February 11 , 2003
ERP KIM Newsletter 46
Fr. Sava Janjic
In his interview for Radio Free Europe yesterday, Kosovo ombudsman Mr. Marek Nowicky publicly stated the discouraging fact that, due to the general situation in Kosovo and Metohija, the return of displaced Serbs has been brought into question. According to Nowicky, it is realistically possible to expect the return of only a few thousand Serbs, mostly to the villages where, as he said, They won?t bother anyone. Later in the interview, Nowicky emphasized that return to the cities is completely uncertain, not only due to security issues but also because all Serb-owned property has been confiscated.
The rights of Serb people must be clearly defined
It really must be said that rarely has an international representative in Kosovo and Metohija been more forthright in presenting the truth regarding the real situation in the Province. While UNMIK representatives continue to misleadingly suggest that a democratic and multiethnic society can be built in Kosovo and Metohija despite continuing Kosovo Albanian ethnic violence and discrimination, Serb representatives, especially representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church, have been warning the general public for years that the society that is being built here will soon be one where only ethnic Albanians can live. Most encouraging in this hopeless situation is the initiative of Premier Djindjic to immediately put an end to the process of building an ethnically pure (Albanian) state and clearly define the rights of the Serb people, not as a national minority, but as a constituent and constitutive people on its home territory.
As matters stand now under the existing Constitutional Framework, ties between Kosovo and Metohija and Serbia and Montenegro are increasingly disappearing with each passing day. What is more, Mr. Steiner has announced that by the end of the year most administrative authority will be transferred to Kosovo institutions, and we are therefore justified in asking to what extent it will be possible to change the resulting situation, which will completely prejudice the final status before negotiations with Belgrade have taken place. The insistence of the international community that the Serbs participate in Kosovo and Metohija at any price has the sole aim of giving political legitimacy to a concept which is distancing itself more and more each day from the framework foreseen by Security Council Resolution 1244.
High time to prevent Kosovo become monoethnic society
Steiner's promise that 2003 is the year of returns and building of a multiethnic society cannot be taken seriously by any knowledgeable expert on the real situation in Kosovo and Metohija. UNMIK?s real goal remains to ultimately implement an exit strategy for the international community, which is well aware of the essential failure of the mission, by completing the process of transferring authority to Kosovo institutions. The Serbs and other minority communities - Goranci, Turks and Bosniacs, whose future in Albanian society is likewise uncertain, are slated to be the biggest losers in this whole game. The international community will proclaim the successful conclusion of the mission despite the fact that the fundamental task of the UN SC Resolution 1244 'the building of substantial autonomy of Kosovo and Metohija within the framework of Serbia and Montenegro (former FRY)" remains unfulfilled. Practically, the Kosovo Albanians will get a ready-made country with the prospect of further unification of so-called ethnic Albanian territories, while the Serb people, the roots of whose statehood have lain here the 12th century, will the transformed into a national minority whose numbers will grow smaller and smaller over time. According to this scenario, the final outcome will in the end be very much like the one against which NATO forces sent their bombers over Serbia and Montenegro in 1999.
That is why it is necessary to intensify activities in order to return political processes in Kosovo and Metohija as soon as possible within the framework of Resolution 1244, reaffirmed by the UN Security Council at its most recent session on February 6 as the basis of work for the UN Mission. The message that it is too soon to define the final status of the province certainly does not mean that it is prohibited to begin the process of creating a framework within which the solution will be found. Passive waiting and tolerance of the status quo will only make the situation on the ground even worse.
Individual and collective rights within a Serb (speaking) entity
First of all, it is necessary to define concrete mechanisms to defend the rights of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija, not only individual rights but the collective rights of the Serbs, which presupposes the building of institutions of Serb self-administration in areas where Serbs and other communities using the Serb language live, and where the most significant Orthodox monuments of spirituality and culture are located. The Serb community cannot afford to remain the silent observer who passively watches as others tie the noose to be slipped around its neck. Therefore, the basic condition for return and for any form of further participation by Serb representatives in Kosovo and Metohija institutions must be a clear definition of the constitutionality of the Serb community and the amendment (or change) of the existing Constitutional Framework, which needs to be realigned with the principles of UN SC Resolution 1244.
A Serb entity should be constituted in areas where Serbs (or Serb speaking population) live which would have special relations with Serbian government agencies, especially in the domains of education, health protection, and protection of cultural and historical monuments. At the same time, the Albanian entity would enjoy a greater degree of independence and could have only those ties with Serbian bodies which would be mutually agreed upon through free dialogue.
Two entities in asymetric relation to Serbia
This two-entity system does not and should not mean the division of the Province. On the contrary, both entities would freely reach agreement regarding joint ties and authority with respect to territories where both communities are living. This asymmetrical principle of two-tier autonomy would create a mechanism for solving the complex problem of Kosovo and Metohija in a way that would protect the essential interests of both communities. The Serbs would not find themselves in a foreign and enemy land separated from their homeland; and the Albanians would not be under the guardianship of Belgrade or under any form of repression. The province would not be divided, nor would there be any changes in international borders in the Balkans, which most Balkan states oppose.
