Kosovo remembers 45 victims of 1999 Racak Massacre

Balkans
Tue, 16 Jan 2024 7:17 GMT
President Osmani, Speaker Konjufca, Premier Albin Kurti laid flowers at monument and observed a minute of silence in ceremony attended by international representatives and many Kosovars.
Kosovo remembers 45 victims of 1999 Racak Massacre

Kosovo on Monday remembered the victims of the 1999 Racak massacre, one of the largest massacres of the 1990s war and widely regarded as a watershed moment in NATO's intervention in the country.

A commemoration ceremony marked the 25th anniversary of the brutal murder of 45 Kosovo Albanians by the Yugoslav army and paramilitary units in the Racak village of Stimle Municipality because they "aided the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)."

The ceremony was attended by President Vjosa Osmani, Parliament Speaker Glauk Konjufca, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, ministers, international representatives working in the country, and many Kosovars.

Leaders laid flowers at the monument and observed a minute of silence.

"We are here not only to remember the victims of Slobodan Milosevic's (then-President of Yugoslavia in 1999) genocidal regime but also to renew our call for justice. Justice gives meaning to peace and freedom, and it is necessary for reconciliation,'' said Osmani.

Prime Minister Kurti also spoke on the occasion, condemning Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for failing to recognize the Racak Massacre and apologize for what the country did 25 years ago.

The massacre is remembered with events taking place throughout the day in various cities.

Racak Massacre

The Racak Massacre, which occurred on Jan. 15, 1999, is considered a turning point in NATO's international intervention in Kosovo.

The then Chief of Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo, William Walker, described what he saw as "the saddest event in my life" when he visited the village with many media representatives one day after the massacre.

"From what I have seen, it is obvious that we are faced with a massacre and a crime against humanity,'' said Walker.

Walker's remarks in Racak sparked widespread outrage in the international press, and NATO's air and ground intervention against Serbian troops in Serbia and Kosovo began in March 1999, about two months after the massacre.

Walker, as a witness to the Racak Massacre, is known to have prepared a book with the support of the Kosovo government.

Although the massacre occurred 25 years ago, only Serbian police officer Zoran Stojanovic was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) judges.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic describes the Racak Massacre as "fiction."

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