ERP KIM Newsletter
STATEMENT BY DR. COVIC
AT THE SERBIAN PARLIAMENT SESSION
Joint Coordinating Center of Serbia-Montenegro and
the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija
Statement by Dr
Vice-President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia
and President of the Coordination Center of Serbia and Montenegro and the
Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohia
at the session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia
Belgrade, 27 August 2003.
Esteemed Ms Chairperson, esteemed national deputies,
Let us call things by their proper name: the situation in Kosovo and
Metohia is bad. Now it is clear to many around the world that in Kosovo
and Metohia one humanitarian disaster has been replaced by another, that
this kind of caring for one people, meant a tragedy for the other. The
self-proclaimed Kosovo Liberating Army, among them well-known crimes who
have expelled 250.000 Serbs and other non-Albanians, have changed uniforms
and insignia, have integrated into the institutions of the new Kosovo
order, although everything within it remained unchanged: the policy of
separatism, violent acts, endemic hatred for Serbs.
The policy advocated by the democratic government of Serbia, the
historical reconciliation of Serbs and Albanians, is still considered in
certain Albanian circles a dangerous idea!
The Hague Tribunal has not yet indicted the KLA leaders for many doubtless
crimes, for genocide, for ethnic cleansing of the Province and for
expelling Serbs and Roma.
Under Kouchner's, Haekkerup′s, and especially Steiner's administration,
KFOR and UNMIK seldom entered into conflicts with the policy of the
militant Albanians. This should be understood to mean more than just
inertia and less than programmed acting. Fear has silenced numerous
international officials, who became hostages of Albanian separatism and
terrorism. For reasons of their personal security they attempt not to turn
the rage of Albanian executors against themselves, and that is why Serbs
and Roma are not returning to their homes in Kosovo and Metohia. That is
why the existential danger persists for the remaining Serbs and Roma in
Kosovo and Metohia and why their uncertainty is growing.
This is the situation that today the National Assembly is to express its
opinion on. On the ways out. On the Serbian state and national response to
the situation in Kosovo and Metohia.
I have no intention to justify the text of the Declaration on Kosovo and
Metohia, into which some of my own ideas and considerations have been
built, just as ideas and considerations of many others. I believe that the
Declaration is a good document, and justifying good documents means
expressing doubts on their persuasiveness. I intend to explain the
political context and the time in which the Parliament of the state of
Serbia is adopting the Declaration on Kosovo and Metohia.
Our discussion today must not be poisoned by «historicism», nor any other
ideological or party legacies which have historically spoiled the efforts
of earlier generations of Serbian politicians. I will therefore just
briefly present my view of relations prevailing in the multiethnic Serbia
before the 5th October 2000.
Why do I do this? To describe the wasteland in national and state policy
left behind the defeated regime; to state the steps that we are taking to
prevent national and state interests.
Religious and national antagonisms during the rule of Slobodan Milošević
were so great and of such kind, that only utmost political caution and
utmost balance on behalf of statesmen could have counted on small
victories which might in the sum-total yield an acceptable result.
Milošević, regretfully, opted for the argument of force instead of for the
force of arguments. In Kosovo and Metohia, where Albanians are the
majority population, he was dealing with deeply rooted and primitive
Albanian extremism and separatism, which changed its old Stalinist-style
nature and transformed into a fight for territories masked by slogans of a
fight for national, civilian and political rights. Instead of looking for
allies in balanced and moderate Albanians, he decided to abolish the
autonomy of the province and thereby turned the whole Albanian community
against himself and against Serbia. By this imprudent act, he gave credit
to all those who created the stereotypes of Albanian deprivation of rights
in Kosovo and Metohia and told the international community that he is not
interested in its complaints.
The Albanians, of course, became self-organized. They were driven out of
institutions, they created their own para-state which was financed to a
great extent by dirty money, through trafficking of drugs, weapons,
cigarettes and human beings. Big money, of course, created big lobbies,
joined by some western politicians, some businessmen, some media, and some
intellectuals of influence. The Albanian separatist movement, exploiting
the tactical mistakes of Serbian politics, managed in the international
public and among the international community to mask its principal
national objectives - the creation of Greater Albania, by alleged fight
for human rights.
