April 21, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 21-04-03

CONTENTS:

EDITORIAL:
TRANSFER OF COMPETENCES IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS WOULD ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE IN KOSOVO

Transfer of competences to provincial and municipal institutions in the atmosphere of systematic human rights violations and dramatically low level of inter-ethnic tolerance will have serious consequences for the process of returns and normal life of non-majority communities, primarily Kosovo Serbs

INTER-ETHNIC HOSTILITY REMAINS IN KOSOVO ALMOST 4 YEARS AFTER THE WAR,
The Pristina Serbs, grouped for security reasons in one building in the city's Ulpiana district, have been exposed to numerous insults, while often pelted with stones from windows of neighboring buildings (Agence France Presse)

KOSOVO GROUP LABELED AS TERRORIST, Washington Post
Albanian National Army (ANA) wants to unite ethnic Albanian lands in the Balkans. It said this week on its Web site that it was behind the bomb attack, which it described as intended to cut the railway connecting what it called Serbian-occupied parts of Kosovo with Belgrade. Steiner said the bombing was aimed at killing "a large number of innocent civilians and damaging public property."

OVERLOOKING KOSOVO CORE PROBLEMS - Washington Times - letters
However, one little statistic explodes such a trite explanation. In 1961, when Tito's Albanian communists ruled Kosovo, the percentage of Serbs living in Kosovo was 27 percent, while Albanians numbered 67 percent. In 1991, the Serbian population had been reduced to only 11 percent, while Albanians had increased to 82 percent. This should prompt the question: Who was being ethnically cleansed and by whom? Answering this question might have prevented the U.S.-led NATO intervention in Kosovo that has wreaked so much havoc.

KOSOVO SITUATION DETERIORATING, TANJUG
Describing the Kosovo state bodies as “ethnic Albanian institutions”, Ivanovic said that Serbs could not collaborate with the project to build an Albanian state.

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EDITORIAL:
 
TRANSFER OF COMPETENCES IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS WOULD ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE IN KOSOVO

Transfer of competences to provincial and municipal institutions in the atmosphere of systematic human rights violations and dramatically low level of inter-ethnic tolerance will have serious consequences for the process of returns and normal life of non-majority communities, primarily Kosovo Serbs

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ERP KIM Info-Service
April 21, 2003

Transfer of competencies to provincial and municipal institutions in the atmosphere of systematic human rights violations and dramatically low level of inter-ethnic tolerance will have serious consequences for the process of returns and normal life of non-majority communities, primarily Kosovo Serbs.

There is nothing more normal than to give local people the right to rule themselves, argue some internationals, overlooking the fact that there is not "one people of Kosovo", but different ethnic communities with totally opposed views for the future of the Province. These communities, primarily Albanians and Serbs, are divided by a deep cultural, linguistic and religious gap and probably have less in common than the peoples of Turkey and Argentina.

Compared to Kosovo Albanians, who have been strongly supported by the international community in the last years, the Kosovo Serb community is in a much more unfavorable position. Two-thirds (230,000) of its population are still not able to return to their homes after the war, while the large part of the Serb-owned property is still usurped by Kosovo Albanians. The Serb community cannot take meaningful part in local institutions, which remain almost completely dominated by ethnic Albanians. The few Serbs who formally sit in local municipal councils are not active participants but only serve as a smoke-screen for non-existent multiethnicity. These Serbs cannot even freely move outside of the municipal building and are regularly escorted to meetings in police vehicles. Any attempt to contest decisions negative for the Serb community is easily overruled by a majority vote. Thus far there has been at least an UNMIK administrator who could intervene in cases of obvious violation; but once all the competencies at the local level are handed over to Kosovo Albanians, the situation for local Serbs will become desperate.

According to the testimony of UNMIK representatives, most of the municipal institutions are incredibly corrupted. Those who enjoy the protection of a powerful clan or have enough money can get everything. Of course, this does not apply to Serbs, who still live as pariahs in Kosovo. In Albanian-dominated areas, Serbs do not have even free access to these institutions because they lack freedom of movement. For them, contacting and complaining to UNMIK staff is the only way to achieve something and protect their vital interests. For most problems, Serbs in these areas still ask the assistance of KFOR. It is only after certain pressure from UNMIK and KFOR that local Albanian authorities will agree to do something for the Serbs. Without these "protection mechanisms", Serbs will be left completely at the mercy of local Albanian authorities, who would be glad to see Serbs finally leave Kosovo forever.

