From: Die Morina van Uijtregt
Dismissal of Ethnic Albanian Health Care Center Director in Serbia Seen as Political

The director of the Health Care center “Presheva” in Presevo, Driton Salihu was dismissed by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Serbia.

“This decision is clearly political, is even more grotesque, because in the extraordinary situation with global pandemics, political games are played in the dismissal-appointing of directors of local health institutions, and this according to the decision of the Minister with ‘dismissal without reason,” the mayor of Presevo, Shqiprim Arifi wrote in a Facebook post.

Arifi explained that Driton Salihu was appointed as director of the Health Care center by the Municipal Assembly in April 2018 and was the only ethnic Albanian heading a health institution in Serbia. The competencies for appointing or dismissal of this position were later transferred to the Ministry of Health, he said.

Arifi added that while Salihu was in his office amid COVID-19 pandemic, Presevo was one of “top 5” municipalities of Serbia for organizing the immunization process.

“In times of pandemic, instead of helping the Health Care center in Presevo with donations such as infrastructure, equipment or medicines, or approving the necessary request of the director Driton Salihu for the construction of a regional hospital for the Presevo Valley, the ministry, on the contrary, dismisses the director without any reason,” Arifi wrote.

He added that with this “arbitrary act”, the Minister of Health is simply exercising his powers, without any criteria.

“[…] especially in this case when he dismisses a director of Albanian nationality […] appointing an acting director of Serbian nationality, for which we ask the Minister of Health for an official explanation for the decision undertaken against the current director of the Health Care center in Presevo, Dr. Driton Salihu,” he added.

He also accuses the ethnic Albanian MP of Serbia’s Parliament, Shaip Kamberi, and the National Albanian Council for not reacting on the issue.

Arifi said that they already informed the international community in Serbia about the “open discrimination” towards ethnic Albanians as a minority in the country.

Presevo is an Albanian-majority town in southern Serbia.