What could the then head of the state of Serbia and Yugoslavia expect
after that? Just a continued stylization of Serbs, as oppressors of
Albanian civil and national rights, as intruders on European serenity,
meaning a back-feed effect of a nation which has no respect for other
nations and which does not uphold European or international standards.
Milošević, Ladies and Gentlemen, provided the excuse for separatists and
extremists and this, it seems to me, is his worst result and the worst
service to Serbian state interests. There was nobody any longer in the
western world ready to hear of the permanent Albanian terror against Serbs
and, for instance, of the demographic explosion, in which he and his
followers wanted to see only a result of collective planned expansion of
Many institutions of the western world, which meka decisions on
international affairs and relations, many influential individuals, began
to overlook the ethnic hatred in the political efforts of militant
Albanians, began to be silent of their crimes, and to exacerbate and
dramatize evil deeds by individuals of Serb nationality. Just make a
little linguistic analysis, look at the names used in recent years in the
West to denote Albanian terrorists. They are rebels, they are «armed
groups of ethnic Albanians», but never, and in no way, terrorists. This
cliché persists even today, so those who shoot at Serb army or police may
not be denoted as terrorists but as "forest thieves".
Numerous times I have said to my Western collocutors that terrorism means
spreading fear by violent means, and I asked them: Gentlemen, what do you
call spreading fear by violent means? Does the ethnic background of the
victim decide whether a crime is named terrorism? Why the euphemisms? They
responded that the Serb position is weak and that this fact says it all.
This response leads us to the next consideration and the answer to the
question: What did the new democratic government in Serbia had to do after
5th October, and what is it doing now?
The new government first asked itself what its realistic chances are to
participate in resolving the problems in Kosovo and Metohia. The answer
was: little, almost none.
Nobody in the world, not even super powers, can resolve problems without
constantly bearing in mind the prevailing international public opinion,
the attitude in the surroundings, its own geo-strategic objectives,
financial potentials and flows. We should have, therefore, first enlarged
our potentials in order to be able to deal with prejudices against Serbs.
We should have freed ourselves of old misconceptions and shortcomings, the
first on the list being our myth-mania and the need to exaggerate our own
power, the need to put ourselves into the center of global politics, and
to lose old alleys from that world.
In other words, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have not only been untrue to
others, but often and much also to ourselves.
The end to this period of slowdown and national humiliation had to be
marked with a powerful statement, repeated by many officials of the new
government, that renouncing war means in no way means renouncing the
protection of historical rights of the state of Serbia in Kosovo and
The new policy of the state of Serbia consisted of searching for paths
between force and submission to force, or finding one′s way in the complex
world of fierce controversies.
In the «invisible book-keeping» of the international diplomacy we were
marked as persons of spite, people who do not understand that favors in
international relations are always granted by counting on counter-favors.
It was an imperative to change this stereotype of spiteful Serbs and we
have therefore tried, without fear of the international community, in
formulating our demands and in offering concessions, to be clear and
positive, not to promise what we can not fulfill, not to go beyond the
limits of our strength, to present ourselves to international institutions
as a dedicated and reliable, cooperative partner and an alley in building
regional stability. This new policy resulted in resolving the crisis in
southern central Serbia, in the Pčinj district, so we had hoped that this,
once tested and proven model, will be applied also to the situation in
Kosovo and Metohia. Regretfully, in the Southern province, where the
protectorate of the international community had been established, nothing,
or very little, depended on us. However, irrespective of this, the very
difficult task began by establishing the Coordination Center for Kosovo
and Metohia, the state body charged not only with taking care of the
destiny of the Serb community remaining in the province and pushed into
enclaves, taking care of Serb and non-Albanian refugees and displaced
persons from Kosovo and Metohia, but also with being the permanent,
goodwill assistance to the civilian mission of the United Nations and to
The Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohia was established at the
joint session of the governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and
the Republic of Serbia, on 2nd August 2001. Its responsibilities are
specified in the Program for Implementation of the Resolution of the
United Nations Security Council No 1244, ratified by the Government of
Serbia on 2nd October the same year.