In order to carry out the process of transferring further competencies, it is essential first to build functioning institutions which will not be used as a tool for violation of human rights of others and where all representatives of national communities will be able to work freely and responsibly. However, in the latest report of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, it is said that "Kosovo still has some way to go in establishing representative and functioning institutions" and the primary reason for this is seen in "a tendency of local Kosovo Albanian leaders and the Provisional Institutions to focus on symbols and image, and to publicly promote positions contrary to UN resolutions". Kosovo Serb leaders have warned UNMIK many times so far that Kosovo institutions are being used as a tool for ethnic discrimination and pressure against the remaining Serb population.

In such an atmosphere, Kosovo Serbs do not feel encouraged to accept these institutions as their own and, quite naturally, tend to form their own institutions in order to protect their rights. Post-war Kosovo is being built as a completely ethnic Albanian society with flags of the Republic of Albania all around the UN-administrated Province, with a media intolerant of the Slavic population, and with suppression of everything belonging to Orthodox Christian tradition and culture. Dozens of Serb Christian cultural and religious monuments still remain in ruins and not a single one of them has been repaired or reconstructed after they were demolished by Albanian extremists. The reason is quite simple: they would be probably blown up the next day after reconstruction. After two years of Serb participation in Kosovo institutions, the Kosovo Serb deputies have not managed to improve the life of their people. They have not even succeeded in ensuring the right of use of their own language and script in the institutions themselves.

Mechanisms for preventing ethnic discrimination and providing functioning human rights protection are generally non-existent in Kosovo or they exist only on paper. This has been confirmed many times by Kosovo Ombudsperson Marek Antony Nowicky, who remains very pessimistic about Serb returns and their normal integration into a generally intolerant ethnic Albanian society. In one of his latest reports, Mr. Nowicky said: "The situation of residents of Kosovo who are not of Albanian ethnicity remains very difficult. Many, in particular Serbs and Roma, remain isolated in ghettos and face great danger should they venture out of those ghettos without armed international escorts. Their extremely restricted freedom of movement has serious repercussions on all aspects of normal life: access to employment, medical care, schools, and public services generally. The provision of public utilities (electricity, water, etc.) to these ghettos is at a much lower standard than to the rest of the population."

In reality, ordinary Kosovo Serbs cannot find any effective way to protect their interests and the only way to make their voices heard is to appeal to Belgrade and ask Serbian authorities to use their international contacts to present their case. In the event that institutions are finally handed over to "the people of Kosovo", which practically means to Kosovo Albanians, local Serbs will find themselves in the absurd position of having to ask for protection from those who have been systematically violating their human rights. That is why one of the first consequences of this process would be depopulation of Serb-inhabited areas. Kosovo would increasingly slide towards full mono-ethnicity.

This would also be fatal discouragement for Serb returnees who naturally do not want to return where their lives and the lives of their children will be constantly at risk. Some UNMIK officials claim that Serbs do not want to integrate and accept Kosovo reality, but they fail to understand that it is impossible to integrate into a society build for one ethnic group only and feel safe in surroundings where not one single crime against Serbs has been fully resolved. It is absolutely absurd to expect Serbs to send their children to Albanian schools where they will be indoctrinated with Albanian nationalistic myths which deny Slavic and Christian Orthodox culture. How can anybody expect young Kosovo Serbs to return to Kosovo and work normally in an Albanian-run factory if they would constantly be in fear of kidnapping or murder? Even in the event that they are provided with freedom of movement, Serb returnees would inevitably feel like foreigners in surroundings where only Albanian is spoken, a language which the great majority of Serbs do not understand.

Kosovo Serbs are not against the transfer of competencies to fully functional provincial and municipal institutions where strong mechanisms for protection of human rights exist, but they cannot accept being handed over to institutions to be used as a tool for repression. If Steiner nevertheless remains determined to carry out this process, Kosovo Serbs will inevitably have to organize their own parallel institutions, making the prospects of an integrated multi-ethnic administration in Kosovo even more remote.

