February 14 , 2003
ERP KIM NEWSLETTER
SNC KM AND SNC NK AGAINST
DECLARATION OF SUPPORT TO INDEPENDENT KOSOVO BY KOSOVO PARLIAMENT
Gracanica/Kosovska Mitrovica, February 13, 2003
The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija and the Serb National Council of North Kosovo most strongly condemn today’s adoption of a declaration of support for an independent Kosovo by the Kosovo parliament.
At today’s session the Kosovo parliament adopted by acclamation a joint declaration by the heads of the caucuses of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and Bosniac Vatan Coalition expressing support for the initiative of 42 deputies dates February 3 that parliament proclaim an independent and sovereign Kosovo. Deputies did not vote on this joint declaration, called “the declaration on the declaration”; it was merely read. In this way, the draft declaration on independence entered regular parliamentary procedure so that it can be considered at a subsequent session. The declaration was only read and adopted without a vote so that it could not be annulled by UNMIK chief Michael Steiner.
For the SNC KIM and the SNC NK this development represents an unprecedented and direct attack on Resolution 1244 and the UNMIK international mission which according to this resolution has the task of ensuring the building of provisional institutions for the substantial autonomy of Kosovo and Metohija within the framework of Serbia and Montenegro, not to build a second ethnic Albanian state in the Balkans. Albanian deputies and their supporters have abused the parliament as an institution, which from today is acting quite openly outside the framework of Resolution 1244. By today’s act the leading Albanian parties have taken away the legitimacy of the Kosovo parliament and headed down the path of exacerbating interethnic confrontations and instigation of violence.
Members of the Return (Povratak) Coalition and representatives of the SNC KIM Dr. Rada Trajkovic and Randjel Nojkic did not enter the parliamentary hall today but instead followed developments during the session by monitor from auxiliary parliamentary offices. Unfortunately the other representatives of the Serb Return Coalition not only remained in their seats during the reading of the Albanian declaration but failed to publicly express their disagreement in any way. They even took part afterward in debates on other topics without even mentioning the declaration. Such irresponsible behavior on the part of the Serb deputies led by Oliver Ivanovic, Gojko Savic and Dragisa Krstovic, deserves the strongest condemnation and anger of the Serb people because at a key moment they failed to express their constituents. Once again it appears that the externally imposed decision regarding the return of the Return Coalition to parliament is a tragic mistake giving an illusory political legitimacy to the Albanian policy of an independent and ethnically cleansed Kosovo and Metohija.
A parliament in fact serves as a forum for the public expression of opinions before the electorate. Representatives of the Return Coalition today failed to meet their basic responsibility and their shameful and inexcusable silence at today’s session cannot be interpreted otherwise than as tacit support for the policy of an independent Kosovo, extreme lack of political experience and an example of the self-will of a few individuals who take it upon themselves to promote their personal agendas at the expense of their own people.
The SNC KIM and SNC NK especially condemns the unprecedented statement of Coalition member Oliver Ivanovic who after the parliamentary session misleadingly tried to justify his silence and lack of reaction to the Albanian declaration as a scandalous example of political dilettantism. After today’s debâcle where members of the Return Coalition were publicly humiliated along with the entire Serb people it will be absolutely unthinkable for the Serb deputies to appear again in parliament without experiencing a public contempt by their own people.
The SNC KIM and SNC NK call on UNMIK chief Michael Steiner to publicly annul this illegal declaration and to take urgent measures to prevent the initiative for declaring an independent Kosovo from appearing on the parliamentary agenda. Tolerating or even supporting such demands will only serve to further compromise the position of UNMIK.
In the event of a debate on the independence of Kosovo and its possible proclamation by parliament, the SNC KIM and SNC NK publicly supports the initiative to urgently undertake measures for the formation of a Serb Kosovo and Metohija parliament, which will adopt a counter-declaration recognizing the full sovereignty and state integrity of Serbia and Montenegro in Kosovo and Metohija.
BISHOP ARTEMIJE OF RASKA-PRIZREN
Chairman of the SNC KIM
DR. MILAN IVANOVIC
Chairman of the SNC NK
ORTHODOX CHURCH STRONGLY CONDEMNS THE LATEST ALBANIAN TERRORIST ATTACK
Gracanica, February 13, 2003
Late last night, on Wednesday, February 12, 2003, Kosovo Albanian terrorists threw a grenade at a Serb-owned shop in Kosovska Kamenica. The ensuing powerful explosion resulted in serious material damage including the destruction of the shop and a Serb-owned vehicle parked in front. There is no information at this time regarding possible casualties or injuries. This attack has caused further unrest among the Serbs in Kosovsko Pomoravlje (Eastern Kosovo).
