|City and municipality|
Location of the municipality of Preševo within Serbia
|• Mayor||Ragmi Mustafa|
|• Municipality||264 km2 (102 sq mi)|
|Population (2011 census)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Area code||+381 17|
Preševo (Serbian Cyrillic: Прешево, pronounced [prêʃeʋo]; Albanian: Presheva, Preshevë) is the southernmost city and municipality of Serbia, bordering Republic of Macedonia to the south, and Kosovo to the west. It is the largest city of the Preševo Valley, and the cultural center of Albanians in Serbia.
According to the 2002 census, the town of Preševo had a population of 13,426 people, while the municipality had 34,904 inhabitants. Albanians form the majority of the municipality, with over 90%, followed by Serbs, Roma and other smaller ethnic groups.
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In the Middle Ages, Preševo was part of Serbia. According to Stefan Dušan's charter to the monastery of Arhiljevica dated August 1355, sevastokrator Dejan possessed a large province east of Skopska Crna Gora. It included the old župe (counties) of Žegligovo and Preševo (modern Kumanovo region with Sredorek, Kozjačija and the larger part of Pčinja). As despot under the rule of Uroš V, Dejan was entrusted with the administration of the territory between South Morava, Pčinja, Skopska Crna Gora (hereditary lands) and in the east, the Upper Struma river with Velbuzhd, a province notably larger than during Dušan's life. After the death of Dejan, his province, besides the župe of Žegligovo and Upper Struma, was appropriated to nobleman Vlatko Paskačić. Dejan's eldest son Jovan also received the title of despot, like his father before, by Emperor Uroš. In the new redistribution of feudal power, after 1371, the brothers despot Jovan and gospodin Konstantin greatly expanded their province. Not only did they recreate their father's province but also at least doubled the territory, on all sides, but chiefly towards the south. Ottoman sources report that in 1373, the Ottoman army compelled Jovan (who they called Saruyar) in the upper Struma, to recognize Ottoman vassalage. As Prince Marko had done, also the Dejanović brothers recognized Ottoman sovereignty. Although vassals, they had their own government. In the Wallachian victory at the Battle of Rovine (17 May 1395), both Marko and Konstantin died. The provinces of Marko and Konstantin became Ottoman.
From 1929 to 1941 Preševo was part of the Vardar Banovina. During the April War the Kingdom of Yugoslavia capitulated after 12 days of war against the Axis Powers. On April 20, Bulgaria occupied part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, including Preševo. The royal authoritarian dictatorship of Bulgaria occupied the area until September 7, 1944, when they handed the area over to Nazi Germany. The Albanian collaborationist regime Balli Kombëtar subsequently took over the area. In mid-November Yugoslav partisans forced the retreat of the occupying Albanian forces.
|This article is outdated. (November 2011)|
Ethnic groups in the municipality
The population of the Preševo municipality has, at close to 90%, the highest percentage of ethnic Albanians, excluding the disputed territory of Kosovo. Most of the remainder of its inhabitants are Serbs.
Settlements by ethnic majority
Most settlements in Preševo municipality have an absolute Albanian majority. The exceptions are the villages: Ljanik, Svinjište, Slavujevac and Cakanovac, where Serbs compose an ethnic majority.
Also, most villages have more than 90% Albanian population, but there are some settlements in which the Serbs of Preševo Valley live and where they form a significant minority: Buštranje, Golemi Dol, Reljan, Strezovce, Trnava, Čukarka, and the town of Preševo.
In 1992, the Albanians of the area organized a referendum in which they voted that Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac should join Kosovo. Between 1999 and 2001, an ethnic Albanian paramilitary separatist organization, the UÇPMB, operated in this region with a goal to occupy these three municipalities by force of arms from Yugoslavia and join them to a future independent Kosovo. The activities attracted less international media interest than the related events of Kosovo War and the 2001 insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia. The terror was quelled down by the Yugoslav army, in an operation that did not take a long time, and in which NATO troops helped by controlling that the terrorists did not flee the action back into Kosovo.
