September 25, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 25-09-03


A major in the Serbia-Montenegro army has been shot and wounded
by ethnic Albanian extremists in an ambush in southern Serbia

 

SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ON FORTHCOMING KOSOVO DIALOGUE

Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church supports open and sincere dialogue but it does not mean that we can close our eyes before cruel reality which is facing our people and all non-Albanian population in Kosovo and Metohija.

Information Service of the Patriarchate
Belgrade September 24, 2003

CONTENTS:

SOLDIERS AMBUSHED IN SOUTHERN SERBIA
A major in the Serbia-Montenegro army has been shot and wounded in an ambush in southern Serbia, B92 reports.

BELGRADE CONDEMNS "TERRORIST ATTACK"

"It is another attempt to escalate the conflict in the southern municipalities and former Ground Safety Zone. After a period of quiet, Albanian terrorist groups have resumed activities", Boris Tadic, Serbia-Montenegro’s defence minister, said tonight.

CONATCT GROUP BACKS HOLKERI DIALOGUE PLAN
The Contact Group emphasised the need to deal with "standards before status", establishing good government and building trust and reconciliation before addressing the sensitive issue of the final status of the province.

KOSOVO REPATRIATES SEEK HELP FROM SERBIA
"Because of the delay in building a school we have sent our schoolchildren back to Serbia, which means we've postponed mass repatriations for another year.

OSCE WANRS OF POTENTIAL VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO
The head of the Pristina OSCE mission's Democratisation Division, Friedhelm Frischenschlager, said today that new violence could erupt in Kosovo at any time.

BELGRADE-PRISTINA TALKS LOOK ON KOSOVO LOOK SET TO START
The international community has been pushing for talks, and officials now say that -- after a number of false starts -- they are set to open soon. The talks between Serbian and Kosovar representatives are expected to focus on cooperation in the energy and communications fields, as well as on the fate of missing persons and the return of Serbian refugees.

INET - FLASH NEWS FROM KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

PERPETRATORS OF GORAZDEVAC MASSACRE STILL NOT ARRESTED - DAY 42...


More News Available on our:

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SOLDIERS AMBUSHED IN SOUTHERN SERBIA
A major in the Serbia-Montenegro army has been shot and wounded in an ambush in southern Serbia, B92 reports.

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B92, Belgrade
Belgrade, September 24, 2003



BELGRADE -- Wednesday – A major in the Serbia-Montenegro army has been shot and wounded in an ambush in southern Serbia, B92 reports.

The major was wounded when his vehicle came under machine-gun fire at about 4.30 this afternoon on the Lucane-Dobrosin road. He was transported to hospital in Vranje.

A second soldier was shot but escaped unhurt thanks to his bulletproof vest.

The Presevo valley, bordering UN-governed Kosovo, was rocked by an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001. Though a NATO-backed plan brought an end to the worst of the violence, tensions remain between the Serb and ethnic Albanian populations.

The OSCE mission to Serbia-Montenegro quickly condemned the attack, which it blamed on "terrorists". Ambassador Maurizio Massari said the attackers "do not have the right to negatively affect stability in this multi-ethnic constituency. The OSCE Mission will do everything within its mandate to ensure that stability and security are maintained in southern Serbia."

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BELGRADE CONDEMNS "TERRORIST" ATTACK
"It is another attempt to escalate the conflict in the southern municipalities and former Ground Safety Zone. After a period of quiet, Albanian terrorist groups have resumed activities", Boris Tadic, Serbia-Montenegro’s defence minister, said tonight.

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Beta News Agency
Belgrade, September 24, 2003


BELGRADE -- Wednesday – Belgrade has accused ethnic Albanian "terrorists" of trying provoke a military reaction in southern Serbia, after an army officer was shot three times in an ambush this afternoon near the town of Lucane.

"It is another attempt to escalate the conflict in the southern municipalities and former Ground Safety Zone. After a period of quiet, Albanian terrorist groups have resumed activities", Boris Tadic, Serbia-Montenegro’s defence minister, said tonight.

