April 03, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 02-04-03

CONTENTS:

EDITORIAL
FEW SERBS, IF ANY, WILL SHED TEARS WHEN STEINER LEAVES KOSOVO


U.S. STATE SECRETARY VISITED BELGRADE
COVIC: SERBIA CANNOT RENOUNCE KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
BORBA: TRAJKOVIC PROPOSES SERB REFERENDUM AGAINST INDEPENDENCE
SERBS MIGHT WITHDRAW FROM KOSOVO INSTITUTIONS
ARMS CACHE FOUND NEAR KOSOVO, SAYS SERBIA, AFP
KPS TAKING AWAY SERBIAN DRIVING LICENSES AND REGISTRATION PLATES
LIPLJAN: FOUR HOURS OF FREE MOVEMENT FOR SERBS
BLIC: THE STATE HAS FORGOTTEN US
NEW KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY ARREST

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EDITORIAL

FEW SERBS IF ANY WILL SHED TEARS WHEN STEINER LEAVES KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

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ERP KIM Info-Service
Gracanica, February 8, 2003

These days we could witness growing number of Serbian protests against Steiner's decision to transfer some vital administrative authorities to Kosovo and Metohija temporary institutions, dominated by K/Albanians. Serbs think that by this action Steiner is de facto giving attributes of statehood to Kosovo which will seriously prejudice the final status settlement. At the end there will be nothing to discuss with Belgrade, Serbs think. Belgrade Government is aware of this and has already made steps to prevent this process through the UN Security Council. The joint Serbian position is that UN SC Resolution 1244 gives mandate to UNMIK to build substantial autonomy of Kosovo Province within FRY i.e. Serbia-Montenegro, nothing more and nothing less. Serb political leaders on the other hand think that Steiner is pushing forward the concept of so called conditional independence of Kosovo, which is contrary to his mandate. Among Kosovo Serbs there is a full consensus that independence of Kosovo and Metohija would not only make their life here impossible but that it would seriously destabilize the entire region. Four years after the war there is not a single Kosovo Serb (and an objective international) who can believe that independent Kosovo can be anything else but an ethnically clean Albanian state in which hardly any other ethnic group would be able to survive and preserve its identity.

Chief of the Serbian Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija and the vice-president of the Serbian Government, Dr. Nebojsa Covic strongly attacked Steiner's plans and made it clear in his latest statements in press and TV that Serbian Government after the death of Premier Djindjic will not change its position towards independence of Kosovo and building of new statelets in the Balkans. A few days ago Dr. Covic said that any unilateral step leading to Kosovo's independence would sparkle new conflicts and reiterated the position of the late Premier Djindjic that changing of internationally granted borders of Serbia-Montenegro would open many other issues, including Bosnia and Macedonia, which might plunge the Balkans back in the past.

KOSOVO SERB LEADERS UNITED AGAINST STEINER'S PLAN REQUEST HIS RESIGNATION

Although members of the Serb POVRATAK Coalition showed more readiness in the beginning to contest the transfer of authorities and other problems through institutions, in which they still participate, there is a prevailing attitude that further participation in the institutions, in case Steiner insists to realize his plans, will not be possible. Some members of the Coalition, such as Dr. Rada Trajkovic, have already frozen their participation in the Parliament with explanation that Serb deputies do not have mandate from their constituency to work on creation of an ethnically clean Albanian state. Rada Trajkovic and Dr. Milan Ivanovic, the leader of the Serb National Council of North Kosovo, announced public protests in Serbian areas and strongly supported urgent organization of Serb municipalities and municipal units in the north and east of the Province as an integral part of Kosovo's decentralization. They claim that this does not mean division of Kosovo simply because entire Kosovo and Metohija has to remain an autonomous part of Serbia. Serb areas deserve more self rule and local autonomy because Albanian dominated institutions have demonstrated that they continue with discrimination of Serbs in all spheres of life. These initiatives enjoy full support of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the vast majority of Kosovo Serbs. At the moment Steiner has no Serbs who are ready to cooperate with him in his plan to "integrate" Serb community in independent Kosovo.