During the two years of existence we have been dedicated in our strife to
the return of refugees and displaced persons, to resolving the destiny of
the kidnapped. Due to well known circumstances, due to the growing fear
among Serbs and lack of readiness by UNMIK and KFOR to decisively protect
them, we have managed to provide the return to the province for only four
hundred eighty-four refugees, to Grabac, Biča, Osojane, Belo Polje,
Mušnikovo, Novaci and Sredska. For the returnees we have provided
assistance in building houses and infrastructure, in providing livestock,
agricultural machinery, fresh food supplies, equipping schools,
infirmaries, medical centers and universities, and other existential
A lot has been done in the field of protecting the Serbian cultural
heritage. Nine monasteries, fourteen churches and three parochial
residences have been rehabilitated, restored and reconstructed, and
assistance has been provided for building of six new churches. Right now,
several sacral monuments, three monasteries, four churches and six secular
monuments of culture are being restored.
209 bodily remains of missing persons buried in mass graves in Kosovo and
Metohia have been exhumed, and 57 have been identified and handed over to
By employing labour from Serb settlements, we tried to rehabilitate
buildings damaged in the earthquake that struck the Kosovosko Pomoravlje
district on 24 April 2002. We have constructed 184 new buildings, of total
area of 11.150 square meters, we have financed the reconstruction of 850
houses, some school buildings, health centers and parochial residence
buildings, we have constructed fourteen kilometers of roads.
We have furnished 185 houses with new furniture.
Through the legal expertise of our teams we have assisted detainees who –
mostly before majority Albanian court councils, without valid procedures
were sentenced to high terms in prison – and we have managed for
twenty-one person to get release verdicts. Our expert assistance was
available also to those against whom charges were made, and we provided
We took care of humanitarian relief. We have provided and distributed 286
tons of seed wheat, 1.906 tons of artificial fertilizer, 460 tons of seed
corn, 270 tons of seed potatoes and 3.000 fruit seedlings. Finally, we
have dispatched 139.000 humanitarian relief packages with food and
hygienic supplies - 62.325 tons of flour, two tons of edible oil, 4.002
cubic meters of wood for heating.
The important and successful part of the activities of the Coordination
Center, in my opinion, is our participation in international conferences.
As President of the Coordination Center, I have spoken at 24 such
gatherings. Five times I have participated in the work of the UN Security
Council, and for two sessions I submitted my statements.
Our representatives were also present at the meetings of the High Ranking
We have signed thirteen agreements and protocols, the most important being
the Common Document – Agreement on the Cooperation between Yugoslavia and
UNMIK, of 5 November 2001.
Finally, I shall say this: 23 sessions of the Coordination Center have
been held, with comprehensive consideration of the situation in Kosovo and
Metohia and our obligations to our people.
I have mentioned these facts so that you could know how we defended the
national and state interests of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohia, and how we
attempted to improve the living conditions of Serbs and other
non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohia. Far from any kind of utopia or
masochism, our policy had to be moderate and pragmatic, by allowable
means, strictly within international and generally accepted rules of UNSC
Resolution 1244. In public confrontations, statements and interviews to
the media, in pronouncing our attitudes at political and other gatherings,
our approach was free of warlike rhetoric, in peaceful terms we explained
what actually happened in Kosovo and Metohia and what our interests are.
And what did happen there?