Major Rahman Bandic was shot in the head, chest and pelvis when attackers opened machine-gun fire on his vehicle on the Lucane-Dobrosin road. He was taken to hospital in Vranje, and later transferred to the Military-Medical Academy in Belgrade, where his condition is said to be stable.

The town of Lucane is a former stronghold of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, an ethnic Albanian extremist group that led a wave of attacks on Serbian police and army units in 2001 in the Presevo valley, a region of southern Serbia bordering Kosovo.

Tadic accused Albanian extremists of trying to provoke the Serbia-Montenegro military and win the attention of the international community. He claimed they included members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civil unit created by the United Nations mission in Kosovo from the ranks of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army.

"Our operative data indicates that these are not only members of the illegal Albanian National Army, but also people from the Kosovo Protection Corps who have their own political benefactors," he said.


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CONTACT GROUP BACKS HOLKERI DIALOGUE PLAN
The Contact Group emphasised the need to deal with "standards before status", establishing good government and building trust and reconciliation before addressing the sensitive issue of the final status of the province.

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www.b92.net

B92, Belgrade
September 24, 2003


NEW YORK -- Thursday - The Contact Group last night agreed that the first direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina should begin in Vienna in the middle of next month.

The Contact Group, which consists of the US, Russia, France, Germany, the UK and Italy, met during last night's UN General Assembly meeting.

European Union representatives were also present.

A statement issued after the meeting called for practical steps to improve the quality of life in Kosovo and reiterated that the international community would not tolerate attempts to pre-empt Kosovo's final status.

There has been no direct contact between Belgrade and Pristina since NATO spent three months bombing Yugoslavia in 1999, after which the province was placed under a UN protectorate.

The Contact Group emphasised the need to deal with "standards before status", establishing good government and building trust and reconciliation before addressing the sensitive issue of the final status of the province.

Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said last night that Holkeri had told him that the initial round of talks would be between Belgrade and Pristina officials at the highest level.

After that, Svilanovic told B92, discussions would continue between various working groups.

"We expect the Kosovo delegation to also included Serb representatives and ministers within the Kosovo Government, with consultants supplied by UNMIK.

"We have a platform for these talks. Our team will be headed by Kosovo Coordination Centre chief Nebojsa Covic and we are preparing for the dialogue," said Svilanovic.

"Covic told B92 that the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade should be one phase in the process of meeting the standards for discussion of the province's final status.

"In this dialogue there is no room for discussion of the finals status, so this issue should be put aside. "I expect the most senior officials to attend the first meeting because I see that all sides have various concerns.

"The problem of Kosovo is not the problem of any one individual, and nor should it be treated as a hot potato," said Covic.

Holkeri has indicated that he will announce a starting date for the talks after consultations with EU officials.

At the Contact Group meeting, he insisted that the Kosovo delegation must be multi-ethnic, that the Serb delegation take part in the dialogue, that he will be chairman and that representatives of the Contact Group, the EU, NATO and the US should attend.


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KOSOVO REPATRIATES SEEK HELP FROM SERBIA
"Because of the delay in building a school we have sent our schoolchildren back to Serbia, which means we've postponed mass repatriations for another year.

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SRNA News Agency, Bijeljina
September 24, 2003


KLINA -- Wednesday - Residents of Serb villages in Kosovo's Klina municipality have asked for assistance from Serbia in order to "make a living from work and not from humanitarian aid".

"We want help from Serbia, not from the NGOs and the Red Cross," said local leader Golub Doncic.

Despite constant promises from Belgrade's Kosovo Coordination Centre, no assistance has been received from Serbia, he said.

"Because of the delay in building a school we have sent our schoolchildren back to Serbia, which means we've postponed mass repatriations for another year.

"The people who are most responsible for this are our representatives in the Coordination Centre who spend absolutely no time here," said Doncic.