Steiner is widely accused by Serbs as overtly pro-Albanian. That is why the leading Kosovo Serbs requested from him to step down. In the Serbian press, but informally within UNMIK circles too, there is a rumor that Steiner has become openly ethnically biased because of his alleged affair with Bukuria Balaj, a Kosovo Albanian, member of the Kosovo Television managing board. No one in UNMIK is ready to comment this rumor at the moment, but if proved correct this might seriously impair Steiner's moral predispositions for the position of UNMIK's chief. Steiner's rating in the Serb community has never been lower and it is very possible that few people, if any, will shed tears when he leaves Kosovo and Metohija.

SERBS SEE KPC AS ALBANIAN EQUIVALENT OF MILOSEVIC'S "FRANKIE BOYS"

Another battle is fought over the Kosovo Protection Corps, which originates from the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army. While Premier Rexhepi and the Corps leader Agim Ceku dream of making the Corps a new Kosovo Army based on the traditions of KLA and ethnic Albanian guerilla fighting, Serbs are strongly opposed because the Corps is almost completely monoethnic Albanian organization and its members are considered as directly responsible for many post-war crimes.

Many Serbs see the Corps as an equivalent of the infamous Serbian Red-Barrets (Frankie boys), former Milosevic's paramilitaries, which have been disbanded this week by the Belgrade Government after it was proved that its leaders took direct part in assassination of Premier Djindjic and committed many other crimes. Whether Kosovo will be strong enough to purify the ranks of the Corps remains to be seen. At the moment, several leading officers of the Corps are under investigation and are suspected of committing serious war crimes both against Serb and Albanian civilians.

Now after the intensive crack down of the Belgrade Government against its own "axis of evil" which consists of former paramilitary groups, organized crime gangs, narco-dealers and former politicians close to Milosevic and Seselj it is not difficult to understand that Kosovo cannot trace its way towards better future without doing the same. In fact, many international and local observers have noticed that the former KLA structures and their leaders are deeply involved in criminal activity and organized crime. They exert a strong pressure on moderate Albanians hiding themselves behind nationalistic agenda and Albanian patriotism. As long as these individuals and groups remain in power and continue controlling Kosovo's institutions, Protection Corps and Kosovo Police any improvement of the security situation and political stabilization of the Province will be impossible.

A YEAR OF RETURNS OR A NEW UNMIK'S SMOKE SCREEN

At the same time efforts to bring 230.000 Serb refugees back to their homes in Kosovo continue. Despite loud promises that this year (again!!) will be the year of Serb returns  remaining Serbs and returnees are very skeptical that in existing security conditions any serious return process might be possible at all. It has been proved so far that Serb returnees can only live relatively normally in Serb dominated areas or under heavy KFOR protection. The recent inflammatory article "Beware of Serb Plans to Colonize Kosova", published by the Western sponsored Kosovo Albanian daily KOHA DITORE, urges Kosovo Albanians to attack returnees and disrupt return process by all possible means. While Kosovo Albanian leaders officially support returns they are not taking any concrete steps to decrease hostility of their compatriots and promote more tolerance probably hoping that Serbs would eventually give up returns. The worst situation is in Albanian dominated cities in which only insignificant Serbian minority remains, mostly living in ghettos. Although one may expect some returns in KFOR protected rural areas, the return of Kosovo Serb urban population will remain a farfetched dream.

Fr. Sava Janjic
ERPKIM Editor-in-chief

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U.S. FOREIGN SECRETARY COLIN POWELL IN BELGRADE

U.S. State Secretary visited Belgrade to pay respect to the late Premier Zoran Djindjic and express support the reform forces in Serbia-Montenegro

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Reports by all Serbian media
April 02, 2003


The US State Secretary Colin Powel arrived this afternoon for a short working visit to Belgrade. The Secretary had talks with the president of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Goran Svilanovic. Powel also met Premiers of Serbia and Montenegro, Zoran Zivkovic and Milo Djukanovic and expressed his support for the reform course of the Serb Montenegrin authorities.

