August 20, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 20-08-03


Belgrade, August 20, 2003

Belgrade, Aug 20, 2003 - Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Nebojsa Covic said on his return from New York that the United Nations Security Council condemned criminal activity in Kosovo-Metohija during the past weeks, and added that Security Council member states endorsed measures which the Serbian government had proposed in order to bring stability to the province.

Covic told a press conference at Belgrade Airport that SC member states changed their terminology after the latest events in Kosovo-Metohija, making a distinction between extremism and terrorism. In line with that, the UN SC will order UNMIK and KFOR to implement measures proposed by the Serbian government, together with UNMIK's Decree 2001/12 which deals with terrorism.

The president of the Coordinating Centre said that notwithstanding the crimes committed in Kosovo-Metohija, Serbia should not expect that Resolution 1244 will be implemented in the near future. Covic reiterated that Belgrade is still willing to establish a dialogue with Pristina, and to implement the Joint Document of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK, signed on November 5, 2001 in Belgrade.

Stressing how important it is for Serbs not to react to provocations of Albanian terrorists and extremists, Covic said that violence in Kosovo-Metohija would not stop overnight, and that the process of ending the violence in the province would be difficult, and would take several years.

He warned that it was not the Albanian National Army, but the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps which was dangerous, as it provides full logistical support to all terrorist activities. He stressed that a solution to the Kosovo problem will not be found until all those who committed crimes are brought to justice.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Covic also met with the British ambassador to the UN Security Council Emyr Jones Parry, and with his US counterpart John D. Negroponte. They expressed expectations that the relationship between Belgrade and Pristina would become one of equal partners.


Mr. President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for responding positively to our initiative and convening today’s Security Council meeting on Kosovo and Metohia. We are gathered here today because of the hideous murder and wounding of innocent children swimming in the river near their homes in Kosovo and Metohia. Killed only because they were Serbs. Killed in order to send a message to all the Serbs now living in Kosovo and Metohia that they must leave, that there is no chance for reconciliation and the sort of multi-ethnic society that UNSC Resolution 1244 and all of us foresee.

The massacre is by no means unique. Since peacekeepers arrived in Kosovo and Metohia following a bombing campaign in 1999, there have been 6,013 attacks at Serbs, their cultural heritage, and their property. One thousand twenty-one Serbs have been killed in these attacks. Fifty-two Christian sacral relics have been demolished in these attacks, including ten monasteries and churches from the fourteenth century. Fifty-five other orthodox places of worship have been damaged and desecrated.

In Serbia, we are determined to cooperate with the International Community not only in Kosovo and Metohia, but also in the region as a whole. In Southern Serbia, for example, we have jointly built a model of pacification and reconciliation. Ever since I was tasked with the job of the President of the Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohia, we have tried hard to cooperate with the International Community and its institutions in the Province in the spirit of partnership and mutual confidence. We have tried hard to help UNMIK and KFOR hoping that UNMIK and KFOR will help us.

By the most recent escalation of terrorism, wounding and murder of the children, in addition to daily intimidation and persecution of the remaining Serbs in the Province, Albanian extremists and terrorists are sending a message to the new Special Representative of the Secretary General: every single decision he is going to make that does not meet their expectations will result in new violence and destabilization of the situation in Kosovo and Metohia.

Nevertheless, this brutal murder has to make us all wonder whether this massive effort by the International Community will work, can work. Are the forces of evil, of nationalism just too strong to be overcome? I appreciate the actions of the SRSG to appoint a special prosecutor to bring the perpetrators to justice and we will do all we can to help him. At the same time, we all need to accept that crimes like this are not really unique. They belong to a pattern of activity by a determined minority of the Albanian population, which seeks to drive all Serbs out from Kosovo and Metohia, and, of course, discourage any refugees and internally displaced persons from returning. To bring the ethnic cleansing of the Province to completion.

Is this an overstatement? I do not think so. Albanian people who had fled Kosovo and Metohia before Milosevic’s regime returned back to their homes in Kosovo and Metohia in a flash, rescued and assisted by the international community. The whole process was completed in just a few days. The Serbs who fled Kosovo and Metohia have been advised not to return in groups but individually due to security, or, to be more accurate - insecurity reasons. With the current pace of the returns, it will take over a hundred years for the Serbs and other non-Albanians to return to the Province.

Albanians, who suffered terribly under Milosevic’s regime, who could be our key interlocutors, watch brutal retaliations carried out by their extreme compatriots in silence.

I strongly believe that the brutality and savageness are not something that all Albanians approve. I base this belief on the tragic fate of the Albanian leaders who have paid their disapproval of crimes with their own lives. It is, therefore, clear to me why the majority of Albanians has remained silent. And why only few Albanians, mainly politicians, have faintheartedly condemned the crimes recalling, at the same time, the Serbian crimes of the past.

In these distorted circumstances, UNMIK and KFOR have done less that they could have. I am trying to understand the inertia of the representatives of the international community. I can understand it, but I cannot acquit it.

An UNMIK police officer has been assassinated lately and numerous brutal attacks have been carried out targeting the international peacekeepers. If you carefully read between the lines, the following message is being sent to the officers of the international mission: “Think well before you do anything, we are watching you, any of you can be killed.” Thus, the staff of the United Nations Civil Mission and all officers and personnel of the international troops in Kosovo and Metohia have become hostages of Albanian extremism and terrorism.