D.S.

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INTER-ETHNIC HOSTILITY REMAINS IN KOSOVO ALMOST FOUR YEARS AFTER THE WAR

The Pristina Serbs, grouped for security reasons in one building in the city's Ulpiana district, have been exposed to numerous insults, while often pelted with stones from windows of neighboring buildings.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE (AFP)
Sunday, 20-Apr-2003 7:30AM

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, April 20 (AFP) - Almost four years after the United Nations established its mission in Kosovo, inter-ethnic hostility is still widespread and the few Serbs remaining in the capital Pristina are afraid to circulate freely in the city.

Surrounded by the ethnic Albanian majority, many of whom would like to see them thrown out of Kosovo, the Serbs in Pristina are pessimistic about their future.

Some 45,000 Serbs lived in the Kosovo capital, which was home to some 125, 000 people before the 1998-99 war in the southern Serbian province. The war ended with the withdrawal of Belgrade forces under pressure of a NATO bombing campaign.

Since 1999, the population of Pristina has increased to more than 500,000, but only around 200 of them are Serbs.

The Pristina Serbs, grouped for security reasons in one building in the city's Ulpiana district, have been exposed to numerous insults, while often pelted with stones from windows of neighboring buildings.

"The psychological pressure is enormous. Our life is worse than in a prison, " one of them, Jelena, told AFP.

Jelena, who refused to give her last name, said daily life has gotten worse since members of the NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR), deployed throughout the province since 1999, left the neighbourhood last October.

The removal of many checkpoints was ordered by UN administrator Michael Steiner, who believed that the security situation has improved sufficiently.

The checkpoints in the nearby Serb enclaves have disappeared, but KFOR has also increased its patrols in return.

However, without the permanent presence of KFOR troops, Serbs in Ulpiana today feel almost abandoned.

"Steiner's opinion was based on statistics that the tension between the communities has been significantly reduced, but he is not the one living with it every day, as we do," Milan said.

The Serb families in the neighbourhood have only one shop, poorly supplied, without fresh vegetables and fruit. The goods are brought to the shop by a tiny UN van coming from the Serb enclave of Gracanica, near Pristina.

"The UN (officials) believe we can go shopping by public buses, but this is absurd, as we would all be beaten up," Tanja said.

Serbs have also given up driving or even having private cars. There is no access for them to the parking lot in front of their building, while their cars in the past have often been damaged by Albanian extremists.

Around 20 Serb pupils are still escorted by KFOR soldiers to the school in a Serb village, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Pristina.

The community's resources are very low. Only 15 of them are employed. They receive financial support from Belgrade, but consider it insufficient. Sometimes, they can find a temporary job, but for the lowest wages.

As there are no cafes in the neighbourhood, some of the Serbs gather in the shop to talk and encourage or support each other.

In the evening, they continue their discussions by candlelight, as power cuts are common in Kosovo. The dispensary and billiard room are then deserted, as well as a small yard where children usually play ball.

Serbs from Pristina have refused to go to the "collective centers" in Serbia and Montenegro where some 200,000 other Serbs now live after fleeing their homes in Kosovo.

Those who have remained in Kosovo, some 80,000 living mostly in the enclaves, wait and hope that the international community will finally become interested in their fate.

"If Kosovo gets independence, as the Albanians have demanded, the Serb enclaves in the province will create their defensive units and fight. We will all leave Pristina to join them," Milan said.

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KOSOVO GROUP LABELED AS TERRORIST

ANA wants to unite ethnic Albanian lands in the Balkans. It said this week on its Web site that it was behind the bomb attack, which it described as intended to cut the railway connecting what it called Serbian-occupied parts of Kosovo with Belgrade. Steiner said the bombing was aimed at killing "a large number of innocent civilians and damaging public property."

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THE WASHINGTON POST
Friday, April 18, 2003; Page A17


PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro -- Kosovo's U.N. governor took the unprecedented step of branding an Albanian rebel group a terrorist organization after it said it was responsible for a bomb attack on a railway in a Serbian part of the province.

