can secure constant presence of KFOR in that area.
I have no jurisdiction either to build a bridge or stop its construction. It is the municipality's right to build the bridge, Buehler said.
Buehler also told the residents of this village that they should tackle concrete issues, and if they have security concerns, he will be there to help them.
I can establish a constant presence of KFOR in your village, and your neighbours have also pledged that there will be no problems, said the KFOR commander.
Out of fear of possible provocations, Serbs have requested from the KFOR commander to stop the construction of this bridge, or to move it more to the north, towards Vucitrn.
Buehler reiterated that he can guarantee security, but that he cannot stop the construction works on this bridge.
The residents of Priluzje staged Monday a one-hour protest against the commencement of construction works on the bridge over the Sitnica River, which is supposed to connect them with a dozen of Albanian villages situated at the foot of the Cicavica mountain.
They are against the building, because they have security concerns, recalling that prior to the 1999 conflict, while the bridge was still functional, they had numerous problems with Albanians from Glavotina and other villages.
The Serbs from Priluzje announced that they will continue with protests Tuesday.
Around 2,500 Serbs live in Priluzje, and several thousand Albanians in the foothills of Cicavica. The Serbs in Priluzje oppose the construction of the bridge, since they are afraid of possible provocations and attacks of Albanians, said residents of this village. The people living in this village have also discussed the matter with KFOR Commander Erhard Buehler.
"Buehler did not know what problems could arise with the construction of this bridge, and we told him that if he wants Priluzje to stay in Kosovo, that bridge should not be built.
If that bridge is built, it will disturb the fragile peace that we have managed to establish," said Vucitrn Mayor Zoran Rakic.
Buehler will discuss the construction of this bridge with representatives of the Kosovo institutions, and then he will inform Serbs about the outcome of these talks. Awaiting Buehler's answer, the Serbs in Priluzje announced that they will Monday block the road leading towards the Sitnica River, where the machines for bridge construction are expected to pass.