Since December 2005, the previous president lost in his seat and was replaced by the Albanian Democratic party (PDSH) with leader Ragmi Mustafa. After six months, the population again voted and again Ragmi Mustafa was chosen as Municipal President of Preševo for the next four years. On 13 May 2008, the population again voted and again Ragmi Mustafa was chosen as Municipal President of Preševo for the next four years. On 10 May 2012, the population again voted and again Ragmi Mustafa was chosen as Municipal President of Preševo for the next four years, with 42% of votes.
Stele controversies 2012–2013
The situation was tense, because on 21 November 2012, the local city council of Preševo illegally erected a stele in the center of the town honoring members of the former separatist paramilitary organisation UÇPMB, who died during the Preševo Valley Conflict from 1999 to 2001. The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, said about this incident that: "It's best that they remove it themselves, because this is a needless provocation, nowhere else in Europe memorial plaque can be erected to those who are members of terrorist organizations and those who are directly involved in the murders of police officers and soldiers". He called for the removal of the stele to 17 January, then several Albanian politicians and organizations responded with criticism. Mayor of Preševo Ragmi Mustafa said that the stele shows the identity of the Albanians in the region and announced that would end the cooperation with national authorities of Serbia if the monument is removed. Serbian Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vučić announced that they will act in frame of the law in connection with the controversial stele, and that no one can act against the for all the same applicable constitution and seeks the reason in ethnicity. He added that Serbia wants peace, but will respond to any provocation.
Deputies of the Assembly of Kosovo Rexhep Selimi and Nait Hasani, a former member of the paramilitary separatist organization UÇK, threatened with an armed conflict if the institutions of Serbia removed the memorial plaque. The former US diplomat, United Nations peacekeeper and UN regional representative of Kosovska Mitrovica Gerard Gallucci said: "Serbs, do not fall for provocations like this with the memorial plaque in Preševo". President of the National Assembly of Serbia Nebojša Stefanović explained that it is unacceptable that in Serbia there is a memorial plaque to a terrorist organization and those who killed the citizens of Serbia. He added that is not an ethnic conflict, but the problem is the honoring of those who killed Serbs with a memorial plaque in Serbia. Nevertheless, a member of the Coalition of Albanians of the Preševo Valley, Jonuz Musliu, which has one seat in the Parliament of Serbia, said that the stele will not be removed. However, the stele was removed without prejudice by a bulldozer which was guarded by members of the Serbian Gendarmery on 20 January 2013. Despite threats from various Albanian Nationalist organizations, there were no incidents during and after the removal.
As a first reaction, the former commander of UÇPMB, Orhan Rexhepi, made the separatist statement that this is a "historic day", because "Preševo and Bujanovac will be a part of Kosovo." Ragmi Mustafa, Preševo's Mayor, confirmed shortly afterwards that the Albanians want a union with Kosovo for a long time. The former president of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, the reigning Serbian minister of home and foreign trade and telecommunications, as well as the current President of the Social Democratic Party of Serbia (SDP), the Bosniak Rasim Ljajić responded and said that the Preševo valley will not be part of Kosovo or may be because the Albanian representatives from southern Serbia do not have the support of the international community, he also warned against the exploitation of the situation by the Albanians. The operation of the Serbian police broke into the local population from turmoil. During the day, several hundred people gathered at the site of the stele laid flowers and candles in memory of the fallen UÇPMB members. The Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced that "the Albanian government calls the international institutions to stop this action", even though the U.S. had already announced earlier that it is an internal affair of Serbia, which should solve their elected representatives.
