June 23, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 23-06-03

CONTENTS:

PATIENTS TARGETED WITH EXPLOSIVES - GRENADE ATTACK ON THE SERB HEALTH CENTER IN KOSOVO POLJE
SERBS FORM CRISIS CENTER TO PROTECT SERVICES
BELGRADE PROMISES KOSOVO TALKS - PRISTINA-BELGRADE DIALOGUE CONFIRMED FOR JULY
CONTROVERSIES OVER THE VISIT OF JOHN PAUL II TO BANJA LUKA
PAPAL MASS STIRS PAINFUL MEMORIES FOR BOSNIAN SERBS

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PATIENTS TARGETED WITH EXPLOSIVES
After the grenade attack on the Serb run Health Center in Kosovo Polje

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Vecernje Novosti, Belgrade
20 June 2003-06-21

By D. Damjanovic

KOSOVO POLJE - The battle for the hospital in Kosovo Polje vacated by Russian physicians continues. After a clash between medical staff and police, UNMIK gave up on its temporary take over but apparently terrorists attempted to resolve the problem summarily.

On Friday morning just after midnight an explosive device was detonated and exploded about ten meters from the hospital wall. There were approximately 40 patients in the hospital, numerous physicians and medical staff, and dozens of Serbs who were guarding the building for the second night in a row.

Windows were shattered by the explosion and traces of shrapnel are visible in many places; fortunately, no one was injured. The police began the investigation after a considerable delay.

Officers arrived five hours after the explosion unlike yesterday when they arrived almost the same second as the last Russian soldier left the hospital.

"A few UNMIK policemen came. They took pictures of the scene. It was all very brief and we have reason to be suspicious in the result of their investigation," said the gathered Serbs, adding that not one perpetrator of many similar attacks in Kosovo Polje and vicinity has been captured so far.

The explosive device is assumed to have been tossed from a nearby apartment house. All Serb residents were evicted from it, as from other buildings nearby, immediately after the arrival of peacekeeping forces, and their homes were usurped by Albanians. Return Coalition (Povratak) member Randjel Nojkic visited the medical staff and gathered Serbs yesterday.

In his opinion, this was a synchronized attack by terrorists with the intent of sowing fear and panic among the Serbs of Kosovo Polje, Bresje, Ugljare, Kuzmine and other villages in order to expel them from the area as soon as possible. Nojkic sharply condemned "the frivolous attitude of UNMIK police" and what he described as its double standards. Although it responds to every Albanian call with lightning speed, when a hand grenade targeting Serbs explodes it takes several hours for the investigation to even begin.

"I've gone to the local post office," says physician Marija Balog, "for the last four years and I never had any problems.

"Just before the departure of the Russian physicians I went to get a postal money order when I was accosted and attacked by a group of Albanian young men.

"I did not know or provoke any of them. My father is Albanian; my mother is Serbian; I am married to the well-known (Albanian) actor Lajos Balog. We now live in the collective housing unit here," says Dr. Balog through tears. She adds that her nephew was killed by terrorists after the arrival of KFOR in the province.

Local Serbs blame UN mission head Michael Steiner the most for everything that is happening in Kosovo Polje. They say that the Russians were ready to leave a part of their medical equipment. Dr. Gojko Savic, a member of the Kosovo parliament presidency, met with the commander of the Russian battalion to discuss this. However, although willing to cooperate, the Russians explained that their instruments were dependent on mobile vehicles; everything else, they could leave.

Two days ago Serbian MP Momcilo Trajkovic also met with Steiner with the intent of convincing the international community not take away the only hospital that could be used by local Serbs.

Trajkovic asked that the Serb physicians already there stay in the hospital and Serb professors from the Pristina Faculty of Medicine join them. Steiner said he would invite a group of Russian physicians to stay here to work. They would be on UNMIK's payroll.

"Anything is possible except leaving the Serbs in charge of anything in the Province. This sums up Steiner's attitude toward us," says the embittered medical staff.

Since Thursday at 21,00 hours the hospital in Kosovo Polje is no longer under the protection of UNMIK police. The building is guarded by unarmed physicians and medical staff, and by Serbs from Kosovo Polje and surrounding villages. Whether they will succeed it protecting it from the bomb attacks of terrorists as well remains to be seen in the days ahead.

HYPOCRISY

On Friday UNMIK police issued a statement saying no hand grenade exploded in front of the Kosovo Polje Health Center.
"Shrapnel holes, shattered windows and other damage were apparently insufficient proof for the 'experts' who conducted the investigation. There is so much hypocrisy. It's as if someone had tossed a firecracker," says Oliver Ivanovic of the Return Coalition.