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija most strongly condemns this latest in a series of terrorist attacks targeting the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija. Once again incidents on the ground have disproved statements by international representatives persistently negating the existence of Albanian terrorist groups. This passivity bordering on patronage once again confirms that the goal of the international mission in Kosovo and Metohija apparently is not to prevent and stop violence but to preserve its already seriously compromised credibility.
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren has learned from unofficial sources that
KFOR and UNMIK police are in possession of highly detailed confidential
information regarding the activities of Albanian paramilitary and terrorist
groups. However, fearing possible revenge attacks against international
personnel, these facts are systematically covered up before the public
and organized Albanian terrorism is consistently portrayed as random
activity of irresponsible individuals. The chief blame for misleading
the public and political obstructionism preventing confrontation with
Albanian extremists falls squarely on UNMIK, which is misrepresenting
reality in order to prepare for its own withdrawal and ensure an exit
strategy for a mission which has already experienced complete failure.
ABOUT KOSOVO'S FUTURE
Thursday, 13-Feb-2003 9:20AM
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (AFP) - The US State Department has expressed concern regarding the "timing and nature of decisions on Kosovo's future status," amid moves to make the province independent from Serbia.
"The United States strongly reiterates its support for Resolution 1244 and for this process," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement late Wednesday.
"We also share the view of Michael Steiner, the Special Representative of the (UN) Secretary General, that the best and only acceptable way to prepare for discussions concerning Kosovo's future status is through the achievement of key democratic goals -- a process called 'standards before status,'" he added.
Kosovo's lawmakers on Thursday postponed discussion of a controversial initiative to proclaim the province independent from Serbia.
The parliament was to consider the contentious issue -- launched by ethnic Albanian lawmakers and supported by 42 of 120 legislators in the multiethnic assembly -- on Thursday.
Kosovo has been under United Nations and NATO control since 1999, after the NATO alliance conducted a 78-day bombing campaign to force former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to end a crackdown on ethnic Albanians in the province.
If Kosovo's assembly goes ahead with the initiative, it is likely that Steiner, the UN's top official here, will quash the declaration.
Steiner holds the power of decision-making on sensitive issues such as the province's status, and can dissolve the assembly.
"We believe that statements or actions by the authorities
in Belgrade or on behalf of Kosovo parties or institutions which attempt
to force the pace of the future status process or to reinterpret the provisions
of Resolution 1244 are unhelpful and potentially destabilizing,"
Boucher said, urging concerned parties to "work with the international
community to create the foundation for a democratic Kosovo."
Russian Information Agency Novosti, Moscow
February 13, 2003
BELGRADE /from RIA Novosti corr. Alexander Slabynko/. - Serbian authorities demand that the world community respond actively to a new wave of terrorism in the south of the republic.
The official Belgrade intends to insist on extradition of leaders of terrorist groups, which are free to advance throughout the territory of Kosovo, imposing threat to security of communities in the south of Serbia, Serbian Vice Premier Nebojsa Covic said at a press conference in Belgrade on Monday.
According to the Serbian vice premier, the south of the republic sees a new wave of terrorism. "We are ready to react adequately." "This time allegations about a violation of human rights and extremism shall not pass," Covic stressed.
International organisations, first of all NATO and the OSCE must actively respond to the activity of terrorists, the Serbian official believes. Otherwise, a direct question will arise as to who puts up with organisation of such terrorist formations and gangs, which try to spread fear throughout the region, Covic stated. At the same time Nebojsa Covic pointed out that the state power continued implementing a programme to settle the crisis in the south of Serbia peacefully.
Tensity rose in the south of the republic early in February
after the murder of an Information and Security Agency executive, Albanian
Selver Fazli, and repeated assaults against law enforcement units. In
a number of villages a mass police operation was conducted, which revealed
a large amount of illegal arms, and several Albanians were arrested. In
response the illegal Albanian National Army announced partial mobilization.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Thursday, 13-Feb-2003 5:30AM
PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, Feb 13 (AFP) - A powerful explosion destroyed a Serb-owned shop in eastern Kosovo, a UN official said Thursday.
The incident happened late Wednesday in the ethnically mixed town of Kamenica, some 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) east of the provincial capital Pristina, said Andrea Angeli, spokesman for the UN mission in Kosovo.
"The explosion destroyed the shop of the Serb owner as well as his vehicle, " Angeli said.
The blast also damaged a nearby barber shop, but no injuries were reported, Angeli said.
NATO-led pacekeepers (KFOR) and the UN and local police cordoned off the area and launched an investigation into the incident.
No details were made immediately available pending an investigation.
The blast comes a week after four Serbs were injured by a hand grenade tossed from a passing vehicle in the eastern town of Vitina.