The U.S. State Secretary underscored strong commitments of the U.S. Administration to Serbia and Montenegro's fight against the nexus of organized crime, war criminals and political extremism; its efforts to overcome obstacles to integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions; and the region's long-term stability and economic growth.

This is a first visit of a U.S. State Secretary to Belgrade after 1999 NATO bombing campaign and toppling of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Serb-Montenegrin authorities believe that Powel's visit will strengthen democratic reforms in the country and encourage further political and economic cooperation with the United States.


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COVIC: SERBIA CANNOT RENOUNCE KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

No one from the international community will support independence of Kosovo because that would mean the change of borders in the region

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Radio Yugoslavia
April 02, 2003


Serbia cannot renounce Kosovo-Metohija and Belgrade will not be a destabilizing factor, but a stabilizing one, and no one from the international community will support independence of Kosovo because that would mean the change of borders in the region, said Nebojsa Covic, head of the Coordination Centre for Kosmet. Appearing in the TV Politika’s "Pressing" programme, Covic said that Serbia would protect its interests and Belgrade would continue to be a factor of stability in the region.

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MOMCILO TRAJKOVIC PROPOSES REFERENDUM AGAINST IDEPENDENCE OF KOSOVO

We must to organize referendum for all Serb and non Serb residents in Kosovo, to tell the world that insists on Kosovo becoming independent will only lead to complicated situations

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BORBA (Belgrade daily)
April 01, 2003

Momcilo Trajkovic, the president of Kosovo and Metohija Committee in Serbian Parliament, proposed referendum for all Serb and non-Serb residents in Kosovo, against the independence of this southern Serbian province.

“We must to organize referendum for all Serb and non Serb residents in Kosovo, to tell the world that insists on Kosovo becoming independent will only lead to complicated situations,” said Trajkovic for Gracanica newspaper “Glas Juga.”

He also said that “the Serbian leaders in Kosovo are imposters,” and he cannot back the forming of Serbian unions by people who were his recently opponents.”

“The concept of forming Serbian unions is my old idea. The idea is not a solution, but it’s a good answer on demands for independent Kosovo, and beside everything else, I support this concept, and I want to add that this is good, but it’s not enough,” said Trajkovic.
He had answered the question, whether or not is Kosovo closer to the independence after Djindjic’s murder, and said that the country can become stronger only if there is a political “sobriety.”

“Without the sobriety, everything else becomes like a benefit for Kosovo independence,” ended Trajkovic.

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SERBS MIGHT WITHDRAW FROM KOSOVO INSTITUTIONS

If UNMIK chief Michael Steiner does not give up the idea of transferring powers to interim Kosovo-Metohija institutions, Serbs might withdraw from these institutions

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Tanjug (Belgrade)
April 01, 2003

Kosovska Mitrovica - If UNMIK chief Michael Steiner does not give up the idea of transferring powers to interim Kosovo-Metohija institutions, Serbs might withdraw from these institutions, member of the Kosovo parliament presidency Oliver Ivanovic said Tuesday.

Noting that this would constitute a defeat for the UN mission, Ivanovic told a press conference in Kosovska Mitrovica that a withdrawal of Serbs from Kosovo institutions would demonstrate that UNMIK has done nothing to create multi-ethnic institutions.

UNMIK SPOKESMAN SAYS THAT STEINER WILL CONTINUE WITH TRANSFER OF AUTHORITIES WHILE SERB ANNOUNCE FURTHER PROTESTS

Radio Yugoslavia
April 02, 2003

UNMIK spokesman Gjorgji Kakuk said that UNMIK head Michael Steiner would continue with the transference of authorities onto provisional Kosmet institutions despite the announcement of Serb protests. Kakuk remarked that the UN Security Council had established new competences of the Kosovo government. Political representatives of Serbs in Kosmet announced the first protest rally in northern Kosovska Mitrovica for Thursday. Rada Trajkovic, deputy of the Serb Coalition POVRATAK in the Kosovo Assembly, said that the protests were aimed at creating two entities within the Province and not at dividing Kosmet. An advisor in Steiner’s cabinet, Nenad Radosavljevic, assessed that the protests represented a democratic right of Serbs to voice their discontent with UNMIK policy.

