December 02, 2003
ERP KiM Newsletter 02-12-03
Reconciliation must be mutual and sincere -rhetoric without acts means nothing
A commentary on the yesterday's statement of the UNMK's chief Hari Holkeri in Belgrade.
The statement of UNMIK's chief Mr. Hari Holkeri in Belgrade yesterday in which he called Belgrade officials to apologize for what happened in Kosovo and thus ease the tensions in the Province has created lots of confusion among Kosovo Serbs, not because a sincere apology has universal and human meaning which no one can deny, but because of the present political and security context both in Kosovo and in Belgrade. We may try to believe that Mr. Holkeri just wanted to give a good piece of advice, but his words quite legitimately bring forward the following question: Is it also not Kosovo Albanian leaders and UNMIK leadership who should apologize to Kosovo Serbs, Roma, Gorani and Bosniaks for their suffering in Kosovo which continues after more than four years of "the internationally granted peace"?
The statement of UNMIK's chief Mr. Hari Holkeri in Belgrade yesterday in which he called Belgrade officials to apologize for what happened in Kosovo and thus ease the tensions in the Province has created lots of of confusion among Kosovo Serbs, not because a sincere apology has universal and human meaning which no one can deny, but because of the present political and security context both in Kosovo and in Belgrade. We may try to believe that Mr. Holkeri just wanted to give a good piece of advice, but his words quite legitimately bring forward the following question: Is it also not Kosovo Albanian leaders and UNMIK leadership who should apologize to Kosovo Serbs, Roma, Gorani and Bosniaks for their suffering in Kosovo which continues after more than four years of "the internationally granted peace"?
Why UNMIK is hiding the real
situation in Kosovo and Metohija from public
Mavric, born on February 5, 1964, was kidnapped on October 12, 1999 on the road between Velika Hoca and Orahovac. His fate remained unknown until November 4, 2003, when a team of pathologists identified his body by DNA analysis. According to the UNMIK police Section for kidnapped and missing persons, Mavric's body was found following an anonymous telephone call last year, made on November 27, 2002, from the neighboring Albanian village of Brestovac.
18, Oslo (Norway) Renewed Attacks on Serbian Orthodox
newsletter is available on our ERP KIM Web-site:
by Fr. Sava Janjic
(photo: Hari Holkeri during one of his previous visits to Belgrade with Bogdan Bukumiric, one of Serb children who survived the river massacre in August. Bogdan asked Mr. Holkeri when the perpetrators will be brought to justice. The question has still remained unanswered)
The statement of UNMIK's chief Mr. Hari Holkeri in Belgrade yesterday in which he called Belgrade officials to apologize for what happened in Kosovo and thus ease the tensions in the Province has created lots of confusion among Kosovo Serbs, not because a sincere apology has universal and human meaning which no one can deny but because of the present political and security context both in Kosovo and in Belgrade. We may try to believe that Mr. Holkeri just wanted to give a good piece of advice, but his words quite legitimately bring forward the following question: Is it also not Kosovo Albanian leaders and UNMIK leadership who should apologize to Kosovo Serbs, Roma, Gorani and Bosniaks for their suffering in Kosovo which continues after more than four years of "the internationally granted peace"?
"Forgive and thou shalt be forgiven", says the Lord in the Holy Scripture. This means that for the reconciliation all sides must make efforts of mutual recognition of past mistakes and take actions which will be opposite to what happened before. In other words reconciliation is measured in actions and not in words, it has to be sincere and mutual, not an act of political marketing or imposing of collective guilt on any side. The innocent victims of different ethnicities cannot be divided into those who died in a justified or unjustified way, those who were victims of "heinous war crimes" and those who were killed simply as unavoidable "collateral damage". Every human life has eternal value in front of God. More precisely, the reconciliation has to be followed by concrete actions which will substantiate the words and speak more loudly instead of them. We have seen certain (but not at all satisfactory) amount of progress in interethnic relations in Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina which shows that nationalist perceptions are slowly being changed but in Kosovo the clock seems to have stopped in June 1999, or perhaps even in the 19th century.