Eastern Kosovo is home to almost 4,000 US peacekeepers, most of them based in the largest military installation in the region, Camp Bondsteel.
Ethnically motivated crime has dwindled in Kosovo in recent months but tension between the majority Albanians and minority Serbs is still high four years after the end of the Kosovo war.
The Albanian-dominated Serbian province of Kosovo has been under UN and NATO control since June 1999.
OF KOSOVO'S INDEPENDENCE IS ABUSE OF INTERIM INSTITUTIONS - COALITION
Kosovska Mitrovica, Feb 12, 2003 - Coalition Povratak (Return) said that the proposal of a Declaration on Kosovo as a Sovereign and Independent State, submitted to the Kosovo Assembly by a group of deputies of Albanian ethnicity, represents the grossest abuse so far of the "interim institutions of local self-government" in the province.
"This act is a blatant denial of UN Special Representative Michael Steiner's latest statement that the situation in Kosovo is gradually improving," it is said in a statement by Coalition Povratak.
Coalition Povratak said that the debate itself on the "declaration" proposal in the Kosovo Assembly may bring about serious legal and political consequences. Therefore, they call for an urgent reaction, both from UNMIK and from the legitimate representatives of the Serbian people in the Kosovo Assembly. "To that end, Coalition Povratak will adopt a Declaration on the Respect of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Serbia and Montenegro in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244," read the statement.
Coalition Povratak said that the debating of the proposal in the Kosovo Assembly is a logical consequence to Michael Steiner's flexible attitude towards similar initiatives in the past. Steiner failed to comply with agreements and obligations stemming both from Resolution 1244 and the documents he and his predecessor signed with Yugoslav representatives, particularly the Joint Document of UNMIK and Yugoslavia, the Resolution on Decentralisation of Authority in Kosovo-Metohija, and the Plan on Administration of Northern Kosovska Mitrovica.
"As a legitimate representative of the Serbian people
in the Kosovo Assembly, Coalition Povratak will not accept to be treated
as representative of an ethnic minority. In line with that, we will assess
the legitimacy of any political process or act in Kosovo-Metohija and
their importance in terms of possible, active and equal participation
of Serbian representatives, and in terms of strict adherence to UN Security
Council Resolution 1244," the statement read.
Feb 11 - Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Coordinating Centre for South of Serbia Nebojsa Covic said late Tuesday that Serbia is prepared to prevent any terrorist attack in that part of its territory.
"We don't want war, but the state is prepared to prevent any possible terrorist attack," said Covic commenting on a warning from UNMIK's police chief that armed groups of ethnic Albanian extremists near Kosovoska Kamenica and Gnjilane are preparing to move towards Bujanovac and Presevo.
Covic told RTS state television that the government has asked UNMIK head Michael Steiner and KFOR to take additional security measures in the areas around Kosovska Kamenica and Gnjilane, adding that the Coordinating Centre and Serbian security forces have already done so in Presevo and Bujanovac to protect citizens from attacks.
"We want a peaceful solution to all problems," he said, calling for tolerance among all citizens of southern Serbia.
In the meantime, the self-proclaimed Albanian National Army (ANA) has announced they will wage an "open war" in southern Serbia. Graffiti bearing its name has recently appeared on the Bujanovac municipality building.
ANA's commander, Vigan Gradica, recently told Pristina's
daily Epoha E Re that his group operates "in all Albanian territories
usurped by Serb, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Greek Orthodox Christians."
FURY AT UN FINAL
IWPR - Institute for War & Peace Reporting
By Artan Mustafa in Pristina (BCR No 404, 10-Feb-03)
Kosovar Albanians, yearning for independence, have been enraged by a raft of UN conditions which must be met before they can even talk about sovereignty.
It follows three years of the UN Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, persistently sidestepping the subject of Kosovo's future.
The eight standards were introduced by the UNMIK a year ago to set a course for the region's development. But in the second week of January, the international authority insisted that they had to be met in advance of final status talks.
Kosovans angrily accused the UN of approaching matters the wrong way round - they want status discussed before standards are set.
Tensions over the issue escalated last week following the creation of new EU-backed union between Montenegro and Serbia, under which Kosovo unequivocally remains in the latter.
Forty-two deputies in the Kosovo parliament threatened to declare independence. Some newspaper columnists said while they had a right to be angry, such unilateral action would be ill-advised as it got the region's nowhere in the past.
The territory's Albanian majority has been campaigning for independence ever since 1989 when they were ruled from Belgrade. After NATO forces prised loose Serbia's grip in 1999, Kosovo became a UN protectorate governed under Security Council resolution 1244.
The resolution obliged UNMIK to "facilitate a political process designed to determine Kosovo's future".
But the authority's head Michael Steiner has lately been playing down this aspect of his mission. In messages to the public in Pristina, Belgrade and on February 6 before the Security Council, he stressed that 2003 was still too early to talk about Kosovo's final status.