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ARMS CACHE FOUND NEAR KOSOVO, SAYS SERBIA

The arms had been buried by former members of the self-styled ethnic Albanian Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB), named after three villages in the region, police said.

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Agence France Presse (AFP)
April 01, 2003


BELGRADE, April 1 (AFP) - Serbian police discovered on Tuesday a large arms cache near the southern boundary with Kosovo, the Serbian interior ministry said, adding that the arms belonged to former ethnic Albanian rebels from the province.

Police reportedly discovered two recoilless guns, eight rocket launchers, 30 automatic weapons and ammunition in a metal container buried near the ethnic Albanian village of Mali Trnovac, close to the boundary of Kosovo, a province of Serbia which has been under UN administration since 1999.

Police said the arms had been buried by former members of the self-styled ethnic Albanian Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB), named after three villages in the region, police said.

The UCPMB fought for self-rule in the region until they were disbanded in May 2001 due to action by the Serbian police and pressure from the international community.

However certain former combattants are thought to have joined a new guerrilla organisation, the Albanian Liberation Army (ANA).

The last two months have seen a number of attacks on Serbian and joint Serbian-Albanian patrols in the area, including an attack on a Serbian police car in February which killed one and injured two. The ANA claimed responsibility for the attack.

Both Belgrade and the European Union have expressed concern at the increase in violence.

Serbia and Montenegro Minister for Minorities Rasim Ljajic has promised decisive action to smash organised crime in the area which he says "is generating a political crisis in the region".

"I don't think that Serbs and Albanians are going to live in great mutual love, and I don't exlude certain incidents, but I don't think there will be serious conflict," Ljajic told the Tanjug agency.

The minister also said that he had asked NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo to arrest certain former UCPMB leaders based in the province.


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KPS TAKING AWAY SERB DRIVING LICENCES AND REGISTRATION PLATES

Kosovo police officers confiscate Serb-Montenegrin registration plates additionally restricting Serb movement in Kosovo and Metohija

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KIM RADIO
April 02, 2003

Gnjilane - Members of the Kosovo Police Service began taking away driving  licences and registration plates issued by the Serbian authorities since 10. June 1999.  As KIM Radio reporters learned, Kosovo Police Service is controlling the traffic in the area of Kosovsko Pomoravlje (Gnjilane region) and are confiscating traffic documents issued by the Serb-Montenegrin uthorities in the post-war period.

The liceces are taken away if drivers do not have written confirmation that they have already applied for the UNMIK driving licences. Owners of vehicles with old Gnjilane, Urosevac and Pristina registration plates will be sued to the court. KPS policemen have also punished some drivers of such vehicles on the spot and they had to pay a fine up to 80 EUR. This latest decision of the KPS authorities has created panic and fear in the Serb areas because in that way their contacts with central Serbia will be additionally restricted.

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LIPLJAN: FOUR HOURS OF FREE MOVEMENT FOR SERBS

Serb residents of Lipljan (Central Kosovo) will be granted four hours of free movement in their city (!!?)

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KIM RADIO
April 02, 2003

Serbs from Lipljan and the neighboring villages could walk the main city street under the protection of Finish KFOR. They could freely move from the Orthodox church to the railway station and even shop at Albanian owned shops, reported KIM Radio reporter from lipljan Stanimir Smilic. "Although the Finish KFOR provided security in the main streets only few Serbs dared leave their homes and walk to the city center between 10-14hrs during which special security was provided. The reason for this was a large number of Kosovo Albanian teenagers in the streets who usually provoke Serb residents".