Of course, with the development of the economy and gradual integration of the western Balkans within the EU framework, new inter-entity ties and bridges would be sought, and it is quite possible that in time an even better solution would be achieved. The basic thing is for the rights of all citizens and ethnic communities to be protected, since that is also the main condition for integration into European structures. Any other solution, taking into account only the interests of one community and imposing the will of the majority on non-majority communities in the Province, would create the potential for a new armed conflict in the near or not so near future. It is hardly necessary to mention how much more difficult a one-sided solution would make the integration of the whole region in European structures.
Cooperation in fighting organized crime and terrorism
Apart from the economy, joint cooperation would also occur especially in the battle against terrorism, organized crime and ethnic violence. With the help of police and investigative teams from Europe and the United States, exchange of information and joint actions which transcend existing state or provincial borders, conditions be created for a successful battle against criminal activity which is threatening to send the entire region back to the Dark Ages. The Balkans with ?soft borders? would create conditions for new local integration and development of ties, finally bringing an end to the unhealthy process of political and territorial disintegration which began in the early 1990?s.
If the process of the institutionalization of Kosovo and Metohija is redefined on the above mentioned bases, realistic conditions would be created for the return of the displaced Serb and non-Serb population (the Goranci, Roma and Bosniacs), and improvement of the security situation, contributing to the return of all displaced persons and solving of outstanding property and legal issues in accordance with European standards.
Otherwise, Kosovo and Metohija
will continue to sink
deeper into violence and mono-ethnicity while the
Kosovo Albanians will be
increasingly isolated from their closest neighbors.
Under such conditions,
Kosovo and Metohija will increasingly become the ?black
hole? of Europe,
which is not in the interests of its citizens, no
matter what their ethnic
The return process has been brought into question due to lack of freedom of movement, the difficult economic situation and the uncertain future of Kosovo
Nowicky cautioned that a small number of displaced persons will return primarily to the villages "where they won't bother anyone". "According to my analysis there is no prospect for the return of displaced persons to the cities because there is no room. It's not just a question of lack of space but all confiscated property as well as all services rest today in the hands of the Albanians," said Nowicky. Another problem is lack of knowledge of the Albanian language when "Kosovo is increasingly becoming an Albanian language area," said Nowicky. "Serbs think that they will return to their Kosovo, which no longer exists. Kosovo today is different than it was in 1999 when they left it," emphasized Nowicky and pointed out the fact that Serbs are selling their property in Kosovo. "Serbs are increasingly thinking about how to leave Kosovo, while those who remain here will live on the margins of society," warned Nowicky.
"There are some who say
that, in case of independence,
all Serbs will leave Kosovo. We don't know that but the
fear does exist.
It's a question how the Serb community would react to
that's why the international community, quite
understandably, is very
cautious. When we talk about the status of Kosovo, we
should not forget that
it is a part of the Balkan stability and security
problem," said Nowicky.
ALBANIAN ACCUSED OF ATTACKING SERBS REMAINED IN CUSTODY
Politika daily, Belgrade
February 6, 2003
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia President Vojislav Kostunica organized a reception yesterday in the Palace of the Federation for a larger group of Serb students from Cernica and on that occasion invited reporters to take advantage of their seven-day visit to Belgrade to acquaint the public with the difficult living conditions of Serb children in this part of Kosovo and Metohija.
Welcoming the students and their teachers, Kostunica stressed that Belgrade had already welcomed groups of children from Gorazdevac and Lipljan. "This is the third time we meet with those who represent the soul of Kosovo, the Serb children of Cernica, who have come to visit us thanks to Belgrade's Stari Grad municipality," he added.
Kostunica reminded that before the arrival of international forces and administrators, Cernica, a village located between Gnjilane and Urosevac, was home to an equal number of Albanian and Serb residents. Now only a quarter of the Serb residents remain, some 400 people.
"Since KFOR's deployment in the southern Serbian province, nine people have been murdered there, the same as if 30 had been killed in Belgrade. Image the extent of this loss, including the most recent murder of Trajan Trifunovic," stressed President Kostunica.
"Life there is difficult; it is difficult for them to come to us; and difficult for us to go to them," said Kostunica, expressing his regret that he could not promise that the tragic circumstances would soon change and his conviction that with love and hope which must not abandon us, we will do everything possible to improve living conditions and maintain ties.
Kostunica then called on reporters to talk to the children while he himself first addressed a little girl and boy wearing black /a sign of mourning/ - the children of Trajan Trifunovic, who was killed on December 22 in broad daylight some 200 m from his house as he was tending his goats.
Milica and Lazar Trifunovic, students of the fourth and sixth grade, respectively, were visibly depressed as they stated briefly that their deceased father, a former Trepca miner, had been unable to work since the arrival of NATO, and that the family subsists on state children's allowances and humanitarian aid.
ERP KIM Info-Service
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Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of
Raska and Prizren and
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