July 03, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 03-07-03

COMMUNIQUE

For immediate release

RHETORIC WITHOUT READINESS FOR CONCRETE POLITICAL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

Reaction of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija to "the appeal of Albanian leaders to displaced Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija"

GRACANICA, 03 JULY 2003

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija believe that the recent appeal of Kosovo Albanian leaders to displaced and expelled Serbs to return to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija is a formally positive but essentially insincere political move and trick whose goals are more in the domain of political marketing than in the honest intention of establishing better interethnic tolerance and democratic relations. Unfortunately, the enormous disparity between rhetoric and the everyday reality in which the Serb community lives is too great for this appeal to represent serious encouragement for 230,000 Serbs which are not granted free return to their homes four years after they fled Kosovo.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija must state with regret that the concrete behavior of individual Kosovo Albanian leaders and Albanian municipal authorities in practical life is diametrically opposed to the rhetoric of the aforementioned appeal.

Nenad Radosavljevic, the repatriation coordinator in the office of the special representative of the UN secretary general in Kosovo and Metohija, has already pointed out several concrete examples where municipal authorities belonging to the parties of Ibrahim Rugova and Hashim Thaci, respectively, are openly blocking returns and failing to undertake any concrete measures to realize the return of displaced citizens*. The situation is especially difficult in the Pec region where the municipal authorities are rhetorically calling on Serbs to return while at the same time preventing in practice by a series of impossible conditions any organized and sustained return by Serb citizens to this region. Even though conditions for the return of individuals or smaller groups and families do not exist in most of the Province, especially in the urban centers, due to enormous security risks and pervasive ethnic discrimination, K/Albanian leaders stubbornly oppose the return of the Serb population of entire Serb villages that now lie empty with the justification that they don't want "the creation of new enclaves." Very frequently mentioned in public is the false idea that Serbs in fact do not want to return, without bothering to mention that it is completely unrealistic to expect the return of families with women and children to locations where these people are faced with the absolute lack of elementary security and human rights. By stubbornly avoiding to responsibly build a spirit of tolerance and a readiness to accept the refugees among the majority populace, the K/Albanian municipal authorities are actually conducting an organized and carefully planned campaign to prevent the return of significant numbers of displaced persons, especially to urban centers. At the same time, the tolerance and hiding of continued crimes and pressure applied on remaining Serbs, especially the elderly, to sell their property and leave Kosovo and Metohija represents another indicator that behind the rhetoric prepared for the Western media market there is no sincere willingness for a common life, tolerance and respect for the rights of non-Albanians.

The position of Albanian leaders who claim that "they cannot guarantee either security or employment" for Serb returnees is highly problematic. From such a statement it follows that these leaders are not ready to assume any personal responsibility or concrete political activity in order to create better interethnic living conditions. There are many examples confirming this "political schizophrenia" of Albanian politicians because after all major incidents where Albanian extremists have attacked and murdered members of the Serb community or destroyed churches, the political leaders of the main Albanian parties in the Province chiefly limited themselves to superficial, ambiguous and rhetorical statements condemning violence without taking any concrete measures to publicly reduce interethnic tension and intolerance. What is more, by their statements in contacts with their electorate they continued with their usual nationalistic rhetoric, acting as if no one lived in the Province except ethnic Albanians.

What awaits Serb returnees to the Province where they are being so magnanimously invited by the leading Albanian politicians?

First, the complete absence of any form of security guarantees, individual or collective rights or freedoms. Serbs continue to be subject to persecution, attack, theft and various acts of violence. All postwar crimes against Serbs, including the massacre of the Stolic family, remain unsolved crimes because of the absolute unwillingness of the Albanian community and its political leadership to help UNMIK police to identify the criminals. Not one instance of destruction or desecration of Orthodox churches or cemeteries has been positively resolved and there is an absolute conspiracy of silence in the Province regarding the issue altogether, which not infrequently borders on a tacit approval of the crimes themselves or even accusing Serbs of blowing up their own shrines. Mr. Ibrahim Rugova and the other leaders of Albanian political parties act as if all these crimes are happening somewhere in Madagascar or in the Philippines. Premier Rexhepi, for instance, openly contested a number of destroyed churches in a meeting with a group of Italian senators in March this year, which was later confirmed by the Albanian press and the senators themselves. He also repeated a "popular" theory that only political churches were destroyed although many of the destroyed shrines were built in the 13th or 14th century. In this way Rexhepi de facto not only justified these acts of vandalism but also encouraged new attacks. After the stoning of 50 Serb pensioners in Pec in December of last year, none of the Albanian leaders visited the elderly men and women who were attacked, nor did anyone publicly address the Albanian population of Pec to point out that behavior of this sort is unacceptable for a society that aspires to become a part of Europe. The so-called Albanian "independent press," which under the strong influence of the political parties, is not only failing to participate in the building of a spirit of tolerance but is further fanning the flames of interethnic intolerance and persistently glorifying the ideals of wartime violence, representing the chief obstacle to the process of the democratization of society.

