July 06, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 06-07-03

CONTENTS:

PUBLIC STATEMENT OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH COUNCIL FOR KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

POSITION OF SERBS IN KOSOVO REMAINS ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED
JAMES BISSET: VIDOVDAN SPEECH, NIAGARA FALLS, 29. JUNE 2003
FIRST TOPIC OF DIALOGUE - RETURN AND SECURITY OF SERBS IN KOSOVO

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PUBLIC STATEMENT OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH COUNCIL FOR KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

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THE INFORMATION SERVICE OF
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Patriarchate, Belgrade


July 5, 2003

PUBLIC STATEMENT


THE COUNCIL FOR KOSOVO AND METOHIJA OF
THE HOLY SYNOD OF BISHOPS OF
THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH


(photo: Patriarchal Palace in Belgrade, Serbian Orthodox Church)

As a result of the concern of the Serbian Orthodox Church for its suffering people in Kosovo and Metohija, whose Golgotha has not ended but become increasingly difficult and more horrible since the establishment of international rule in Kosovo and Metohija in June 1999, the Council for Kosovo and Metohija of the Serbian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod of Bishops met in Belgrade in the Serbian Patriarchate on Friday, July 4.

After listening to multiple reports from the Province, the Council concluded that, despite minor improvements, essentially nothing has changed for our people. They continue to live a life unworthy of free man, without legal, social, health or any other form of security. Judging from the most recent murders in Obilic and violence throughout Kosovo and Metohija they are frequently in justifiable fear for their very lives. We fear that those guilty for these most recent crimes will be neither found nor punished, as the perpetrators of hundreds of murders from June 1999 to the present have been neither found nor punished. And we ask ourselves: What good fortune and progress can the Albanians expect if these are the promised social standards to be established by the international community?

The Council concluded that during the mandate of UNMIK chief Michael Steiner the return of Serb refugees begun in 2001 came to a halt and it called on Steiner's successor and UNMIK to return the displaced to the villages of Ljevosa, Siga, Brestovik and Belo Polje in the Pec region as soon as possible, point out that everything necessary has existed for some time: programs, funds provided by the Italian government, security and volunteers for return - everything except somebody's good will!

At the same time UNMIK, which is unable to provide a normal life, is asking that the protection of reaming Serbian churches and cultural monuments be entrusted to the provisional institutions and officials in Pristina. How will they be able to protect them from ruin when KFOR and UNMIK police have failed to protect more than 110 churches from demolition and destruction? Despite the clarity of Resolution 1244 and the Military-Technical Agreement, proposals can also be heard once again to turn over the protection of Serbian heritage and religious sites to the Kosovo Protection Corps, among whose ranks yesterday's terrorists and criminals who murdered people and destroyed these same churches are frequently being discovered!

The Council for Kosovo and Metohija expressed its great concern because of the situation of refugees and displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija, especially because international sources that largely fed them are slowly drying up.We call on the international public, the state of Serbia and Montenegro and on our people, despite their impoverished state, to do what they can and help those in need. We encourage Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija to survive and stay in their ancient homes, for this is not the first time they have been persecuted, nor is it the first time that Serbs have returned to their burned down and destroyed churches and homes and rebuilt them from the ashes. Placing our faith in God the All-Supporting, we hope that this generation will not dishonor its forefathers in this respect.

In its quest for truth, answers and a future for Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian Orthodox Church will soon publish its Memorandum on Kosovo and Metohija, in the hope that God will grant that words of truth will truly set us all free: the international community in fulfilling its purpose for assuming rule and responsibility in Kosovo and Metohija; our state in tending with a clear strategy the land where it came into existence; the Serb people who stayed in Kosovo and Metohija in surviving; all expelled persons and refugees in returning; and all residents of Kosovo and Metohija in living in peace and human dignity.

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POSITION OF SERBS IN KOSOVO REMAINS ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
July 5, 2003


BELGRADE - The Council for Kosovo and Metohija of the Serbian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod of Bishops has assessed that, despite minor improvements, essentially nothing has changed for the Serb people in the Province.

