Serbians angry at Trump family deal for site of Nato bombing

Published March 25, 2024
Belgrade: A tram rides past the bomb-damaged building which was the old site of the Yugoslav army’s headquarters.—AFP
Belgrade: A tram rides past the bomb-damaged building which was the old site of the Yugoslav army’s headquarters.—AFP

BELGRADE: A bombed-out building in Belgrade, which has stood as a national symbol of the 1999 Nato strikes on Serbia, might soon become a luxury hotel financed by Donald Trump’s son-in-law — much to the anger of locals.

Jared Kushner, who also served as an adviser to his father-in-law during his US presidency, confirmed in mid-March his plans to invest in luxury real estate in Serbia, including the old site of the Yugoslav army headquarters.

Serbian opposition member of parliament Aleksandar Jovanovic Cuta and an investigation by the New York Times revealed that the Serbian government was going to transfer the building and the surrounding land to a company owned by Kushner.

Leaked plans indicated the building will be replaced by three large glass towers a few metres from the Serbian defence and foreign ministries.

The 99-year lease was given to Kushner’s company free of charge, the New York Times said. The sale of the building is a sensitive issue for Serbians as it has become an emblem of the 1999 US-led Nato aerial bombing campaign that put an end to the war in Kosovo.

“Leaving it like this for another 200 years isn’t really a solution,” retired journalist Srdja Nikolic said. “But I am against the idea of giving it as a gift to anyone — particularly to those who initiated what happened.”

The bombing began on March 24, 1999, without the approval of the UN Security Council. It aimed to end Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

It ended in June that year with the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo, putting an end to the conflict that killed more than 13,000 people.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2024

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