Oliver Ivanovic, leader of a Kosovo Serb party Freedom, Democracy, and Justice, and former Serbian state secretary for Kosovo and Metohija, was killed near his office in the city of Mitrovica on Tuesday morning. The incident prompted Vucic to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Serbian National Security Council.
"The thing that we agreed upon during the National Security Council session – we have already sent a letter to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo [EULEX] and the United Nations [Interim Administration] Mission in Kosovo UNMIK with our demand to allow the Serbian state bodies to participate in the investigation on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija," Vucic told a press conference after the council's session.
Belgrade’s participation in the probe into Ivanovic’s assassination will contribute to figuring out truth about the murder, Vucic continued, adding that the perpetrators of the killing will be held accountable.
The Serbian president also expressed doubts about the Kosovar authorities’ capability to solve the crime. Belgrade does not trust the Kosovar investigators, but hopes that they will carry out their work in the case of Ivanovic’s murder professionally, Vucic added.
Ivanovic’s murder prompted withdrawal of Belgrade’s delegation from the talks on normalizing relations with Pristina, which were scheduled to be held on Tuesday for the first time in more than 12 months.
In response to the move, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj accused the Serbian authorities of attempting to undermine the dialogue.
Vucic said during his press conference that Belgrade had always been ready for negotiations with Pristina, and would reengage in talks as soon as the Kosovar authorities would identify Ivanovic’s killer.
The Serbian president noted it was pointless to hold talks amid repeated threats of war and military conflicts in Kosovo and Metohija.
Ivanovic faced retrial in Kosovo on war crimes against ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo War in the 1990s. The politician denied all the charges, saying that the case was politically motivated.
The Kosovo War of 1998-1999 between the ethnically Kosovar Albanian forces and the former Yugoslavia, then consisting of Serbia and Montenegro, ended after the UN-backed international intervention following NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia’s forces.
In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia. Even though over 100 UN member states have officially recognized Kosovo, Serbia, alongside Russia, China, Israel and several other countries, did not recognize the move.
The parties subsequently engaged in the UN-backed talks to normalize relations.