The chairman of the Serbian Parliament's kosovo.netmittee, Momcilo Trajkovic, ahs told the Klina residents he will intervene to ensure they receive assistance as soon as possible.

He also called on UNMIK and KFOR to improve security conditions in the region, which he described as a prerequisite for repatriations.

Trajkovic also underlined that the issue of refugee returns was one for Belgrade, because this was the only way to keep a grip on Kosovo.

A six-strong delegation from the Serbian Parliament today visited the villages of Bica and Grabac for the first time since the UN mission was deployed in the province in 1999.

In that time only ninety Serbs have returned to the villages.


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OSCE WARNS OF POTENTIAL VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO
The head of the Pristina OSCE mission's Democratisation Division, Friedhelm Frischenschlager, said today that new violence could erupt in Kosovo at any time.

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SRNA News Agency, Bijeljina
September 24, 2003


VIENNA -- Wednesday - The head of the Pristina OSCE mission's Democratisation Division, Friedhelm Frischenschlager, said today that new violence could erupt in Kosovo at any time.

Frischenschlager, who is a former Austrian foreign minister, said that attacks such as the slaying of Serb children in Gorazdevac, were in fact aimed against the international community.

"The extremist forces want the international community to withdraw from Kosovo," he told media in Vienna, adding that some Albanians also wanted Serbs out of Kosovo.

"The Serb side doesn't see itself as an ethnic minority, although Serbs make up only six per cent of the Kosovo population and all Serbs returning to Kosovo are strictly against autonomy," said Frischenschlager.


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AFTER MAY DELAYS, BELGRADE - PRISTINA TALKS ON KOSOVO LOOK SET TO START
The international community has been pushing for talks, and officials now say that -- after a number of false starts -- they are set to open soon. The talks between Serbian and Kosovar representatives are expected to focus on cooperation in the energy and communications fields, as well as on the fate of missing persons and the return of Serbian refugees.

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http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/09/23092003152026.asp

RADIO FREE EUROPE RADIO LIBERTY (USA)

By Julia Geshakova

International officials appear confident that a long-awaited direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will begin within weeks. The talks will focus on technical issues and not on the final status of the UN-administered province. Diplomats from the six-nation Contact Group are meeting today and tomorrow in New York to discuss a plan for the talks, for which analysts say both sides are ill-prepared.

Prague, 23 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Serbian and Kosovar leaders have not had direct contact since the end of NATO's air campaign in 1999 to end a crackdown by Serbian security forces against the province's majority ethnic Albanians.

The international community has been pushing for talks, and officials now say that -- after a number of false starts -- they are set to open soon. The talks between Serbian and Kosovar representatives are expected to focus on cooperation in the energy and communications fields, as well as on the fate of missing persons and the return of Serbian refugees.

The talks will not touch on the province's final status, which the international community insists will be solved by the UN Security Council, not by Belgrade or Pristina.

Over the weekend, Harri Holkeri, Kosovo's UN administrator, sounded upbeat, saying the dialogue could start "within weeks." Holkeri is to brief representatives of the Contact Group nations -- the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Germany -- on the two sides' preparedness. A possible date and venue for the talks is expected to be announced following the meeting.

The start of talks had been expected earlier this year, but they have been constantly postponed amid apprehension on both sides about the direction the talks might take.

Serbian politicians over the weekend reiterated their previous public assurances that Belgrade wants to see talks as soon as possible. Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic is expected to lead the Serbian delegation. "[Holkeri] will present his views to the Contact Group, and I expect that the Contact Group will support what must happen, and that is a dialogue. If people do not talk to each other, if they do not have a dialogue, problems cannot be solved. We have seen what happens when people do not talk, when there is no dialogue," Covic said.

Starting such talks is in Serbia's interest, since progress toward eventual European Union membership is seen as impossible without resolving the Kosovo issue.