"The Serb people continue to live a life unworthy of free man, without legal, social, health or any other form of security. Judging from the most recent murders in Obilic and violence throughout Kosovo and Metohija they are frequently in justifiable fear for their very lives. We fear that those guilty for these most recent crimes will be neither found nor punished, as the perpetrators of hundreds of murders from June 1999 to the present have been neither found nor punished," reads the statement of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The members of the Church council ask the question: "What good fortune and progress can the Albanians expect if these are the promised social standards to be established by the international community?"

At yesterday's session Council members concluded that during the mandate of UNMIK chief Michael Steiner the return of Serb refugees begun in 2001 came to a halt.

The Council called on Steiner's successor and UNMIK to return the displaced to the villages of Ljevosa, Siga, Brestovik and Belo Polje in the Pec region as soon as possible, point out that everything necessary has existed for some time: programs, funds provided by the Italian government, security and volunteers for return - "everything except somebody's good will."

The Council for Kosovo and Metohija expressed its great concern because of the situation of refugees and displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija because international sources that fed them are slowly drying up.

"We call on the international public, the state of Serbia and Montenegro and on our people, despite their impoverished state, to do what they can and help those in need. We encourage Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija to survive and stay in their ancient homes. This is not the first time they have been persecuted, nor is it the first time that Serbs have returned to their burned down and destroyed churches and homes and rebuilt them from the ashes," the statement says.

The Council announced that in its quest for truth, answers and a future for Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian Orthodox Church will soon publish its Memorandum on Kosovo and Metohija.

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JAMES BISSETT: VIDOVDAN SPEECH, NIAGARA FALLS, 29. JUNE 2003

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VIDOVDAN SPEECH NIAGARA FALLS 29 JUNE 2003

Honored guests ladies and gentlemen:

I want at the outset to thank Bora Dragasevich for inviting me to speak to you this afternoon. It is a privilege and a sincere honor for me to be with you and to share your Vidovdan celebrations.

I recall that it was thirteen summers ago that I set off to Belgrade to take up my post as the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was then a strong and united country- more prosperous than most of the Eastern Bloc countries. Yet there were emerging signs of trouble. Urged on by the former Central Powers - Germany, Austria and Hungary - Slovenia and Croatia were already planning to separate from the Yugoslav Federation.

I became an eyewitness to the subsequent violence and break up of the country. I also was a witness to the "historical amnesia" suffered by the political leaders of France, Britain, the United States and my own country, Canada. These countries were Serbia's old traditional allies in two world wars yet they shamefully stood by and joined in the betrayal of Yugoslavia. The break up of Yugoslavia was a disaster for the Serbian people. Thousands killed and many more thousands forced to flee their ancestral homelands. Serbs have been humiliated and many have lost their self-respect. Yet the greatest tragedy of all is that the Serbs have been blamed for everything that has happened since the breakup. They have been blamed for the breakup itself. They have been blamed for starting the violence. They have been blamed for the ethnic cleansing that occurred. They have been blamed for the massacres. They have been blamed for genocide. Finally they have been blamed for the NATO bombing of their own country!

These are lies! Lies! Lies! Hitler's propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels said if you tell a monstrous lie people will believe you because they cannot imagine anyone making up such an outrageous falsehood. Then if evidence is shown to contradict the lie, you dismiss it as irrelevant or misguided. Finally when the truth finally is disclosed it is too late. Nobody cares or wants to know. So it has been with the dreadful lies told about the Serbs. President Clinton and Tony Blair talked about genocide taking place in Kosovo. The US Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, said there were over a hundred thousand young Albanian men missing in Kosovo. Robin Cook the British Foreign Minister and Clare Short his cabinet colleague both made outrages charges against the Serbs about non-existent rape camps. Later it was reported by the UNHCR and even the anti-Serb, Soros NGO, Human Rights Watch, that these stories had no foundation. Can you believe that these two hypocritical British Cabinet Ministers actually resigned over the war against Iraq!