The checklist of challenging standards that must be fulfilled before final status can be discussed include the return of Serb refugees, freedom of movement for the minority, dialogue with Belgrade, the formation of democratic institutions and the establishment of the rule of law.
Ethnic Albanians, who make up 95 per cent of the Kosovo population, reject the UNMIK principle of "standards before status". Their leaders also worry about the lack of any time frame for these conditions to be reached.
Bajram Rexhepi, the prime minister of Kosovo, told IWPR that making the question of status a hostage to standards was unacceptable. "There must be, at least, a set deadline for these standards to be achieved'," he said.
But Oliver Ivanovic, the Serbian member of the presidency of the Kosovo parliament, told IWPR that Serbs fully agree the "standards should be met before (final) status (talks)".
This reflected the view of minority Serbs that Kosovo is still part of Yugoslavia. They are in no hurry to see an Albanian-dominated Kosovo state.
For the Albanians, the return of Serbian refugees is probably one of the most difficult and painful issues on UNMIK's checklist. According to UNMIK sources, only 6,000 out of about 200,000 refugees, mainly Serbs, who left their houses after the NATO bombing, have returned to Kosovo.
The International Crisis Group, ICG, in Pristina argues that the lack of a defined final status for Kosovo discourages refugees from returning home. Serbs do not know whether they will be coming back to an independent Kosovo or a territory that still has links with Serbia.
UNMIK says it can assist in the return process but it could not provide indefinite security for those who do come back.
The second painful issue on the list is the suggestion that dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade must be established
Most Kosovo Albanians do not support such talks and consider that ties with Belgrade ended with the ethnic cleansing campaign during which more than half a million Albanians were driven out of their homes and thousands left dead or missing.
Enver Hasani, an international law professor at the University of Pristina, said this dialogue would have to start sooner or later. But he thought it should not begin now, at a time when the Greeks are heading the EU presidency for the next six months to be followed by the Italians. "Both (these countries) are known for their sympathy towards Serbia, and I think we would suffer from this," Hasani said.
The most recent blow to Albanian politicians in Pristina was the new union between Serbia and Montenegro, as they have been trying to convince themselves and the public that as each day goes by Kosovo has less and less to with Belgrade.
There is a sense that the debate on independence is moving backwards to the underground age of 1990s Kosovan politics when Ibrahim Rugova unsuccessfully tried to persuade western governments to recognise the virtually self-declared Republic of Kosovo.
But then as now, Rugova and his allies are unlikely to meet with any success. Steiner has already insisted the UN will not allow unilateral decisions by Belgrade and Pristina to prejudice the independence issue - which would be for the Security Council alone to decide.
Meanwhile, the UN is emphasising the importance of its preconditions for final status talks. Mason Whitney, a UNMIK official, said, "These standards can neither be lowered nor negotiated, they should be met so that we can start building a normal society."
UNMIK is trying to promote the standards through short video
clips shown by local TV stations. The videos produced some sardonic responses.
One journalist wrote to Steiner on December 31 asking him whether Kosovars
"meet the standards for celebrating New Year".
BUJANOVAC, Serbia-Montenegro - Amid rising ethnic tensions in Serbia's volatile south, the government appealed for calm Thursday ahead of a rally by restive ethnic Albanians.
"We are convinced that the citizens ... have had enough of violence, clashes and terrorist acts," said a statement by the government's body in charge of the tense region neighboring Kosovo. Kosovo itself is dominated by ethnic Albanians.
"We can preserve peace only through joint engagement" of Serbs and ethnic Albanians living in the region, the statement added.
Three major ethnic Albanian parties in the ethnically mixed region scheduled a rally in the town of Bujanovac on Thursday to protest last week's arrest of their ethnic kin in a police raid.
The police detained several ethnic Albanians last weekend after finding large caches of weapons and ammunition in a raid of two ethnic Albanian strongholds. The raid led to demonstrations and triggered fears of clashes similar to ones in 2000 and 2001, when ethnic Albanian rebel groups staged an insurgency to demand more rights.
The conflict ended in 2001 with a Western-brokered peace plan that gave the ethnic Albanians self-rule on the municipal level. However, tensions and sporadic violence persisted.
Also Thursday, the Serbian Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that police were stepping up security measures throughout the republic, and particularly in the south, to prevent possible terrorist actions.
"All measures that are being taken are aimed at prevention and security of the citizens," said the statement, which was faxed to The Associated Press. It did not elaborate.
In its appeal, the government center in Bujanovac cited "indications" of possible provocations at the planned ethnic Albanian demonstrations, and called on the organizers to prevent any incidents.
ERP KIM Info-Service is
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