July 21, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 21-07-03

CONTENTS:

COVIC: KOSOVO - MORE THAN AUTONOMY BUT LESS THAN A STATE
TWO SERB HOUSES IN OLD PART OF PRIZREN BURNED DOWN
GROUP OF SERBS SAY GUN FIRE WAS OPENED IN THEIR VICINITY
PREMIER ZIVKOVIC - KOSOVO AMONG PRIORITY DISCUSSIONS IN U.S.
NOVOSTI: WHEN BELLS CEASE TO PEAL
TWO STRONG EXPLOSIONS IN PRISTINA

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COVIC: KOSOVO - MORE THAN AUTONOMY, BUT LESS THAN A STATE
COVIC: "No politician in Serbia has right to renounce any part of Kosovo and Metohija... because what Jerusalem is to Jews, that is Kosovo and Metohija for Serbs"

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Vecernje Novosti, Belgrade Daily
Belgrade, July 20, 2003

(photo: Dr. Nebojsa Covic, Serbian Vice-Premier and the Chief of the Coordinatin Center)

"No politician in Serbia has right to renounce any part of Kosovo and Metohija. It is very important that the ruling politicians and those who will come after us should make an oath, because what Jerusalem is to Jews, that is Kosovo and Metohija for Serbs, no matter how others react to this", said Dr. Covic, Serbian vice-premier and the chief of the state Coordination center speaking for Palma Plus TV.

"No politician in Serbia should demonstrate publicly that Kosovo and Metohija is a burden and something which obstructs our path to integrations. In the last time we have seen many lobbists who call for independence of Kosmet. There is also a new, very dangerous approach - status before standards, said Covic. The right aproach should be "standards before status", which means normal life, liberal democracy, freedom of movement, rule of law and order and return of all displaced persons. Only in this way we can resolve the problem of Kosovo and Metohija and fulfill requirements of the Resolution 1244. Its implementation is essential, and that is a wide autonomy in which all residents of Kosovo and Metohija will be granted substantial rights, the rights larger than those of an autonomy but lesser than those of a state. All this is possible only within the frameworkd of the sovreign state which is called Serbia, concluded Covic.


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Serbian quarter "Potkaljaja"  in Prizren - ghost town, January 2003
 

TWO SERB HOUSES IN OLD PART OF PRIZREN BURNED DOWN

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ERP KIM Info Service
Prizren, July 20, 2003

(Street scene from the old Potkaljaja quarter in Prizren, ERP KIM archive)

On Saturday, July 19 at about 19,00 hours a fire broke out at two Serb houses in Sveta Nedelje Street in the Serb quarter of Potkaljaja in Prizren. The fire first engulfed the house of Dragan Levic, who fled Prizren in 1999, and then spread to the neighboring house owned by Todorka Jovanovic, who is also a displaced person and who visited her home a few days ago.

The house of Dragan Levic burned down completely and the house of Todorka Jovanovic sustained heavy damage. The firefighters who arrived in the meanwhile were unable to stop the destruction of the fire in time. KFOR units blocked off the entire Serb quarter. According to official information, no one was hurt; however, the material damage is enormous. An investigation is in progress.

REMAINING SERBS IN PRIZREN DISTURBED

The remaining Serbs in Prizren are visibly disturbed because after the end of the war in June 1999 Albanian extremists set dozens of Serb houses in the Potkaljaja quarter on fire. Serb houses have not been set on fire for some time; consequently, the burning down of these uninhabited houses has caused renewed fears of a repeat of the events of four years ago. There are currently some 60 Serbs living in the town of Prizren, most of them elderly. The old quarter of Potkaljaja, inhabited primarily by Serbs before the war, is today largely empty. In the immediate vicinity of this quarter is the seat of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and St. George Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, which are still protected by German KFOR troops.

The Serbs in Prizren are overwhelmingly convinced that the fire was set intentionally in order to prevent expelled Serbs from Prizren from returning to their homes.

DIOCESE OF RASKA AND PRIZREN CONCERNED BY EVENTS IN POTKALJAJA QUARTER

In 1999 the Diocese of Raska and Prizren repeatedly requested that UNMIK and KFOR provide better security in the Potkaljaja quarter and protect it from systematic destruction. Unfortunately, this quarter, once the pride of Prizren, has been largely converted into an ash heap and garbage dump. The Diocese has always insisted that the return of Serb refugees to their homes is the best way of returning life to the old part of Prizren.

