Panorama of Pre?evo
Location of the municipality of Pre?evo within Serbia
|Region||Southern and Eastern Serbia|
|o Mayor||Shqiprim Arifi (APN)|
|o Town||22.42 km2 (8.66 sq mi)|
|o Municipality||264 km2 (102 sq mi)|
|Elevation||463 m (1,519 ft)|
|o Town density||600/km2 (1,600/sq mi)|
|o Municipality density||130/km2 (340/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Pre?evo (Serbian Cyrillic: ?, pronounced [prê?e?o]) or Presheva (Albanian: Preshevë), is a town and municipality located in the P?inja District of southern Serbia. It is the southernmost town in Serbia (excluding Kosovo) and largest in the geographical region of Pre?evo Valley.
Pre?evo is the cultural center of Albanians in Serbia. According to the 2002 census, the town of Pre?evo had a population of 13,426 people, while the municipality had 34,904 inhabitants. Albanians form the ethnic majority of the municipality, followed by Serbs, Roma and other ethnic groups.
Serbs arrived roughly in the 6th century, when they first migrated to the Balkans, and by the Middle Ages, Pre?evo was part of the Kingdom of Serbia. According to Stefan Du?an'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 ?upe (counties) of ?egligovo and Pre?evo (modern Kumanovo region with Sredorek, Kozja?ija and the larger part of P?inja). As despot under the rule of Uro? V, Dejan was entrusted with the administration of the territory between South Morava, P?inja, Skopska Crna Gora (hereditary lands) and in the east, the Upper Struma river with Velbuzhd, a province notably larger than during Du?an's life. After the death of Dejan, his province, besides the ?upe of ?egligovo and Upper Struma, was appropriated to nobleman Vlatko Paska?i?. Dejan's eldest son Jovan also received the title of despot, like his father before, by Emperor Uro?. 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 Dejanovi? 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.
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 Pre?evo. 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 along with Balli Kombëtar subsequently took over the area. In mid-November, the Partisans forced the Balli Kombëtar to retreat.
In 1992, the Albanians in the area organized a referendum in which they voted that Pre?evo, Medve?a and Bujanovac should join the self-declared assembly of the Republic of Kosova. However, no major events happened until the end of the 1990s.
During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, a total of 161 depleted uranium bullets have been recovered in Reljan near Pre?evo in southern Serbia. The Serbian government has funded the cleanup operation of the Reljan site with 350,000 euros.
Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, and nearby Kosovo War which lasted until 1999, between 1999 and 2001, an ethnic Albanian paramilitary separatist organization, the UÇPMB, raised an armed insurgency in the Pre?evo Valley, in the region mostly inhabited by Albanians, with a goal to occupy these three municipalities from Serbia and join them to the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosova.
Following the overthrow of Slobodan Milo?evi?, the new Serbian government suppressed the violence by 2001 and defeated the separatists. NATO troops also helped the Serbian government by ensuring that the rebels do not import the conflicts back into Kosovo.
Today, Pre?evo is located in the P?inja District of southern Serbia.
According to the 2002 census results, the municipality of Pre?evo has 34,904 inhabitants. While the 2011 census was made, there was undercoverage of the census units owing to the boycott by most of the members of the Albanian ethnic community in the municipality of Pre?evo and neighboring municipality of Bujanovac.
According to the census conducted in 2002, Albanians form nearly 90% of the municipality, and over 95% of the town. Most of the remainder of its inhabitants are Serbs, who are mainly concentrated in the settlements of Ljanik, Svinji?te, Slavujevac and Cakanovac. The rest of the settlements have an absolute Albanian majority.
The ethnic composition of the municipality:
Since December 2005, the leader of the Albanian Democratic party (PDSH) Ragmi Mustafa became the president of the municipality. He was several times re-elected and served as the president of the municipality until 2016.
On 7 March 2017, the President of Albania Bujar Nishani made a historical visit to the municipalities of Pre?evo and Bujanovac, in which Albanians form the ethnic majority. Three days later, Ardita Sinani became the president of the municipality of Pre?evo, following the resignation of Shqiprim Arifi due to the termination of the municipal coalition.
On 21 November 2012, the municipality council of Pre?evo erected a stele in the center of the town honouring members of the former UÇPMB, who died during the Pre?evo Valley Conflict from 1999 to 2001, causing a public outcry throughout Serbia. The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ivica Da?i?, said about this incident: "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 were 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 Pre?evo Ragmi Mustafa said that the stele shows the identity of the Albanians in the region and announced that it would end the cooperation with national authorities of Serbia if the monument were removed. Serbian Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vu?i? 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 Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK), threatened armed conflict if the institutions of Serbia removed the memorial plaque. The former U.S. diplomat, United Nations regional representative of Kosovska Mitrovica Gerard Gallucci said: "Serbs, do not fall for provocations like this with the memorial plaque in Pre?evo". President of the National Assembly of Serbia Neboj?a Stefanovi? 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 Pre?evo Valley, Jonuz Musliu, which has one seat in the Parliament of Serbia, said that the stele would not be removed. However, the stele was removed 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 "Pre?evo and Bujanovac will be a part of Kosovo." Ragmi Mustafa, Pre?evo'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 and a minister in Serbian government Rasim Ljaji? responded and said that the Pre?evo 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 ?akovica. 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 Gora?devac, were the monuments of the Serb victims of the NATO bombing in 1999, and the Serbian children who were shot at the Bistrica river by Albanians in 2003, desecrated and destroyed. Thousands of Pre?evo citizens rallied on 21 January 2013, to protest the removal of the stele dedicated to Albanian guerrillas. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Da?i? 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 organizationVetëvendosje 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 a memorial plaque from the World War II in Vitina with a crane, and were not prevented by the Kosovo Police. Till the evening of 21 January over 140 Serbian gravestones were destroyed throughout Kosovo, burned a chapel and several crosses. Subsequently, representatives of the United States, European Union, as well as the OSCE, KFOR and EULEX, 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.
The Abdulla Krashnica Culture Center (Shtëpia e Kulturës "Abdulla Krashnica") is the home to various culture events in Pre?evo. Its complex includes the town library, music hall and theater. Pre?evo organizes the annual "Netët e komedisë" (The nights of comedy), a one-week festival with comedy shows from all the Albanian-speaking territories. The festival was first organized in 1994.
There are some natural heritage sites in Pre?eva Valley like: (Shpella e Ilincës), (Shpella e Arushës), (Trungu i Çarrit), (Burimi i ujit në Banjke), (Ujëndarësi i Preshevës). There has been some criticism, and Arsim Ejupi in his work Kërkime Gjeografike from 2013, claims that until now there were no activities regarding the protection and management of this natural heritage sites, and that this situation is a result of lack of capacities in local government and NGOs regarding the professional treatment of environmental issues. He considers that only with active participation of these actors it can be realized protection and sustainable management of natural heritage in Pre?evo Valley and the development of ecotourism in the region of Pre?evo Valley.
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|a.||^ In the municipality of Pre?evo there was undercoverage of the census units owing to the boycott by most of the members of the Albanian ethnic community.|