This disturbing outcome might have been avoided if the international community, immediately upon termination of the armed conflict in Kosovo and Metohia and bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, had applied same standards in condemning both Serbian and Albanian crimes. So far, with a single exception, only Serb perpetrators have been brought before the judges of the Hague Tribunal. Albanian assassins have thus been silently amnestied and transformed into the cast of untouchables, transformed into national heroes.

I believe it is high time the international community looked back and evaluated the results. We all must recognize, without any prejudice and fear, that actions of Albanian extremist and terrorist groups represent the main threat to the stabilization of Kosovo and Metohia and the region as a whole.

Is the international community committed to justice and fairness, at any cost? Is the international community determined to succeed in Kosovo and Metohia or not?

The United Nations Mission, headed by Mr. Harri Holkeri, must now either accomplish the results his predecessors have failed to achieve or acknowledge its defeat. In this difficult endeavor, Mr. Holkeri can count on our full support and assistance.

If we want to succeed, we must undertake vigorous and decisive measures that would lead to fulfillment of the standards that have been agreed upon, full and consistent implementation of the UNSC Resolution 1244, major progress in return of internally displaced persons, and security and freedom of movement of all ethnic communities.

Despite the commitment Belgrade and the Government of the Republic of Serbia have shown thus far in regard to the establishment of a functional multiethnic society in Kosovo and Metohia, we are legitimately concerned that Albanian extremists and terrorists will use all means available to prevent the accomplishment of this objective. Serbia has carried out all measures it has committed itself to in order to bring the process of stabilization in Kosovo and Metohia to completion.

The following urgent steps need to be taken in order to normalize the situation in Kosovo and Metohia:

1. The international mission must send a clear message on its key objectives by implementing fully UNSC Resolution 1244 and by building a multi-ethnic and tolerant community with a solid economic foundation and functioning provisional democratic institutions.

2. The international mission has to ensure that the implementation of UN SC Resolution 1244 be equitable to all parties and all ethnic groups; and that it does not favor one party or an ethnic group to the detriment of another ethnic group.

3. The international security forces, if not enlarged, must at least be kept on the current level. Their presence has to be more visible and well targeted for preventive purposes. They have to be re-organized in order to be able to address the problem of Albanian terrorist groups supported by organized crime in a more efficient way.

4. It is necessary that KFOR and UNMIK ensure full protection of the administrative line between central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohia from the side of the Province, in full cooperation with the Army and police of Serbia and Montenegro.

5. The international law enforcement officials must take a lead and be more efficient in investigating ethnically motivated crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

6. UNMIK and KFOR should provide for full protection of witnesses so that they may testify before court against persons indicted for criminal acts and organized crime. It is necessary to encourage citizens to testify against criminals without fear and ethnic bias.

7. A thorough and energetic disarmament of all citizens must be carried out.

8. It is necessary to ensure that all countries apply the same treatment to the ANA which the SRSG proclaimed a terrorist organization. The fact that ANA is differently defined either as a liberation or terrorist organization is not good and becomes highly dangerous. It is necessary to place it on the list of terrorist organizations and fully apply international standards in the fight against terrorism.

9. In light of the crimes committed by individual members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a thorough investigation must be carried out leading to its abolishment. Its key members, time and again, are implicated in crimes such as bombing of the railroad bridge near Zvecan and assisting armed insurrection in Macedonia. Their very existence shows certain hypocrisy: sorrow about the death of innocent Serbs, but unwillingness to tackle some of the root causes. As long as this organization exists, true reconciliation will not be possible.

10. Perpetrators of war crimes must be indicted by ICTY and extradited to The Hague, regardless of their present positions.

11. In tackling security challenges in the Province, such as organized crime, terrorism, etc, the security forces in Kosovo and Metohia must cooperate more closely with the security forces in the region, and with the security forces of Serbia and Montenegro in particular.

12. Albanian political leaders must be prompted to implement their formal support to returns, the democratization of the society, the rule of law, and interethnic reconciliation by providing all necessary assistance to all citizens in Kosovo and Metohia, regardless of their ethnicity.

13. Adequate measures must be taken against all officials of the provisional institutions of self-government, regardless of their ethnicity, who do not provide full and public support to the aforementioned measures.

14. Officials of the international presence in Kosovo and Metohia who refrain from carrying out the aforementioned measures in the fight on inter-ethnic violence, terrorism, and organized crime, must be held liable for their actions and adequately reprimanded.

For all the proposed measures and standards, it is necessary to develop a clear plan of set and measurable tasks and responsibilities specifying those in charge of their implementation. Much the same, it is necessary to set precise time frameworks, follow their realization, and objectively assess the accomplished results.

If the international community fails in eradicating the factor of instability in a powerful and surgical manner, if the measures it is going to undertake are weak and insignificant, it will be responsible before history for a resurrection of fascism in one part of Europe and creation of a monstrous mono-ethnic Albanian para-state on the territory that is legally recognized as a part of Serbia, i.e. Serbia and Montenegro, by the United Nations documents. This would be an act of violence validated by an act of violence.

Let me bring this address to closure by admitting that hope in me has not died. Otherwise, I would have certainly taken the floor today as the former President of the Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohia. I profoundly regret that my hope cannot bring the children assassinated in Gorazdevac to life, nor can it comfort the crippled ones. However, there is one thing it can certainly do. It can keep the door of the dialogue open for a bit longer.

I thank you for your attention.


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