On the other hand, strong opposition from the Albanian side and the desire to force the Serbs to sell their property persists. Under pressure and threats that their houses will be burned down, some of the Serbs from Potkaljaja have already sold their homes to Albanians. Among the first Albanians to purchase homes there is Adem Demaci, the former spokesman of the Kosovo Liberation Army and presently a human rights activists, who purchased one of the oldest and most beautiful Serb houses in Potkaljaja.

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cleaning the ruins
 

repairing overturned tombstones

KFOR soldier distributes food

KFOR offers medical assistance



 

 

 

 

 

 

 





scenes from the life of Serb returnees to Belo Polje village near Pec

GROUP OF SERB RETURNEES SAY THAT AUTOMATIC GUN FIRE WAS OPENED IN THEIR VICINITY IN BELO POLJE VILLAGE

Automatic gun fire opened in immediate proximity of a group of Serbs who came to visit a burned down home

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ERP KIM INFO SERVICE
Pec, July 20, 2003

Serb returnees from Belo Polje village claim that unknown person(s) opened fire from an automatic weapon in the immediate vicinity while they were cleaning up the debris of one of their burned down houses in Belo Polje village, near Pec.

Radomir Kostic, Arandjel Arsenijevic, Davor Popovic and Zivko Bozic went to visit the house of Radomir Kostic this morning not far from the improvised camp for returnees in the village of Belo Polje near Pec. As they were clearing up the debris unknown person(s) opened fire from an automatic weapon not far from them.

The Serbs claimed that this was an attempt of intimidation. On the other hand the only Serb deputy in the Pec Municipality, Mihailo Lazovic said to journalists that the shots came from the nearby military shooting ground which is used by KFOR.

Local Serbs confirmed that the Italian patrol immediately came to the location to investigate what happened.

According to the Serb returnees in Belo Polje this is the first attempt to date to frighten the Serb returnees to Belo Polje near Pec. A group of 25 Serb returnees came back to the ruins of their burned down homes on July 14 with the intent of clearing up the debris and rebuilding their houses. Italian KFOR units are providing the wider area of the village with mobile patrols. Fixed control checkpoints were purposely not set up, according to KFOR representatives, in order "to avoid provoking the local Albanians."


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PREMIER ZIVKOVIC - KOSOVO AMONG PRIORITY DISCUSSIONS IN FORTHCOMING VISIT TO U.S.

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Radio Serbia-Montenegro
20.July 03. 15.35

(photo: Premier Zivkovic (r) with the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade W.Montgomery (L))

The Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Zivkovic,declared that one of the objectives of his forthcoming visit to the USA would be to appeal to that country as the most influential world factor, to give its contribution in the resolution of problems in Kosmet, since the Government of Serbia could not improve the situation there alone.

We have fullfilled our international obligations as far as Kosovo is concerned, but the other party has not. As a result we have a criminal privatization in which UNMIK is selling the property of the Serbian state, and killings of Serbs there continue being frequent, declared Zivkovic in an interview given to the Studio B television channel.

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Ancient dome of the Pec Patriarchate still guards the entrance to the mountain valley

WHEN BELLS CEASE TO PEAL

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Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade
July 14, 2003

By Dragan Damjanovic

For centuries various wars have been waged in Kosovo and Metohija and many armies have roared across its territory. However, until and during the most recent war, when peacekeeping forces placed the province under a protectorate, there were few cases of destruction, burning and desecration of medieval Serbian holy shrines. Turkish historians claim even today that individual Osmanites and "their bashiboslug" (servants from the ranks of the Arnauti or Albanians) destroyed Bogorodica Ljeviska and Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren.

During the "Turkish age" the famous fresco in Gracanica to which the famous poet Milan Rakic dedicated the poem "They have gouged out your eyes, o beauteous image " ("Simonida") was also damaged. But there are also positive examples in these times. An Albanian family from Rugove near Pec passed down the guardianship of Visoki Decani and the Pec Patriarchate from generation to generation. The Bajrami family from Mazgite near Obilic protected the monument to Serb heroes at Gazimestan during the past century.