Let us see what has actually changed in Serbia and its southern UN administered province of Kosovo since June 1999.
Milosevic and his closest aides who are suspected by the Hague Tribunal of human rights violations and war crimes in Kosovo Province are not in power any longer. The Belgrade Government is headed by the DOS Coalition which at the time of war was in open opposition to Milosevic's policy and could not have contributed in any way to the suffering of Kosovo Albanian civilians. The DOS Coalition gave the strongest support to the extradition of Milosevic and his closest associates despite all existing political and security risks. Furthermore, many of DOS coalition members suffered themselves executions, human rights violations, imprisonment and torture by Milosevic's regime. They were the victims too.
The Belgrade leaders can and should always express their human regret to Kosovo Albanian people for what happened in Kosovo but no one can request from them to accept moral or political responsibility and make a unilateral act of reconciliation with former KLA leaders who still instigate anti-Serb campaign in Kosovo. That would not only endanger the political position of the Belgrade Government but would justify continuation of ethnic terror in Kosovo. The concrete action of the DOS Coalition in toppling Milosevic and its painful efforts to make Serbia a modern democratic country are the best and most visible proofs that Serbia-Montenegro in 1999 and now are not the same two countries. The process of establishing guilt for certain individuals from the army and police has already begun in the Serbian courts and despite all political difficulties the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal continues.
Patriarch Pavle, Bishop Artemije and the Serbian Orthodox Church were among the first to condemn Milosevic's regime and its excessive use of force against KLA rebellion in which innocent Albanian civilians suffered. In July 1999 Bishop Artemije even visited an alleged mass grave site near Kosovo Polje with then OSCE chief Mr. Knut Volebaeck (Norway) and publicly condemned the crimes expressing his deep regret for suffering of any innocent Kosovo inhabitant no matter to what ethnicity or religion he or she belonged. Serbian monks sheltered Muslim Albanians and distributed food to the needy. The shelter in the monasteries found also elderly Serbs and the Roma people who were expelled by Albanians from their homes. These acts of the Bishop and his monks were rewarded by destruction of 112 Serbian Orthodox churches by the Albanian extremists. "God, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing"...
On the other hand in Kosovo Province the Albanian political scene is still dominated by the members of the former KLA which was directly responsible not only for military insurrection but also for many crimes against innocent civilians during and immediately after the conflict (when the infamous KLA was (at least) formally disbanded and transformed into Kosovo Protection Corps). The leaders of the KLA, who jumped overnight from their military fatigues into elegant Armani's are now among the first who request Serbian apology while at the same time they not only tolerate but instigate and upport campaign of ethnic terror against remaining Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanians. Kosovo leading institutions, dominated by Albanian deputies, could not even agree to make a minute of silence for the Serb children killed in Gorazdevac in August 2003.
Let us see the facts once again:
After the conflict, Since the deployment of KFOR and UNMIK in Kosovo and Metohija on June 10, 1999 to August 9 of this year, Albanian extremists, mostly former members of the KLA, have carried out 6,535 attacks, resulting in the deaths of 1,201 persons, the wounding of 1,328 persons and the abduction of 1,108 civilians. Of the total number of attacks, 6,468 were directed against civilians (5,932 against Serbs and Montenegrins, 201 against Albanians and 335 against members of other ethnicities), 57 against Serbian police (members of the ministry of internal affairs) and 10 against members of the Serbia-Montenegro (formerly Yugoslav) Army. In the meantime at least two thirds of the Kosovo Serb population was forced to flee in front of rampaging KLA gunmen and ethnic discrimination. Only a few thousands out of 250.000 displaced Serbs have returned so far.
More than 90% of all these crimes which happened despite the UN administration in Kosovo have not been properly investigated and punished before the courts. The investigations of major crimes against Kosovo Serbs: Harvest massacre (July 99), Nish Express bomb attack (Feb 2001), massacres of Stolic family and Serb children in Obilic in summer 2003 still remain without any visible result.