NEAR COURT BUILDING

Two nights ago members of the Finnish KFOR battalion deactivated a large quantity of explosives with a timing mechanism planted near the Pristina municipal court. Other details regarding the purpose of this act of terrorism were not provided.

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SERBS FORM CRISIS CENTER TO PROTECT SERVICES
After attempts of UNMIK to take over the Health Center in Kosovo Polje

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
21 June 2003

Serbs form crisis centre to protect services | 19:35 | Beta

KOSOVO POLJE -- Saturday -- Serbs remaining in Kosovo Polje and nearby villages have formed a crisis centre to protect and sustain their medical centre, senior school, post office and other services crucial to their survival.

Speaking to agency Beta, coordinator of the new centre Miroslav Velickovic said that it is vitally important for the 4,000 Serbs remaining in the Kosovo Polje area that their services be protected.

The forming of the crisis centre follows the refusal of Serb medical centre staff to hand responsibility to UNMIK as requested.

The new centre has invited UNMIK governor Michael Steiner and Coordination Centre for Kosovo chief Nebojsa Covic to visit the area and help address disputed issues.

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BELGRADE PROMISES KOSOVO TALKS

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BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3009968.stm

Published: 2003/06/21 17:12:59 GMT


Serbia-Montenegro has announced it will hold talks with Kosovo Albanian leaders this summer with a view to normalising relations.

President Svetozar Marovic said talks with the breakaway province - administered by the UN and Nato since the end of the war there in 1999 - would start before the end of July at an unspecified venue.

He made the announcement at the end of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Porto Carras, Greece, and the development was welcomed by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana as "really good news".

"We want to assure all European nations that we have the vision, the patience and the strength to solve the problems of the past," said Mr Marovic.

EU officials at the summit suggested Brussels as one possible venue for the talks which will cover practical issues, including energy and transport links, but also the return of Serbian refugees.

Meetings 'necessary'

Belgrade's forces withdrew from Kosovo, along with some 200,000 mainly Serbian refugees, after a 78-day Nato bombing campaign aimed at ending repression of ethnic Albanians there.

Ramadan Avdiu, an adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, said the talks were necessary.

"We have many problems, technical issues of common interest, that we need to solve," he said.

The BBC's Oana Lungescu reports from Porto Carras that what the talks will not address is Kosovo's future or ethnic Albanian calls for independence.

No-one in the EU is prepared to accept these claims, our correspondent says, but once the talks get under way between Belgrade and Pristina, the international community may not be able to avoid a decision on Kosovo's final status for much longer.

It seems, our correspondent adds, that the summit's message to Balkan leaders that they can only become members of the EU if they keep their commitments to conduct reforms and overcome ethnic strife is getting through.


PRISTINA-BELGRADE DIALOGUE CONFIRMED FOR JULY

B92
June 21, 2003



PORTO CARAS -- Saturday -- Participants at this weekend's summit in Greece's second city approved Serbian proposals that a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should commence during July.

Serbian PM Zoran Zivkovic confirmed that he spoke with EU Defence and Security chief Javier Solana two days ago, when it was agreed that the dialogue would begin next month and would address practical issues such as the return of Kosovo refugees and displaced persons, security, the fate of the missing and technical issues such as energy and transport.

Explaining why officials of Belgrade and the troubled province did not speak in Thessalonica, Zivkovic said: "Why there was no symbolic meeting today? I think it's because the problems of Kosovo cannot be solved with symbolic gestures, but rather with serious work".

"Besides", he continued, "this summit had a secondary meaning for Serbia, which was the opening of EU doors to Serbia-Montenegro, and that is a clear goal".

Zivkovic: Steiner's performance is not good enough

However, PM Zivkovic once again drew attention to Serbia's disappointment with the work of the UN Mission in Kosovo, admitting: "I have to say that during breakfast this morning Mr. Steiner tried to give me a document that would have been some kind of agreement. Quite frankly, we are extremely dissatisfied with UNMIK's work over these past two and a half years and with Mr. Steiner's mandate in particular.

Zivkovic said that Steiner will not be present at meetings between the Serbian Government and Kosovo-Albanians, adding that he feels representatives of the EU, USA and UN should all be in attendance.