The ruling by German diplomat Michael Steiner means that members of the Albanian National Army (ANA) can be jailed for up to 40 years. The move suggests that Western officials are starting to take more seriously a group that some diplomats have dismissed as little more than a band of criminals.

ANA wants to unite ethnic Albanian lands in the Balkans. It said this week on its Web site that it was behind the bomb attack, which it described as intended to cut the railway connecting what it called Serbian-occupied parts of Kosovo with Belgrade. Steiner said the bombing was aimed at killing "a large number of innocent civilians and damaging public property."

U.N. police spokesman Barry Fletcher said the remains of two people were found by a bridge damaged in Saturday night's explosion near Zvecan in northern Kosovo.

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OVERLOOKING KOSOVO'S CORE PROBLEMS

However, one little statistic explodes such a trite explanation. In 1961, when Tito's Albanian communists ruled Kosovo, the percentage of Serbs living in Kosovo was 27 percent, while Albanians numbered 67 percent. In 1991, the Serbian population had been reduced to only 11 percent, while Albanians had increased to 82 percent. This should prompt the question: Who was being ethnically cleansed and by whom? Answering this question might have prevented the U.S.-led NATO intervention in Kosovo that has wreaked so much havoc.

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THE WASHINGTON TIMES - LETTERS
Published April 19, 2003


I found it very interesting to read Helle Dale's column "Iraq isn't Kosovo" (Op-Ed, April 9) and the extended response to it by Edward Mortimer ("Cross-eyed on Kosovo," Letters, April 13). As the director of communications in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Mortimer sought to correct "a number of inaccuracies" in Mrs. Dale's column, namely that "four years and $2.4 billion in international aid later, Kosovo remains in a dreary, hopeless limbo."

Yet, both writers failed to identify the critical developments that led to the unfortunate situation in Kosovo. President Clinton, in justifying the U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, declared that the goal was a multi-ethnic Kosovo. Developments since the bombing ended provide grim testimony and ample evidence that Mr. Clinton's goal was a forlorn hope.

The new rulers of Kosovo, the majority Albanians, have destroyed or damaged Serbian Orthodox Churches, many dating back to the Middle Ages. Many of their cemeteries have also been vandalized and desecrated. Serbian Orthodox priests, nuns, men, women and children have been murdered. Wells have been poisoned, animals killed and crops burned.

In addition, 240,000 of the minority Serbs, Roma, Jews and other non-Albanians have been expelled from Kosovo. Few of them have been able to return, and those who did were and are under the protection of KFOR (NATO-Kosovo Force) or U.N. troops.

Such facts demonstrate the failure of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to make Mr. Clinton's futile dream come true. UNMIK and NATO-KFOR seem to blithely accept and explain these Albanian actions as "revenge" for earlier Serb actions.

However, one little statistic explodes such a trite explanation. In 1961, when Tito's Albanian communists ruled Kosovo, the percentage of Serbs living in Kosovo was 27 percent, while Albanians numbered 67 percent. In 1991, the Serbian population had been reduced to only 11 percent, while Albanians had increased to 82 percent. This should prompt the question: Who was being ethnically cleansed and by whom? Answering this question might have prevented the U.S.-led NATO intervention in Kosovo that has wreaked so much havoc.

NORMAN F. NESS
Landenberg, Pa.

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KOSOVO SITUATION "DETERIORATING"
Describing the Kosovo state bodies as “ethnic Albanian institutions”, Ivanovic said that Serbs could not collaborate with the project to build an Albanian state.

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TANJUG News Agency
April 20, 2003


KRALJEVO -- Sunday – The situation in Kosovo is deteriorating, with stepped up institutional repression through the transfer of some powers of the UN mission to the province’s temporary institutions, Kosovo Serb leader Milan Ivanovic said today.

Describing the Kosovo state bodies as “ethnic Albanian institutions”, Ivanovic said that Serbs could not collaborate with the project to build an Albanian state.

The leader of the Serb National Council of Northern Kosovo told media in the south Serbian city of Kraljevo that the eventual goal of this project was to unite Kosovo, with parts of Macedonia, Montenegro, northern Greece and Albanian to form “Greater Albania”.

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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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