In this context Mr. Holkeri who requests apology from Belgrade and at the same time passively ignores campaign of ethnic terror against remaining non-Albanians in Kosovo can be very easily understood as an open provocation. At least he should have addressed the same message to the leaders in Pristina, some of which should not only apologize but take direct judicial consequences for ordering and orchestrating murders and abductions of hundreds of Serb non-Albanian and Albanian civilians in Kosovo after the armed conflict.
Therefore, it was no surprise that the Serbian Deputy PM Mr. Covic immediately assessed that the message of UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri to Belgrade to apologize for what occurred in Kosovo means that a part of the international community believes it is time "to complete the absolute Albanization of Kosovo". Covic, quite rightly observed that the tone and timing of Holkeri's message was totally wrong. And he was right...
If we all want to be more just would not it be necessary for Mr. Holkeri himself to apologize in front of UNMIK to hundreds of Serbian families whose dear ones were killed or abducted under the UN administration in Kosovo Province and whose lives were not protected despite the Mission's mandate. We must not forget that the goal of the mission of UNMIK and KFOR was to stop the conflict and protect all inhabitants which of course was not fully implemented. Therefore, Mr. Holkeri (not as a person of high political and moral credibility) but as a chief of UNMIK has the least moral right to request any kind of apology, especially from the Serbian people and its representatives in this moment while they are struggling to keep up with democratic reforms in Belgrade.
Instead of asking from Belgrade to repeat the immortal noble act of Willi Brandt f Kosovo Albanian leaders and especially UNMIK Mission should do their best and finally stop the suffering of the innocent Serb populating in Kosovo, prevent further desecrations of Christian holy sites and establish free and secure surrounding for all Kosovo's inhabitants regardless of their ethnicity and religion. This will mean more than any theatrical phrase or gesture.
To paraphrase the old Latin proverb in slightly different way
VERBA VOLANT, ACTA MANENT - WORDS FLY, ACTS REMAIN
*The original Latin proverb says verba volant, scripta manent
Easter Proclamation of
Bishop Artemije, March 27, 1999
June 12, 1998:
communities during the war
This article was written exclusively for the Belgrade daily Danas and appeared in its weekend edition of November 29-30, 2003.
On the beginning
of cooperation between Belgrade and UNMIK on the investigation of KLA
This article was written exclusively for the Belgrade daily Danas and appeared in its weekend edition of November 29-30, 2003.
Finally after four years UNMIK and representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs have initiated direct collaboration on investigating crimes committed in Kosovo and Metohija during and after the armed conflict. Immediately after the change in the Belgrade government and the toppling of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian Ministry of Justice headed by Vladan Batic sent UNMIK and the Hague tribunal representatives comprehensive documentation regarding numerous crimes committed in Kosovo and Metohija against innocent Serbian and other non-Albanian civilians.
Thanks to the efforts of police general Sreten Lukic, the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs also began active investigation of crimes committed by individual members of the Serbian police force and the Yugoslav Army, significantly contributing to the discovery of the fates of missing Albanians. However, months passed and Hague tribunal and UNMIK representatives continued to claim that they lack valid evidence regarding the crimes of Albanian extremists whose campaign of ethnic terror continues with unreduced fervor, claiming its blood tithe, "paid" by the children of Gorazdevac and the members of the massacred Stolic family of Obilic, among the many victims.
The new change in relations between UNMIK and Belgrade with respect to committed crimes was probably the result of an article published in the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, which included photographs of KLA members holding the severed heads of abducted Serbs. At first UNMIK representatives were at a loss as to how to comment on the article; however, soon it emerged that the investigation of this case had been initiated as early as August 2003 after the photographs were discovered in an abandoned Albanian house in the village of Prilep near Decani.