In Kosovo and Metohia, there was a clash of two rights: the Albanian
ethnic right and the Serb historical right. I have been maintaining for
quite a while that peace will come to this province only with the
reconciliation of these two rights. This means that every policy of
maximized demands must be defeated, irrespective of whose it is, Serb or
The proponents of Albanian maximized demands have already sketched the map
of their future state and in their blind, anachronical fights for
territories they already see the south central Serbia and almost all of
Macedonia as parts of ethnically cleansed Kosovo. Just until yesterday, it
practically seemed as if all the pieces were in place for making this plan
materialize: Richard Hallbrook shook hands with terrorists and encouraged
them to create their own army. The leaders of this army became protégées
of NATO and favorites of many Western politicians who had the opportunity,
by helping Muslims in Kosovo, to prove that they are not sworn enemies to
Islam. Before the eyes of Milošević, and before the eyes of his wrongly
applied military and police force which has withdrawn, Serbia temporarily
lost sovereignty over Kosovo and Metohia. Albanian politicians from the
Kosovo Protection Corps, which is just another name for KLA, and those
from the Albanian National Army, which is yet another name for KLA,
believe that this was once and for all. They defend their conclusion by
cruel violence, sure that the hallo-effect of Serbs as evil-doers, created
by the chosen media at the time of the armed conflict in Kosovo and
Metohia will persist. Many have built their careers on this coarse,
black-and-white division to good and bad guys, to victims and
perpetrators. Even today, they strongly cling to such divisions, despite
the fact that those who had once been victims, although they ceased to be
so a long time ago, have taken the road of violence and crime. They strive
to maintain their careers and influence by maintaining this virtual image
of the past suffering of one nation in Kosovo and Metohia, and by
providing a «logical» explanation that crimes against Serbs and
non-Albanians happen as retaliation caused by their attacks and
provocations. Even the recent abominable murder of Serb children in
Goraždevac, which shocked the world, was not spared such attempts to now
place these new victims and these new perpetrators in the same plane and
demonstrate that in Kosovo and Metohia everybody is attacking everybody,
and that a division between victims and perpetrators no longer exists.
ANA is now making efforts to destabilize southern Serbia, to impose itself
as an actor of making and resolving the Balkan crisis, of preventing the
accession of Serbia and Montenegro to NATO, and to entangle in this fight
as many countries of south-east Europe as possible, in order to make the
world, in an attempt to achieve a final stabilization of the Balkans, to
opt for its maximizing ambitions.
It is sure that there are politically reasonable and balanced Albanians,
and it might be that there are those who do not approve of using force.
But they are intimidated, I believe, or indecisive in their belief;
anyway, there is an impression that all in Kosovo and Metohia are united,
and that the leaders of the Albanian National Army, surrounded by "dogs of
war", murderers from Mujahedin and other formations, speak the mind of the
Such unity is not present even in traces in Serbia, in Belgrade.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in Belgrade you will get many different answers to
the question what to do with Kosovo and Metohia and in respect to Kosovo
The most fastidious attitude is this: Kosovo is a stone tied around
Serbia's neck, and it should get rid of this stone as soon as possible.
Serbia, allegedly, can not enter the European Union with lost sovereignty
over one part of its territory and therefore, for reasons of progress, for
reasons of the future, it should decide for a painful amputation of the
I will illustrate one more example of political extreme. To resolve
inter-ethnic issues, to calm down secession rebellions and uprisings – say
the proponents of using force – it takes fierceness and toughness.
Allegedly, those who make decisions on everything, including decisions on
changing or not changing borders, are tyrants and they know only of force!
They will not respect us if we continue to fight for our interests by mild
and inefficient appeals, resolutions and declarations.
Others persuade us that what remains in Kosovo and Metohia is just a
little of fictitious and symbolic sovereignty, therefore we should
immediately accept for Kosovo and Metohia to become the third republic
within the already loose union presently called Serbia and Montenegro.
Others yet provide proof that Albanians do not need ANA, that producing
fear among Serbs and non-Albanians in the province is unnecessary.
Albanians will defeat us by an unprecedented high birth rate, we will be
defeated by the «white plague», and in a decade or two, whether we want it
or not, we will have to share our state with them. We should therefore,
they argue, immediately opt for the division of Kosovo and Metohia.
There are also those who propose that we should fight for a Serbian
autonomy within Albanian autonomy.
The next send us a message that it would be most opportune to accept a
broad independence of Kosovo and Metohia, and whatever is the name of the
province in the future, get in it – under international treaties –
exterritorial status for monasteries (like the monastic state of Sveta
Gora on mount Athos) and the right to self-governing political communities
such as exist in Europe, where Serbs live and where they were political
I have no intention of listing all proposed approaches, as the preceding
ones are sufficient to draw a conclusion: in discussing Kosovo and
Metohia, Serbs move from concern to indifference, from emotions to dry
rationality, from superficial to analytical approaches.
Esteemed national deputies, we do not have this possibility – without
awaiting the sentence that history will pronounce – to be just emotional
or just rational. We, in fact, have to be accountable both to our
predecessors and to our descendants.
