We can see the warnings he was receiving as signs along the road, although it seems that they do not lead to the answer to the question why they killed him and even less to those who ordered the murder. As always, the same thing happened this time, on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, nobody heard anything, nobody saw anything.
An old lady who went to buy bread in the morning, saw the corpse when returning home, on the street in the city centre.
Oliver Ivanović, president of the political party of Serbs in Kosovo, was literally riddled in front of the office door. The executors were well aware of his schedule of movement and his habits. So was this Tuesday morning. Everything was prepared.
A stolen, totally average vehicle, the Opel Astra, whose owner has been dead for several years, as well as weapon, a 9 mm calibre pistol that is abundant in Kosovo’s underworld. Ivanović, as they said later, had no chance of surviving, the killers shot him at all vital points of the body.
The murder was planned. The date of the murder was not accidental; it was also chosen as a warning message to others.
Kosovska Mitrovica is a divided city connected, between Serbs and Albanians, only with a single bridge. The northern, Serbian part of the city is not very large, it covers some two and a half square kilometres. It is fitted through with security cameras. One can probably not even make the slightest step, without it being recorded somewhere. So it was that night or very early morning four years ago, on January 16, 2014.
Dimitrije Janićijević, a deputy in the city assembly, a candidate for mayoral elections, Ivanović’s friend and politically like-minded, was killed with a 9 mm calibre pistol in front of his house in Rudarska ceta Street. Janićijevic had three children, and his wife was in late pregnancy at the moment with the fourth. Samuel Žbogar, then the EU’s highest representative in Kosovo, when expressing his condolences to the family, said that the entire case should be clarified and resolved immediately. The assassination was immediately condemned by everyone in one way or another related to the situation, with, in terms of security, uncertain, socially completely dangerous and politically unstable conditions in Kosovo. Ivanović spoke at a funeral in Janićijević’s home village, near the town of Zvečani. He asked himself and the mourners which question is so important that because of a different answer, it is necessary to kill a young man. And he added that everyone who justifies the violence must think about it, because, as he said, a small violence raises a big one and ends with murders. With never resolved murders.
Of course, the killers were not found. However, it was then heard for the first time, and that was the first sign along the road, that the murder of Janićijević was simultaneously a warning to Ivanović to go, move or at least forget about politics and dedicate himself to his profession. Only a few days later he was arrested and detained. EU judicial authorities in Kosovo accused him of war crimes. They stated that, as a member of the Serbian paramilitary units, in 1999 and 2000, he organized the torture and killing of the Albanian inhabitants of Kosovska Mitrovica.
Sometimes, certain things simply cannot be placed next to each other. I personally was surprised, I simply could not connect Ivanović and his work to Ivanović who tortures and kills people only because they speak a different language, have a different culture and believe in another god. He was convicted and later partially acquitted, and partly the trial was cancelled and returned to the starting point. Ivanović was released in June last year. He returned home.
As if he has forgotten about the warning, he announced that he would run for the mayor of Kosovska Mitrovica at the local elections in late October. In Belgrade, the news was perceived as a possibility of divisions and fragmentation of Serbian votes in Kosovo. In one of the interviews, he explained that his candidacy could only frighten those criminal structures linked to politics who knew they could lose the elections if voters had the option of alternatives. As well as that in the previous elections, exactly this alternative was lacking, because he was in prison, and Dr. Dragiša Milović, a renowned doctor and his political partner, did not run at that time. Immediately after that, on July 26 last year, Milović’s car was burned down. My impression is, Ivanović said, that this is only the answer to his socializing with me and that the Albanians did not do it, that it is primarily a political message for me not to run for office. He estimated that during the time he was in prison, the conditions in the city worsened. That people are afraid of local Serbs, criminals, who ride in jeeps without plates and are untouchable. That drugs are sold at every corner and that in the last couple of years, there have been a lot of burning of cars and attacking with hand grenades, which all remained unresolved. It is tragic that after eighteen years of life with the fear of extreme Albanians, now Serbs are afraid of extreme Serbs and for that reason emigrating, he explained.
Two more days later, another vehicle was burnt. Oliver Ivanović’s car. It was the third sign along the road. And it was completely understandable. Several candidates from his election list withdrew their consent for candidacy on the same day for business, health or family reasons.
During the summer of last year, Serbian President Aleksandar made political announcement that Serbia could not become a full member of the European Union until an internationally binding legal agreement on the overall normalization of relations was signed with Kosovo. Vučić spoke about the need to recognize the reality and the factual situation in Kosovo, and that Serbia was not having an effective power in the province for a long time already. In essence, he reminded about the 2012 assessment of German Chancellor Angela Merkel that one of the requirements were the termination of the so-called parallel institutions, the institutions of the state of Serbia in Kosovo.
In September of that year, the deputy of the German ruling party, Andreas Schockenhoff, presented this assessment to the Serbian political public with a message that the Bundestag would not give its consent to the admission of Serbia to the EU without such an agreement. This was followed with conclusion of the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina followed by the start of the Brussels negotiations. Or, as Vučić said last year, late in autumn, without their successful conclusion and legal agreement on mutual relations, we will not become members of the European Union. This meant that Serbia would be obliged, as a new member of the EU, not to stop and block the negotiations of Kosovo when the time arrived.
However, Ivanović assessed the negotiations and the announcement of the internal discussion in Serbia about Kosovo as a good idea, but did not agree with it. He promoted a different solution. I listened to him last October. He talked about the so-called Cyprus model, a certain type of freezing of the Serbian-Albanian conflict and the possibility of full European membership of Serbia together with the province of Kosovo. Therefore, the negotiations of Belgrade and Priština would continue in the EU, and that, until the final agreement, European legislation would not apply in Kosovo, because they would seek the possibility of a different coexistence in Kosovo.
Ivanović’s proposal was politically naive and unachievable. But it was a way to find a solution. Same as Vučić’s decision to start an internal Serbian dialogue on the reality of the conditions in Kosovo and the Serbian abandoning of the Kosovo myth. The murder of Oliver Ivanović is a message that everyone who wants to change Kosovo’s reality is dangerous. Aleksandar Vučić as well.