Serbian politicians insist that emotionally laden issues -- such as security for the province's minority Serbs and the return of Serbian refugees -- should have priority, with other problems being dealt with farther down the line.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic -- meeting children from the Kosovar village of Gorazdevac over the weekend -- reiterated that security in Kosovo is a priority for his government. "It is not going to be easy," he said. "It is not going to be simple. I cannot tell you that it is going to be tomorrow, or in seven days, in 10 days or in a month. Our political activities will have different goals, but the most important goal will be [to guarantee] that children in Kosovo, regardless of their ethnicity [can] play freely, study freely, bathe freely in your rivers, that you can freely come to Belgrade but can also freely return to your Gorazdevac." In Gorazdevac last month, unknown assailants fired on a group of Serbian children bathing in a river, killing two and wounding seven.

Recent moves by Belgrade, however, hardly seem conducive to dialogue. In a declaration last month, the Serbian parliament declared Kosovo an indisputable part of Serbia, despite its UN administration -- a statement that drew the ire of politicians in Pristina bent on Kosovo's eventual independence.

Kosovar leaders also are wary that direct talks might make it easier for Serbia to dictate its own terms. Esat Stavileci, a member of the Pristina Academy of Sciences, explained to RFE/RL why he believes neither side is ready for talks: "Despite the fact that, formally, both sides have declared that they are for talks, I believe that in reality these talks will take place because the international community is pushing both sides. That is especially true for Kosova, because the talks will be taking place at the same time when [the union state of] Serbia and Montenegro has taken several steps which EU officials say will have no impact on the future status of Kosova but which, in fact, mean that [Serbia and Montenegro] wants to secure a better position at the start of talks."

Enver Hasani, a professor of international law at Pristina University, said the lead-up to the talks is further complicated by the lack of consensus among Kosovar politicians. "I think that Kosovar institutions, the Kosovar side, is not ready for a dialogue, but that does not mean they are not going to take part," Hasani said. "This is something we have yet to see. But they are not ready as far as the Kosovar political life is concerned, and that became obvious in the past few days when the Kosova Assembly could not reach a consensus on the platform, the representation and the procedures for a dialogue with the Serbs and with Serbia."

Last week (18 September), the Kosovo Assembly said dialogue with Belgrade is not a priority and that problems should be solved inside the province.

There are a number of practical issues related to the planned talks that have not yet been agreed, including at what level they will take place, who will mediate and who will guarantee any possible agreements are implemented.

Kosovar leaders insist these issues must be resolved before talks begin. Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi recently said U.S. and European Union involvement is necessary if the talks are to succeed.

(The Kosovo Subunit of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service contributed to this report.)

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INET - FLASH NEWS FROM KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

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www.inet.co.yu
I*Net News, Belgrade

KOSOVO AND METOHIJA NEWS

Tuesday 23 September 2003

23:20 In talks with the chairwoman of the first roundtable of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, Elizabeth Rehn, today Serbia and Montenegro human and minority rights minister Rasim Ljajic stated that extremist forces in Kosovo and Metohija are attempting to use incidents to internationalize the issue of the status of the province while the state through measures it is undertaking is maintaining the complete support of the region and encouraging the integration of ethnic Albanians into system institutions.

21:40 A delegation of the Serbian justice ministry headed by minister Vladan Batic will travel to The Hague this week to seek agreement with the Hague on acceptance of evidence the tribunal possesses in connection with the Telecom Serbia scandal. Another topic of discussion will be submitted evidence regarding war crimes committed by the leaders of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army during conflict in Kosovo in 1999 which will enable the international court to issue indictments against them.

21:20 UNMIK police from Pristina have begun to stop and penalize drivers on the territory of Leposavic municipality who do not have Kosovo license plates on their vehicles, refusing to take into consideration proof of insurance, stated Leposavic mayor Velimir Bojovic today. "The agreement with Serb authorities regarding the use of Kosovo plates in the north of the Province has not been realized, that is, it was agreed that the problem be deferred until final solution. Despite this, yesterday a special UNMIK police unit from Pristna showed up in Leposavic and began to stop, penalize and confiscate driver's licenses from drivers whose vehicles do not have Kosovo plates," said Bojovic.