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CONTROVERSIES OVER THE VISIT OF JOHN PAUL II TO BANJA LUKA

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Radio YU
June 22, 2003

POPE CALLS FOR MUTUAL FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

Today, in Banja Luka, Head of the Roman Catholic Church John Paul the Second has called to mutual forgiveness and reconciliation on this territory, confirming that some of the crimes were committed by the Catholic Church members too. According to the Pope, only in the light of real reconciliation, memory to great victims and their sufferings will not be in vain and will make an incentive for building of a new relationship of brotherhood and understanding.

Pope John Paul II has sent his greetings from Banja Luka to Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Pavle and all members of the Holy Synod, quoting that the fact that the Catholic Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church had been lately moving in the direction of the mutual understanding and respect, was the reason for joy and hope for this environment. From the holy mass, the Pope also greeted believers of the Islamic religious community and Jewish community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as representatives of the Bosnia-Herzegovina’s authorities, entities, and Banja Luka, which welcomed him in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Today, in Banja Luka, the Pope proclaimed for blessed Ivan Marec, a Catholic layman born in Banja Luka at the end of the 19th century. The Head of the Roman Catholic Church has met today at the Banja Luka airport members of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and after the holy mass, he visited the Banja Luka Bishopric, he met members of the Inter-religious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and presidents of Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

SERBS COMMEMORATE VICTIMS OF THE "USTASHA" SLAUGHER IN 1942 LED BY A FRANCISCAN MONK FROM PETRICEVAC MONASTERY

Today, in Drakulici, near Banja Luka, some villagers lit candles at the monument to the Serbs killed in the "ustasha" (Croatian Nazi) slaughter on February 7, 1942, when 2,297 Serbs were killed in one day, including 550 children. Ustashe who committed this slaughter in 1942 in Drakulic, Sargovac and Motike were led by priest Tomislav Filipovic.

Ustashe undertook this campaign starting from the Catholic monastery of Petricevac, where Pope John Paul II held a holy mass and proclaimed for blessed a Catholic layman Ivan Merc from Banja Luka. Among those who lit candles for the killed Serbs, there was Nenad Todorovic whose 86 family members were killed then.

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PAPAL MASS STIRS PAINFUL MEMORY FOR BOSNIAN SERBS

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http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters06-22-050641.asp?reg=EUROPE

MSNBC

By Dragana Dardic

      BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, June 22 - Dark memories of a bloodthirsty friar nicknamed Brother Satan were revived on Sunday as Pope John Paul held mass at the site of a monastery linked to a World War Two massacre of Orthodox Serbs.
       Over 2,000 from a village near what is now the main Bosnian Serb republic city of Banja Luka were slaughtered in the 1942 atrocity by Croat forces of the Nazi-allied Ustashe regime.
       The 83-year-old pontiff, on his first visit to the Orthodox Serb part of Bosnia, appealed for reconciliation between Serbs, Croats and Muslims after their bitter 1992-95 war. He also asked Serbs to forgive the wrongs of the Catholic Church.
       ''From this city, marked in the course of history by so much suffering and bloodshed, I ask almighty God to have mercy on the sins committed against humanity, human dignity and freedom, also by the children of the Catholic Church, and to foster in all the desire for mutual forgiveness,'' the pope said in a homily.
       In World War Two the Petricevac monastery was home to a Franciscan friar, Tomislav Filipovic Majstorovic, who became known as Fra Sotona or Brother Satan.
       According the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, he combined religion with political ideology and is said to have taken part in the massacre, slashing the throat of a child with the words: ''This is the way I baptise these bastards in the name of God.''
       The friar became commandant of the Ustashe concentration camp at Jasenovac, where he is said to have killed freely.
       On Sunday, relatives of Ustashe victims lit candles at a monument in the village of Drakulici, as the sound of singing drifted from the papal mass for some 50,000 pilgrims.
       ''It is a creepy fact that the pope holds a mass at Petricevac,'' said Jovan Babic, who has investigated the massacre in which dozens of children were also killed.
       ''If he knew what are the links between Petricevac and the massacre, he would have never held the mass there,'' Babic added.
       Nedjeljko Glamocanin, whose entire family was killed in the Ustashe onslaught, said the pope was not welcome in Banja Luka unless he apologized but there would be no violence.
       Bosnian authorities were taking no chances. Some 4,000 police backed by troops of the NATO-led peacekeeping force were providing security for the pope's one-day visit.
       Two days before he arrived several known Serb hardliners were taken into detention. Shortly before the pope's plane touched down, traffic was held up while police checked a suspect car, later found to be harmless. Posters saying ''Pope Go Home'' appeared briefly in the city but were quickly removed.
       Two years ago, one man died when an angry mob of Bosnian Serb nationalists attacked a crowd celebrating the reconstruction of a mosque in Banja Luka.

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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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