What should this accountability be demonstrated in? primarily in our
dedication that we must not make even one single decision that our
descendants, when they are in a position to make decisions, would assess
as a hasty and regretfully final solution, a product of actors immature
for the historical task. If to our collocutors, Albanians and the
international community, we can not by force of arguments impose solutions
that would provide protections for the Serb historical rights, it would be
the best and most appropriate to keep the Serb issue open until the
establishment of such an international constellation in which a just and
lasting solution for the issue of Kosovo and Metohia will be possible.
We have not yet come to this decisive discussions on rights, and by
putting it off for the future, we must decide on the deadlines. When will
we discuss the final status of Kosovo and Metohia?
I see as a good decision the one made with the approval of relevant actors
of the international community and the European Union on the so-called
final solution for Kosovo and Metohia.
We support the implementation of adopted standards of human and national
rights before initiating discussions on the final status of Kosovo and
Metohia. If extremism and terrorism today dictate the conditions of
negotiations on the future of Kosovo and Metohia, if a terrorist is a
negotiator, tomorrow the extremists and terrorists will be making
decisions also in other regions of south-east Europe. And elsewhere, too.
This will set a precedent, dangerous not only to the interests of the Serb
nation, but also to the interests of other nations in the Balkan
You might ask me how long we need to wait for democratic and European
standards to be in exercised in Kosovo and Metohia? Shall we wait ten more
years, if it does not happen in ten years? Will the Albanians wait?
As you know, we are adopting the Declaration on Kosovo and Metohia after
the changes of leading officials of the international administration in
Priština. A Special Representative of the Secretary General has left, who
will be remembered among Serbs as an Albanian supporter. A politician of
integrity has replaced him, who we believe will be unprejudiced, not
biased in favor of one side or the other, neither Serb not Albanian, but
who will make judgments according to justice and according to his
responsibilities. It is natural to grant this gentleman, Harri Holkeri, as
much time as his service grants him to achieve what his predecessors
failed to achieve.
Is it possible in one year to achieve the standards that I am speaking of?
Is it possible, after that, in negotiations on the final status, to come
to a compromised and sustainable solution? It all depends on the readiness
of the international community to apply its own decisions in Kosovo and
Metohia. I believe that today there is more such readiness than there was
yesterday, but I do not know whether there will be enough of it to
undertake a comprehensive investigation regarding the Kosovo protection
Corpse, in order to dismantle the stronghold of terrorists, to send the
perpetrators to the Hague, to discourage extremists, to enable 250.000
refugees to return to their homes.
Such questions, I admit, even in tireless optimists, stir reasonable
chills and due unrest.
There is, however, also something that provides ground for hope and
increased certainty that the future need not be as cruel and uncertain as
the present is. With such positive sentiment I have read the Memorandum of
the Serbian Orthodox Church on Kosovo and Metohia which ends with a strong
call for a peaceful and prosperous co-existence of Serbs, Albanians and
all other communities who used to live and should live in Kosovo and
I quote: ‘'Why would not Kosovo and Metohia, as a holy land of the
Balkans, be common land and region (a Slavic word which also means
governance) of Serbs and Albanians, Christians and Muslims, two nations,
two languages, two religions, two cultures, just as in the case of -
mutatis mutandis – the Holy Land is for the Israelis and the Palestinians.
America is supporting such living together and co-existence in the Holy
Land. Why would it not also support the same idea in this holy land as
well, for the sake of God, for the sake of people and nations, for the
sake of sacrileges and for the sake of freedom?''
Ladies and gentlemen, if today we adopt the Declaration on Kosovo and
Metohia, as it is written, we may make it known to the whole world that
the most responsible representatives of the state and of the Church have
reached an agreement on principles of fighting for a multi-ethnic,
multi-confessional and multi-cultural society. The priorities of such a
strife are the care of the destiny of missing persons, providing
conditions for a sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced
persons, guaranteed freedom of movement and security, protection and
impeccable status of property and, finally, the process of
decentralization which we see as a protection of the collective status of
the Serb community.
Before us is a long and difficult road. Each step that we make must be
well considered and balanced, despite provocations and challenges possible
on this road. On this road, we must be decisive, wise and patient. And
above all, united.
Thank you very much for your attention.
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