It is characteristic that Albanian leaders consistently see the essence of the security problem in the Province in "organized crime." Of course, no one can deny that since 1999 Kosovo has become a mecca of organized crime, prostitution and drug dealing, a fact regularly reported by the Western press. However, the real root of violence and crime lies in the existence of a retrograde collective consciousness that the Province should be transformed into an ethnically pure Albanian independent state, where even the last vestiges of Serb presence and culture should be eliminated once and for all. This is the direction toward which the surviving structures of the former Kosovo Liberation Army are working, whether through the terrorist Albanian National Army (ANA) or through "legal" structures such as the Kosovo Protection Corps, Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and public institutions. Recently the Kosovo Parliament passed a decision, despite the opposition of the Serb delegates and the international community, proclaiming the war fought by the KLA to be "a war of liberation," despite the fact that a large number of innocent civilians - Serbs, Albanians, Roma and Bosniacs - perished at the hands of extremists belonging to this inherently terrorist organization. Only a month ago leading Albanian politicians reaffirmed in Prizren the 19th century ideals of the infamous "Prizren League," behind which stands the idea of the political unification of all the Albanians in the Balkans in a single, ethnically based, exclusive state. With its exclusive ethnic Albanian and Islamist postulates, the Prizren League is a dangerous anachronism and an obstacle to the democratic development of society and the establishment of interethnic confidence. The statements of the Albanian leaders on the occasion of these "national" occasions are in grotesque contradiction to the polished rhetoric of the appeal to displaced Serbs. Nationalistic rhetoric is often used as a public cover by those leaders who are under suspicion of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and it is not unusual at all that the main initiators of the post-war ethnic violence wrap themselves in the Albanian national flag in order to present themselves as the only sincere fighters for the future of the Kosovo Albanian people.

Keeping all these fact in mind, we cannot help but conclude that the most recent declaration appealing for the return of displaced Serbs is yet another colorful lie the purpose of which is to conceal the direct responsibility of certain leaders who have subscribed to the organization and encouragement of crimes against the Serb population since the end of the war in June 1999. Rhetoric without the readiness for concrete political and moral responsibility and the equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of ethnic affiliation, is only another attempt to hide the real situation at any price and to portray Kosovo, the most intolerant part of the European continent, as "the land of milk and honey."

Consequently, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija call on Albanian leaders and on the Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohija as a whole to spend less time on empty rhetoric and more on concrete activities aimed at building a more tolerant society and preventing ethnic violence and terrorism, so as to create the necessary atmosphere for the return of displaced persons. The rhetoric of the appeal has therefore to be confirmed by concrete actions so that it might have any political and moral credibility. The refugees will then return to their homes of their own accord without histrionic public appeals and media furor. The Serb community will actively participate in the building of a democratic society and the true multiethnic institutions, but only under the condition that it is not a society tailored only for one privileged ethnic community, a society where Serbs as a people will be second class citizens. This is the only reality that the Serb people can and will accept. It certainly is not the reality created by ethnic terror, looting, the burning down of churches and the digging up of graves, which Albanian leaders want Serbs to accept as a precondition for their normal and safe life in Kosovo.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija again publicly reiterate that conditions for resolving the final status of the Province cannot be achieved by rhetoric and arguments in vain, but only by implementation of democratic standards and establishing equal rights for all citizens.

* Press report enclosed at the bottom



BISHOP OF RASKA-PRIZREN AND THE
PRESIDENT OF THE SERB NATIONAL COUNCIL OF
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

+ ARTEMIJE (Radosavljevic)

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TEXTS RELATED TO THE COMMUNIQUE


KOSOVO'S LEADERS URGE SERBS TO RETURN

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FoNet, Beta
02 July 2003



PRISTINA -- Wednesday – Kosovo Albanian leaders yesterday called on Serbs and other displaced persons to return to their homes in Kosovo.