Some UNMIK representatives believe that it is easier
to keep the Albanians under control if their leaders know that
indictments against them can be activated as soon as they stop behaving
cooperatively. However, events on the ground show that these same
leaders have interpreted UNMIK's strategy as a sign of weakness and a
guarantee of their immunity; therefore, they continued to coordinate
extremist attacks, not hesitating to openly threaten the most senior
UNMIK officials, turning the situation to their own advantage. It is as
a result of threats coming from former KLA structures that one of the
former heads of UNMIK, Hans Haekkerup,was forced to suddenly depart from
Kosovo, having incensed Albanian circles by his close cooperation with
Belgrade and a change in the pro-Albanian course of his predecessor,
"A pact with the devil"
It would be very difficult to believe that UNMIK and KFOR intelligence agencies are not aware of the dubious and dark past of current Albanian leaders but many analysts assess that one of the factors for excessive international tolerance is the result of their active collaboration with NATO forces during the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. We cannot forget that a similar "pact with the devil" was sealed earlier with Osama bin Laden during the war in Afghanistan (in the 1980s), when Western military instructors trained Osama and his mujahedins how to fight against Russian forces. To this we need to add Richard Holbrooke's nonchalant admission in his memoirs that a similar "pact with the devil", as he called it, was made during the war in Bosnia when some Western intelligence agencies organized and permitted the arrival of mujahedins in Bosnia to reinforce the forces of Alija Izetbegovic.
Since then, the situation has nevertheless changed drastically. The Russians are no longer the enemies of the West, and Osama and his "freedom fighters" have become enemy number one of the USA and the Western world, especially after the tragedy on September 11, 2002. Milosevic is no longer the bogeyman of the Balkans and Serbia is drawing increasingly nearer to Euro-Atlantic integration along with the other former Yugoslav republics. Perhaps the only dinosaurs remaining from that area are in Kosovo, where Albanian leaders cannot comprehend that they are prisoners of their own anachronistic nationalist ideas, which are no longer necessary in the West.
However, the problem in Kosovo is that the West really no longer has much of a choice. A new political elite capable of giving Kosovo a European image was not created in time. Honestly, the former leaders of the KLA who grabbed power after the war do not appear very ready to turn power over to others and lose control over illegal transactions and drug smuggling that bring them millions of euros. Kosovo is at a dead end once again and Europe would prefer to sweep the problem under the rug if it was not so close to Western European countries where the Albanian mafia is establishing a monopoly in prostitution and drug dealing.
Fear of allies
A further reason for relative caution in relations with former KLA leaders may be the fear that their arrest might lead to public riots and attack on international personnel, like in Iraq. In Kosovo there are still quite a few extremists and with a majority Muslim population, especially in the passive rural areas that today's political leaders call home, the Province is hardly immune to the ideas of Wahabi Islam that represent the ideology of al-Qa'ida. If this really turns out to be true, it will be extremely difficult to deny the fact that UNMIK and KFOR have de facto become victims of extremists who were formerly armed by Western intelligence agencies against the Serbs.
Unfortunately, the same story repeats itself. Former friends of "Western values" such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein metamorphosed into the greatest enemies of Western civilization and the bellwethers of the "Axis of Evil", according to U.S. president George W. Bush, Jr. When we recall the events of 1998-99, the only real reason that led NATO to accept the KLA as its ally was their common goal to free themselves of the Milosevic regime by inflicting a defeat in Kosovo, long considered one of the most powerful strongholds of his political might and personal political charisma. Depicting the secessionism of the Kosovo Albanians as a human rights struggle, it appeared as a completely legitimate excuse to launch a massive media, diplomatic and military campaign designed to bring Milosevic to his knees.
Of course, there are still those who believe that the military intervention was necessary but it would be difficult for any impartial observer to deny that the true humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and Metohija began at the same time that the first NATO bombs began to fall of the cities of Serbia. Even if the Devil himself had said he was anti-Milosevic, he probably would have been welcomed as an ally, armed and sent into war. At the same time, Kosovo Albanians who openly welcomed the NATO bombs certainly could not have expected a favorable reaction on the part of their Serbian neighbors. Of course, it would be a serious mistake to claim that the situation in Kosovo before the bombing was good; on the other hand, it is a fact that the first bombs created such a degree of animosity that it was realistic to expect a tragic unfolding of events.