"During the war several mosques were damaged. After the arrival of peacekeeping forces, 113 churches and monasteries were destroyed and burned and 60 Orthodox Christian cemeteries were devastated; ten of these were completely dug under with a tractor," emphasizes Dr. Slobodan Kostic, one of the ordained Serb intellectuals from Kosovo and Metohija.

MONASTERIES UNDER GUARD

There are so many monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metohija that KFOR does not have enough troops to guard them all. According to some estimates, a hundred thousand troops would not be enough to protect just the holy shrines there.

The clergy has only words of praise for troops assigned to protect their holy shrines. Last year they begged KFOR not to send away the Italian troops protecting Visoki Decani and the Patriarchate. They, as well as others, take part in common prayers with the "isolated clergy" during times of Christian holidays.

For the first two years after deployment, British troops secured the church of St. Nicholas in Pristina, assisted occasionally by Scotsmen. They were subsequently replaced by the UNMIK police, which was withdrawn from the front of the church during the mandate of Michael Steiner, as well as from the church of the Holy Savior in the city center. The local authorities rushed to remove the magnificent incomplete latter church, claiming it was illegally built on land owned by the university. When the Diocese of Raska and Prizren submitted proper documentation to the international administration with proof that the church was legally built and what is more, built on the foundation of an older church destroyed in long ago wars, the efforts to destroy it ceased. In the only church in this city only parish priest Miroslav Popadic remains. The church is visited by only seven believers, the few elderly men and women, who remain living in the nearby streets.

"Immediately upon their arrival, the soldiers gave me, as well as the remaining old people, a whistle and a horn so we can make noise in case of danger or attack against us," emphasizes Fr. Popadic. "However, since even the UNMIK police has withdrawn, the stoning of the church has become increasingly frequent. The most recent incident took place some 10 days ago. I surrendered my own life long ago to the will of God and the only thing I care about is protecting the church. In it there is an iconostasis so precious that it is the only one of its kind in our country. However, no one here understands that."

Fr. Popadic shows evidence of a new problem as well, a telephone bill in the amount of 1,700 euros. He has not received a regular salary in almost a year. Due to the lack of money his telephone has been disconnected. He could not pay the bill of 2,400 German marks four years ago.

"Even if the church was not subjected to stoning, the problem of high bills is further proof of our inability to survive here. For us here they only supplanted the earlier kidnappings, murders and burnings," laments Fr. Popadic. He adds that he does not use the horn because it cannot be heard further than the gates of the church, which is surrounded by streets full of automobiles. The seven believers do not blow their whistles, either; in the last few months, they have not had any major problems.

TREASURE REDUCED TO ASHES

In the 113 destroyed churches and monasteries that have been destroyed, there were frescoes, iconostases and many things whose material and even greater spiritual value cannot be calculated in terms of money. This treasure of inestimable value has been reduced to heaps of ash. Two monks have also been kidnapped and killed in bestial fashion. However, increasing numbers of young people from Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska and other European countries where Serbs live aspire to live the monastic life in the holy shrines of Kosovo and Metohija. Today there are some 150 of them, twice as many as before the war.

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TWO STRONG EXPLOSIONS IN PRISTINA DOWNTOWN
Investigators believe the explosions were attacks, but there are currently no suspects and the motive for the attacks is unknown.

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UNMIK Police
Press Release

Police are investigating two explosions that occurred in the center of Pristina shortly after 21:00h today. The first explosion was at the Municipal Court building and the second happened a very short time later outside Police Station # 2. There are no known casualties from the explosions and the only confirmed damage was to a UN vehicle parked outside Station # 2. Officers have not yet been able to fully inspect the Court building and any damage at that location may not be confirmed until daytime.

Investigators believe the explosions were attacks, but there are currently no suspects and the motive for the attacks is unknown.

The Pristina Regional Serious Crimes Squad is in charge of the investigation.


Derek CHAPPELL
Chief of Information

Jack KRAUS
Public Information Officer
UNMIK Police Main HQ Tel. 038-504-605-5110/FAX 5324
Pristina E-mail: policepresspristina@yahoo.com

Barry FLETCHER Police Regional HQ
Deputy Chief of Information Pristina


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SUGGESTED LINK
"Rastko" Internet Library of Serbian Culture


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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