Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Kosovo (YIHR Kosovo) and Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia (YIHR Serbia) condemn the statements by Veljko Odalović, Secretary General of the National Assembly of Serbia and President of the Commission on Missing Persons and Vladimir Lazarević, convict of war crimes in Kosovo at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Recently, Taliban insurgents, who control nearly two-thirds of Afghanistan, entered the capital of Kabul and occupied the presidential palace. Veljko Odalović stated that after the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan, it means that the Taliban have defeated the United States and the British and all those who have fought against them.

Odalovic said on the Monday morning program on RTS that “wherever the Americans were, they left that country, and Pristina should think about it…”. These statements were joined by Vladimir Lazarević. The latter said that “the US will flee Kosovo as they did in Afghanistan.”

Such statements call for a new conflict and incite hatred between communities. They also instill fear and insecurity amongst Kosovo citizens drawing parallels between Afghanistan and Kosovo.  

We call on the Serbian government and leaders in Serbia to put an end to intimidating statements and to focus on the reconciliation process by working on the processes of dealing with the past. We also call on Serbian authorities to not involve and honor war criminals like Lazarević. Recalling that Vladimir Lazarević was recently honored with the title of honorary citizen in Pantelej Municipality, city of Niš in Serbia.

We believe that normalization of relations will not be possible as long as there is hateful and intimidating language from the current leaders of both countries, and as long as justice for all the victims is not served indiscriminately.

We, as a generation of young people from Kosovo and Serbia, will always be against inciting a new war and in favor of creating ways for reconciliation by educating young people in building peace between the two countries.