It could even be said that this course of events was openly provoked in order to justify military intervention against a sovereign European country with a relatively low intensity conflict with rebelling secessionist forces on its territory before the Western community. The fact that the UN never officially approved intervention was further reason for war planners to find an urgent and sufficiently plausible reason to convince the public to support the continuation of bombing.
detailing hundreds of thousands of expelled and murdered Albanians,
destroyed cities and concentration camps fanned the conviction of the
Western Worlds that the Serbs were the only culprits, while the members
of the KLA were honorable fighters for the freedom of their people.
Events that soon followed showed matters in a truer light.
Prejudices and democracy
Bernard Kouchner immediately announced the beginning of a new era in democracy, despite daily news of murders, church destructions, abductions and looting of Serbian-owned property. The security vacuum that ensued as a result of KFOR's inadequate strategy and the almost complete absence or lack of training on the part of UNMIK police was quickly filled by the "new liberators", who in fact never won a single battle against the Yugoslav Army. The cutting edge of their victors' euphoria was best felt by the remaining Serbs, Roma, Bosniacs, Croats and moderate Kosovo Albanians, who were immediately branded as enemies of the new regime headed by Thaci, Haradinaj and Cheku. It immediately became clear that the KLA's vision of the future of Kosovo was at odds with what the West wanted and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 mandated. Nevertheless, the "mischief" caused by the allies continued to be tolerated because Milosevic was still in Belgrade and all problems could ultimately still be blamed on his regime and on the Serbs as a whole.
Only several months after the arrival of UNMIK and KFOR did it become clear that the Yugoslav Army did not intend to return to Kosovo and Metohija and that the rules of engagement for peacekeeping forces needed to be seriously reexamined. However, it was already too late for any sort of serious change for the better. KLA bands had already ethnically cleansed the better part of the Province. Borders toward Macedonia and Albania remained wide open and by the beginning of 2001, Macedonian Albanians supported by the kosovo.netpatriots launched their own war of secession under the guise of a battle for greater rights for the Albanian community.
At the same time, tons of weapons continued to pour into Albania through the gorges of the Prokletija mountain range since no one was protecting the borders. Some representatives of the KFOR and UNMIK understood that the real problems were no longer in Belgrade but in their own backyard, even though the majority kept up their old prejudices and continued to view the Kosovo Albanians as the only victims, turning a blind eye to their extremism and organized crime.
Therefore, it was necessary to create a balance of crime, and the Serbian part of Kosovska Mitrovica was regularly depicted in the press and in UNMIK reports as the stronghold of "the most dangerous Serbian extremists" when this "extremism" actually consisted solely in the fact that they refused to allow themselves to go the same way as other, ethnically cleansed Kosovo cities and spontaneously organized resistance to the Albanian takeover of the north of the Province, predominantly populated by Serbs.
Although no one can deny the existence of radically disposed elements in the Kosovo enclaves, Northern Mitrovica has paradoxically remained far more multiethnic in character than any other city in the Province dominated by Kosovo Albanians. However, the Mission had to find justification at any price, not only for the continued military presence in Kosovo and Metohija but also because of the increasingly greater engagement of Western armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The failure of peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo would jeopardize other enterprises, as well as undermine the general idea of "humanitarian intervention", which in the Near East has become an excuse for a new "oil imperialism". For all these reasons, it has become imperative to hide the truth regarding the real situation in Kosovo and Metohija far from the public eye.
Currently almost the entire leadership of the former Milosevic regime is in The Hague; at the same time, the initiators and key figures of the Kosovo campaign of ethnic terror are wearing the laurels of the victors. Occasionally Western diplomats flatter them by insisting that they are the ones who must lead Kosovo in the direction of Europe. A former chief of the U.S. Mission in Kosovo, Reno Harnish, compared them even with the fathers of American democracy. We can only hope that this injustice and lack of impartiality toward the Kosovo problem will not last long and that all criminals, regardless of their ethnicity, will be brought to justice. It is the least that can be done for the thousands of innocent people who lost their lives during and after the Kosovo conflict just because they refused to accept national chauvinism and hatred as the purpose of their lives.
