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Moscow Calls for Thorough Probe Into Murder of Kosovar Serb Politician Ivanovic
17 January 2018, 02:04 | Katrina Lee
Prominent Serb politician and suspected war criminal shot dead outside Kosovo office
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, whose country now holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said on January 16 that he categorically condemns the murder of Oliver Ivanović, a Serb political leader shot dead in Mitrovica earlier the same day.
Officials said Oliver Ivanović, the leader of the Citizen's Initiative Party, was killed in Mitrovica, a city divided among ethnic lines as tensions continue between Albanians and Serbs.
The assassination of Ivanovic - who was facing a retrial on war crimes charges over the 1990s Kosovo conflict - occurred on the very day that Belgrade and Pristina resumed EU-moderated talks on normalising ties after a hiatus of more than a year. He was sentenced to jail but the verdict was overturned.
He had publicly spoken out against Belgrade's policies in Kosovo, which Serbia still claims as a province despite its independence declaration in 2008.
The UN, EU and OSCE missions in Kosovo have resolutely condemned Ivanovic's assassination and demanded an investigation into the crime as soon as possible. He was taken to a hospital but doctors were unable to save him.
Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija, said its delegation was "returning to Belgrade immediately".
The Kosovo government issued a statement condemning the killing, which it said "challenges the rule of law and any attempt to establish order throughout the entire territory of Kosovo".
The EU is hoping that the Serbia-Kosovo talks, which began six years ago, could lead to a binding accord on "normal" relations by 2019, allowing Serbia to enter the EU in 2025.
They called an end to the discussions in protest and Serbia's Office for Kosovo declared the killing a "terrorist attack" which targeted Serbian people. He had been president of the SDP (Freedom, Democracy, Justice) Civic Initiative that ran candidates in local elections in Kosovo previous year.
"It's true that the Serb delegation has suspended the meeting that was supposed to start at 10 due to the murder of Oliver Ivanović".
Both Serbian and Kosovo Albanian officials refrained from explicitly accusing each other of being behind the killing as the worldwide community urged the two sides to remain calm.
The head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Jan Braathu, said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" and considered Ivanovic "among the most prominent Kosovo Serb representatives for nearly two decades".