"Kosovo is your home, just like its our home. We wish you to return and live with us in peace as neighbours, in an atmosphere of mutual respect," they wrote in an open letter signed by, among others, Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova and Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi.

Due to problems with organised crime, the letter said, Kosovo’s interim authorities could not guarantee jobs or security but they were ready to work together to protect the rights and interests of those who return. 

Deputy Serbian PM Nebojsa Covic, also head of Serbia’s Coordination Centre for Kosovo, welcomed the letter as "an interesting step forward".

However, the Democratic Alternative leader said at a press conference: "What is not good is that they do not offer guarantees for the safety of repatriates".

Kosovo-Serb representatives described the letter as a dishonest, cynical and empty gesture and Kosovo Assembly MP Rada Trajkovic insisted:

"This letter was written more for the international community than the displaced. With it they want to get as many jurisdictions from the international community as possible in order to constitute state bodies."

Kosovo-Serb politicians then turned attention to the Coordination Centre, criticising its work and Covic personally.

Stressing that they are not seeking Covic’s dismissal, representatives Momcilo Trajkovic, Marko Jaksic and Milan Ivanovic noted that August would mark the second anniversary of the body that has not served its purpose, calling for greater effort to be invested in the remedying of Kosovo’s myriad problems.

They are also seeking active involvement in the formulating of a strategy for negotiations with the Kosovo-Albanians regarding the final status of the break-away province.

Serbia’s DOS leadership are scheduled to discuss the Kosovo situation at a special session tomorrow.


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RADOSAVLJEVIC: ALBANIAN LEADERS AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO BLAME FOR LOW RETURNS

Nenad Radosavljevic, the advisor to UNMIK chief Michael Steiner, drew a lot of attention at a conference organized by the PER Institute in Pristina last week by assessing that the representatives of the international administration in Kosovo and Albanian political leaders are directly responsible for the extremely poor results with respect to returns.

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B92, Belgrade
June 29, 2003

(photo: Nenad Radosavljevic and Rada Trajkovic)

Pristna - Nenad Radosavljevic, the advisor to UNMIK chief Michael Steiner, drew a lot of attention at a conference organized by the PER Institute in Pristina last week by assessing that the representatives of the international administration in Kosovo and Albanian political leaders are directly responsible for the extremely poor results with respect to returns. UNMIK radio journalist Zoran Culafic reported that one of the main topics of the conference, which brought together all Kosovo Albanian political leaders and representatives of minority communities, was the return of displaced persons to Kosovo.

"The obstruction of returns is primarily carried out by Albanian political leaders, who have promised the Albanian population independence as the only possible, and who came to power by manipulating the uneducated populace. They cannot change this policy now out of fear that they will lose the support of the voters," said Radosavljevic. "A second reason for obstruction is the fact that primarily the Albanian population has illegally occupied the property of displaced persons. For the last four years they have behaved as if this property was theirs, and they want to hold on to the property in the future as well," said Radosavljevic.

Radosavljevic indicated that a third factor for obstruction or even blocking of the return of displaced persons to Kosovo is the inadequate behavior of representatives of the international administration in the Province. "Some representatives of the international administration are willing to participate in obstruction or to to passively observe what is happening out of fear of the reaction of the majority Albanian population or because they are indoctrinated or even, in individual cases, because they are corrupt," said Radosavljevic.


Radosavljevic consequently addressed an open invitation to Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova and Democratic Party of Kosovo leader Hashim Thaci to unblock the return process in two concrete instances in locations where representatives of their respective parties hold local
power: in southern Kosovska Mitrovica and in Novo Selo near Vucitrn. "By doing this they will demonstrate their sincere desire to see returns actually occur in these two concrete cases." The municipal assembly of southern Mitrovica, where Rugova's party holds the majority, has decided to built a recreational center in a location where 700 Roma families lived before the conflict. I think Rugova should use this example to demonstrate that he respects the human rights and standards he claims to support," said Radosavljevic.

Radosavljevic also said that two assemblymen from Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo are categorically opposing the return of 71 Serb families to Novo Selo near Vucitrn and that they have completely blocked the return process. "I think Hashim Thaci should go out in the field and clearly express his intent to build a multiethnic society there, meaning that all displaced persons should return," said Radosavljevic.

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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.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with www.serbian-translation.com as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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