On the evening of 20 January, a group of Albanians who protested against the removal of the stele gathered in Djakovica. Some of them tried forcibly to enter in the Serbian monastery of the Holy Virgin, where several nuns still live, but the attack would prevented from strong associations of the KFOR. On the night of 21 January, it overlapped to the Serbian enclave Gorazdevac, were the monuments of the Serb victims of the NATO bombing in 1999, and the Serbian children who were shot at the river Bistrica[disambiguation needed] by Albanians in 2003, desecrated and destroyed. geschändet bzw. zerstört. Thousands of Preševo citizens rallied on 21 January 2013, to protest the removal of the stele dedicated to Albanian guerrillas. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić said that there was no reason for any kind of protests, the illicit stele was not destroyed, nor was violence used. He added that "not believe that in the United States, Al-Qaeda veterans, or those who have carried out several terrorist attacks in London or Paris, would decide whether a memorial stele should be built." The Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced during a press conference in Tirana, that Albania would review its relations with Serbia, if that is necessary. He also stated that the Albanian government will do everything in his power to help the Albanians in Serbia. Albin Kurti, leader of the Albanian radical organization Vetëvendosje said instead, that the most responsible for this situation is more likely in Kosovo, the government of Hashim Thaci.
In response to the removal of the stele, dozens of Albanians, led by former UÇK veterans, destroyed in Vitina a memorial plaque from the Second World War with a crane, which reminiscent on the anti-fascist struggle of the Serbs, and has not been prevented from attending the Kosovo Police. Till the evening of 21 January were destroyed throughout Kosovo over 140 Serbian gravestones, burned a chapel and several crosses. Subsequently, responded the representative of the USA and EU, as well as the OSCE, KFOR and EULEX, and sharply condemned the destruction of Serbian monuments and tombs. They added that there is no justification for this violence, and that such actions were totally unacceptable.
A total of 161 depleted uranium bullets have been recovered in Reljan near Preševo in southern Serbia. The Serbian government has funded the cleanup operation of the Reljan site with 350,000 euros.
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- Историско друштво НР Србије 1951, pp. 20-21:
према повељи манастиру богоро- дичимог ваведења у Архиљевици,50 држао као своју баштину пространу област иеточно од Скопске Црне Горе. Она је обухватала старе жупе Прешево и Жеглигово (данас кумановски крај са Средореком, Козјачијом...
- Mandić 1986, p. 161:
У повељи манастиру Архиљевици, издатој ав- густа 1355. године, Душан на три места каже: „Брат царства ми севастократор Дејан". Именица брат има вишеструко значење. Најодређеније је оно примарно: рођени брат.
- Fajfric, 42
- Mihaljčić 1989, p. 81:
Дејанова баштина — жупе Жеглигово и Прешево — простиру се између Пчиње, Јужне Мораве и Скопске Црне горе. Источно од Жеглигова и Прешева, око горњег тока Струме са Велбуждом, простирала се „држава" севастократора Дејана
... старе жупе Жеглигово (са данашњом Козјачијом, Средореком и највећим делом Пчиње) на истоку и Прешево са једним делом Гњиланског Карадага на западу. Оно се није ограничавало само на кумановски крај — Жеглигово — ...
- Fajfric, 45. Braća Mrnjavčević
- Samardzic 1892 p. 22:
Синови деспота Дејана заједнички су управљали пространом облашћу у источној Македонији, мада је исправе чешће потписивао старији, Јован Драгаш. Као и његов отац, Јован Драгаш је носио знаке деспотског достојанства. Иако се као деспот помиње први пут 1373, сасвим је извесно да је Јован Драгаш ову титулу добио од цара Уроша. Високо достојанство убрајало се, како је ...
- Михаљчић 1975, p. 174
- Историјски гласник Друштва историчара СР Србије 1994, p. 31
- Edition de lA̕cadémie bulgare des sciences, 1986, "Balkan studies, Vol. 22", p. 38
- Ćorović 2001, ch. 3, XIII. Boj na Kosovu
- Ćorović 2001, ch. 4, I. Srbi između Turaka i Mađara
- Šta bi danas rekao Abdulah Krašnica
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