*The boxed text was later added by the author of the article and was not included in the article as published in Danas. Photos and captions were also subsequently added by the author.
A Serb Kidnapped by KLA in 1999 Finally Finds his
peace - Mladjan Mavric burried in Velika Hoca
Mladjan Mavric was buried on Sunday, November 30, 2003 at 13,00 hours in Velika Hoca. Mavric's mortal remains were turned over to his family by the UNMIK police Section for kidnapped and missing persons.
Mavric, born on February 5, 1964, was kidnapped on October 12, 1999 on the road between Velika Hoca and Orahovac.
His fate remained unknown until November 4, 2003, when a team of pathologists identified his body by DNA analysis.
According to the UNMIK police Section for kidnapped and missing persons, Mavric's body was found following an anonymous telephone call last year, made on November 27, 2002, from the neighboring Albanian village of Brestovac.
Mavric is survived by his wife and four year-old daughter, who was born after his disappearance. His funeral was attended by relatives, a large number of Serbs from Velika Hoca and Orahovac, and a group of twelve members of the Association of the Families of the Kidnapped, who travelled from Belgrade for the occasion.
In the drabness of daily Kosovo and Metohija reality, this funeral represents yet another in a series of tragic events for the remaining Serbs in the municipality of Orahovac, once again reminding them of the brutal reality in which they have found themselves and which is destroying the last hopes of the families of the kidnapped from the municipality of Orahovac that the fate of their closest relatives, 64 of whom are still missing, will be any different than the fate of the late Mladjan Mavric.
The funeral took place in an atmosphere of bitterness and dissatisfaction on the part of the Serbs because of the manner in which the UNMIK police Section for kidnapped and missing persons turned over the body: under a veil of since, without informing the public and without any condemnation of the crime for which there is now irrefutable evidence. The funeral was not attended by any of the official representatives of the UNMIK administration in Orahovac.
The Serbs in Orahovac and Velika Hoca claim that there are 463 bodies in the mortuary in Orahovac exhumed from various locations in Kosovo and Metohija, which are assumed to be mostly bodies of kidnapped Serbs. Orahovac Serbs believe that UNMIK is manipulating their fates, keeping their families in the dark and turning over one body at a time every few months so that the world does not learn of the mass murder of Serbs and no search for the perpetrators needs to be launched.
Text by D. B. Orahovac
21:00 Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Dr. Nebojsa Covic met in Belgrade today with representatives of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, discussing the standards for the resolution of the Kosovo-Metohija crisis. The setting of standards on the Serbian side should accelerate the harmonization of the standards with representatives of the international community.
Saturday 29 November 2003
20:20 A hand grenade was thrown into the yard of Serb Srboljub Jovanovic's house in Cernica near Gnjilane, Serbian sources from Kosovsko Pomoravlje reported. No one was injured in the explosion, which occurred on Friday evening at about five minutes to eight, although there were three children and three adults in the Jovanovic house at the time.
20:00 "Politicians must not fall victim to provocations" such as the raising of the flag of the Republic of Albania on the Presevo municipal assembly building, stated Nebojsa Covic, the head of the state Coordinating Council for the south of Serbia.
19:40 UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri held a first round of meetings
and consultations with representatives of all national communities and
Kosovo institutions in Pristina today regarding the feasibility and
operationalization of nine standards. Serb representatives Oliver
Ivanovic and Dragisa Krstovic proposed several dozen concrete
suggestions to the proposed plan for operationalization of standards,
asking first and foremost that the Serbian side take an active part in
their formulation and articulation.
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Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the
blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Additional information on our Diocese and the life of the
Kosovo Serb Community may be found at: http://www.kosovo.net