16:00 Serb National Council of Northern Kosovo president Milan Ivanovic assessed today that the indictment issued against him by the international council of the court in Kosovska Mitrovica is politically motivated.

14:00 The political leaders of the Kosovo Albanians have no common position with respect to the upcoming dialogue with Belgrade. The only thing they agree on is the desire for Kosovo to be an independent state, write today's media.

11:20 Serbian representatives of Kosovo provisional institutions, local self-government and the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija in talks with Belgrade analyzed the situation in Kosovo in detail within the framework of preparations for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and in order to ease the living conditions of Serbs and other ethnic communities in Kosovo.

09:40 Serbia and Montenegro president Svetozar Marovic stated that he expects the international Contact Group and the special representative of the UN secretary general Harri Holkeri to finally determine the date for the beginning of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

Monday 22 September 2003

20:40 A bus returning children from Gorazdevac back to their home after a field trip to Belgrade was stoned today near Srbica in central Kosovo.

20:20 Representatives of UNMIK and the World Bank signed two agreements on economic and technical assistance to Kosovo in Pristina today with a total value of 4.8 million euros.

20:00 Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic met today with representatives of the Serbian national community in Kosovo provisional institutions, as well as with representatives of the Return Coalition (Povratak), local self-government and the leadership team of the Coordinating Center, the information service advised.

19:40 Serb National Council of Northern Kosovo president Milan Ivanovic denied the charges in the indictment against him before the District Court in Kosovska Mitrovica today. Ivanovic is charged with violent behavior during the unrest on April 8 of last year in the northern part of the city.

16:00 The Hague tribunal has rejected the requests of members of the former so-called KLA Haradin Balaj and Isak Musliu, indicted for war crimes in Kosovo during 1999, to be provisionally released, the Hague tribunal advised. The two are suspected of the murder of 22 Serbian and Albanian civilians in the Lapusnik war camp in Glogovac municipality, as well as for the illegal detention and torture of prisoners. The same indictment applies to camp commander Fatmir Limaj, whose request for provisional release was already rejected earlier. In the justification of its decision the tribunal council states that it is uncertain that the accused would return for the beginning of trial, as UNMIK was unable to provide guarantees to that effect.

13:40 Serbia and Montenegro president Svetozar Marovic assessed that it is necessary to begin dialogue on Kosovo as soon as possible and that the meeting of the Contact Group in the near future in New York may significantly contribute to bringing it about. "We need dialogue that will stop the violence and guarantee everyone who lives in Kosovo the most basic thing of all - the right to life," said Marovic in an interview for the Podgorica daily "Dan".

11:40 A group of Kosovo Serb journalists was intercepted yesterday while returning from liturgy in the church in Obilic by a vehicle from which an unknown person threatened them with death. Reporters for KIM Radio and The Southern Voice (Glas Juga) reported that a man in camouflage uniform in a black VW Golf was gesturing by drawing his finger across his throat, slowing their vehicle down on the way to Pristina. The incident was reported to police. Reporters for KIM Radio and The Southern Voice attended liturgy in the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother in God in Obilic served by Bishop Artemije of Artemije of Raska and Prizren for the first time since the deployment of UNMIK in Kosovo. The liturgy was attended by several hundred Serbs from Obilic and surrounding villages.

10:40 The international community is insisting that the Pristina delegation in upcoming dialogue with Belgrade include representatives of the Serbs from Kosovo. According to Milorad Todorovic, one of the participants in the meeting between Return Coalition representatives and UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri, this was the first topic of discussion.


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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.
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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The views expressed by the authors of newspaper articles or other texts which are not official communiqués or news reports by the Diocese are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Serbian Orthodox Church

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