From: Exit Staff
EU to Investigate Allegations over Albanian Depopulation in Southern Serbia

The European Parliament has called for an independent investigation into allegations of depopulation of ethnic Albanians of southern Serbia’s Presevo Valley over the past four years.

“[The European Parliament] Is deeply worried about the allegations that the Serbian authorities are abusing the law on the residence of citizens and the ‘passivization’ of residential addresses of citizens of Albanian ethnicity living in southern Serbia in a systematic and discriminatory manner; calls for independent and thorough investigations into these allegations and on the Serbian authorities to cease all discriminatory practices and targeting,” reads the resolution adopted on March 25.

These accusations were made public by Flora Ferati-Sachsenmaier for Exit News through her article “Serbia is Depopulating Presevo Valley from Albanians at Alarming Levels” published on May, 2020.  

“In the last four years alone, Serbian authorities have purged more than 4,000 Albanians from the Civil Registry in the municipality of Medvegja in southern Serbia. Planned by the highest political circles and executed by the Serbian Ministry of Interior (MUP), the removal of Albanians from the Civil Registry is precipitating a major humanitarian and political crisis in the Presevo Valley, a predominantly Albanian region along the border with Kosovo,” she wrote.

According Ferati-Sachsenmaier, this removal is systematic, politically motivated, and accomplished by abusing the Law on the Residence of Citizens, which Serbia adopted in 2011.

“Known also as the “passivization of residential addresses,” this discriminatory measure is disproportionally applied against the Albanian minority in Serbia, particularly in the three municipalities where Albanians vastly outnumber ethnic Serbs,” she wrote.

In November 2011, Serbia adopted the Law on Residence of the Citizens. Serbian political circles, as well as international diplomats in Belgrade, welcomed the passage of this law, stressing that, among other things, the law would help to clean up the voter lists.

“They enthusiastically insisted that the law would prevent vote-rigging and Serbian democracy would be strengthened. Little did these international diplomats know that this very law would be turned into a mechanism to remove the Albanians from the Presevo Valley,” Ferati-Sachsenmaier wrote.