However, there is a striking difference between Kosovo and Iraq. Despite all of Milosevic's faults he didn't compare with Saadam Hussein. Milosevic, after all, obeyed all of the UN Resolutions - including allowing troops from the Organization for European Cooperation and Development [OECD] into Kosovo. He was no threat to his neighbors. He did not aspire to, nor did he possess, weapons of mass destruction. Although not a democrat he was not a psychopathic killer like Saadam nor was Serbia under his regime a totalitarian state, as was Iraq. In reality he was trying to suppress an armed rebellion in his own territory- a rebellion led by a Muslim terrorist organization - and for this the NATO countries bombed his country.

I believe now that it is generally accepted by most of the informed public in the West [with the exception of the main stream media in Canada and the United States] that the bombing of Yugoslavia was deliberately contrived. It served as a means of providing NATO with a reason for existence and President Clinton with a distraction from his sexual embarrassments. The truth is gradually emerging from a variety of reliable sources. One of the most revealing has been the admission by the former British Defense Minister, Lord Gilbert, who told the British House of Commons in July 2000 that the terms forced upon Milosevic at Rambouillet were deliberately designed to provoke war.

So the truth is slowly coming out. Regretfully it is too late in itself to restore to many Serbs their sense of pride and self-respect. This is left to you as a people. However, knowing you as I do- and mindful of your historic courage and heroism - I am confident you will overcome this historic setback as you have done before. The main thing is to ensure that your young people remain proud of their heritage and do not accept the simplistic and biased accounts of the North American media's account of the Yugoslav breakup.

I want to end my speech today on a positive note. There are, believe it or not, some encouraging signs of reconciliation and hope in the former Yugoslavia. A recent agreement signed in Lake Ohrid by representatives of five Balkan countries: Serbia/Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania will translate, if all goes well, into a free trade agreement to become effective in 2007. Moreover, Croatia and Serbia/Montenegro have agreed to declare both countries "visa free" so that citizens of each country can travel back and forth without visas. There is even some hope that under EU pressure property rights might be restored to those who have been displaced by the wars.

The driving force behind these positive developments is of course the European Union. The incentive for these countries to forget their ancient hatreds and to conform to so-called Western values of free markets and democratization is the carrot to becoming members of the EU Club. In the final analysis geography and economics may well conquer Balkan politics. The circle will become closed - and once again in a different form - the former Yugoslavia will emerge.

I will conclude on this upbeat note but not before adding a personal warning. The history of Serbia has recorded heroic victories and terrible defeats. The victories have come when Serbs have relied on their own resources and inner strengths. The defeats have come when their allies have betrayed them or let them down. There is a lesson here that you must not forget. Do not put all of your trust or faith in others, especially in multilateral organizations or in politicians. And remember history does sometimes repeat itself. You ought never to forget this. Who could have imagined that the horrors that took place in the spring and summer of 1941 in Croatia and Bosnia would repeat themselves in the 1990's?

James Bissett
[former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia 1990-1992.]


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FIRST TOPIC OF DIALOGUE RETURN AND SECURITY OF SERBS IN KOSOVO

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Radio Serbia-Montenegro
Belgrade, July 5, 2003

The political analyst and consultant for the Institute for social sciences in Belgrade, Ognjen Pribicevic, has announced that preparations for genuine talks on the resolving of the Kosovo issue are to be expected during this year. He also pointed out that the first topic of talks between Belgrade and Pristina should be the return and security of the Serbs to Kosovo. What is happening in Kosovo, how Serbs live there and how they are treated is below African standards and not in concordance with European trends during the last 100 years.

Pribicevic added that first of all, the standards, which were set not by the Serbian side but the international community, must be respected, and only then can talks be held on the status of Kosovo. He assessed that there must be a dialogue about the return of Serbian security forces in Kosovo for, as he said, this was stipulated by the international community in Resolution 1244, adding that he cannot see any reason why the Albanians would be worried about this.

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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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