Certain number of Serbs did not leave their homes because they feared incidents. Members of the international authorities will make a public report soon and give exact figures how many Lipljan Serbs appeared in the streets. They will aslo make a general assessment of this action that will show whether this new arrangement of free movement four hours a day is justifiable or not", said Smilic.

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THE STATE HAS FARGOTTEN US

"Blic's" reporter visits returnees to Kosovo and Metohija who are trying to re-organize their lives

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Blic Daily, Belgrade
April 01, 2003


by Nikola M. Jovanovic

"In Kosovo things are so uncertain that every house and hamlet is a separate story." This is the first thing we were told by one of the Serb returnees to Kosovo and Metohija with whom we had an opportunity to speak during a visit to a return destination organized by the U.S. Office in Pristina.

The international community assists the returnees in rebuilding their houses; it gives them greenhouses for raising vegetables; it enables them to become qualified to work as plumbers, carpenters... There is some security, the returnees tell us, but it is "miserable." "At least there are no murders" is the general consensus. There is not enough work, either. Children of Serbs and Albanians go to separate schools, despite isolated efforts to overcome this. Stojan Jovanovic returned to the village of Izvor in Novo Brdo municipality one month ago.

"ARC helped me to rebuild my house and they promised to replace some machines I had which were stolen," says Jovanovic. A sufficient reason to "return to his property," he says, was the fact that the Serbs won in the elections in Novo Brdo.

"I left because it was terrible... the last activities of the KLA took place here. Despite everything, now it is much quieter," says Stojan.

He does not go to the closest larger town, Gnjilane, because a friend has urged him not to.

"In the village of Vrbovac in Vitina municipality where the entire population is Serb, we live," says Stanoje Moskic, "like in a ghetto."

"There are constant provocations. Two weeks ago shots were fired in Mogila at people in a Serb-owned shop and one man was seriously wounded," says Stanoje. "At the same time, municipal mayor Musa Misini says that our security situation is satisfactory."

Traveling through the municipality we could see members of KFOR protecting Serb churches. There were bunkers in front of two of them, which Misini personally considers unnecessary but "KFOR insists on it."

Svetozar Aleksic returned from Jagodina to Gornji Makres where he owns a shop. Albanians from Donji Makres also shop there. He obtains his merchandise, both Serbian and foreign-produced, in Gnjilane and says that in this village there are no problems between Serbs and Albanians. Blagoje Stevic returned to Stara Kolonija, a village in Novo Brdo municipality, from Leskovac with his wife and three children. He received two pigs; he slaughtered one and is fattening up the other.

"I once worked in the mine in Novi Brdo as a certified mine igniter. I've submitted my papers for retirement," he says.

Ranko Petkovic from the same village says that he is an optimist with respect to resumed life with the Albanians. When asked if he discusses the independence of Kosovo with his Albanian neighbors, he says he keeps out of politics.

"There is plenty of work but no money from the ministries in Serbia. This company director is Return (Povratak) Coalition deputy Sokol Djordjevic who has not visited us even once," he says. Slavjan Stojkovic has secured a small source of income by opening a baby shop. He says the locals are primarily farmers while "some people smuggle clothing."

Desimir Vuckovic returned to Gornje Selo where he worked in a shop for 25 years.

"I can't really praise our country; not one of our officials has come to see how we are doing. I buy my medicines myself; we have to get our food from Serbia. If the situation does not improve, I will have to return to Serbia. This year will be the decisive one for me," concludes Desimir.


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NEW KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY ARREST

Another former member of the outlawed Kosovo Liberation Army arrested

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BETA
April 02, 2003


PRISTINA -- Wednesday – Another former member of the outlawed Kosovo Liberation Army has been arrested by KFOR troops and UNMIK police in Djakovica.

Maliq Ndrecu was arrested yesterday in an operation which blocked movement in the town for almost two hours.

The Association of Kosovo Liberation Army war invalids, of which Ndrecu is a member, has been unable to obtain any information on the arrest or the reason for it.

The Association claimed today that the arrest was politically motivated.

Ndrecu is being held in Pristina prison.

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ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
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