February 12, 2004

ERP KiM Newsletter 12-02-04

Joseph Grieboski: Human rights in Kosovo - a catastrophe

Almost five years ago, the United States led NATO into a war to liberate the peoples of Kosovo-Metohija from the oppression of Slobodan Milosevic's regime. Five years later, Kosovo's Serbian Orthodox have become second-class citizens in their own country, deprived of their basic human rights. Under the eye of tens of thousands of NATO troops, including Americans, over 115 churches and monasteries have been leveled _ more than half dating back to the Middle Ages; priceless frescos and icons have been desecrated; monks and priests have been attacked as they walk the streets of now-ethnically pure Albanian cities and towns.


KFOR escorts are still necessary for free movement of Serbs (a photo showing a Serbian priest and two unindetified Serb civilians boarding a KFOR military transporter, ERP KIM)

Life without elementary human rights

Kosovo Serbs do not lead normal lives. Nearly five years after the military intervention, Serbs live without respect for their human rights. As soon as they leave the enclaves, they become targets of extremist ethnic Albanian violence. There is no freedom of movement for Serbs without the escorts that are provided by KFOR or UNMIK. Without these escorts, they would fear for their lives (Bishop Artemije at the Western Policy Center, Washington D.C.)

CONTENTS:

A Multi-ethnic Kosovo: Diplomatic dream or Balkan reality
Remarks by His Grace Bishop Artemije of Kosovo and Metohija (full transcript of the Bishop's lecture at the Western Policy Center on January 29, 2004 and the follow-up discussion)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Serbian Bishop here on a mission from Kosovo
He called Kosovo "an open wound that continues to bleed." He cited an Amnesty International report from last year, which said that Serbs and other ethnic minorities are prisoners in their own homes and at constant risk of beatings, stabbings, drive-by shootings, hand grenade attacks and kidnappings.

Joseph Greboski: Human rights in Kosovo - a catastrophe
From the beginning of the war till this very day, thousands of Serbs have been killed, and the Orthodox Serbs who have remained there, live in ghettos and are exposed to segregation, President of the Institute for religious and public policy Joseph Greboski said at a Tuesday Congress debate on religious freedoms in the world.

POVRATAK: Demand for real return of Serbs
"We would demand to be clearly stated that this document is not a way for independence for Kosovo and Metohija, as well as not to be taken in consideration to precisely identify who is in charge of the evaluation of the implementation of the ‘Standards for Kosovo’", emphasized Krstovic the chief of the parliamentarian group of the coalition POVRATAK.

Kosovo Ombudsman urges KFOR to return checkpoints
In a letter to KFOR commander Holger Kammerhoff, Nowicki expressed concern that Serb villagers felt insecure without the checkpoints, adding that there are no adequate telephone services in the villages and the residents would be unable to seek help in any emergency situations.

Coordinating Center calls for Serb participation in the working groups
Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija's justice and human rights division head Vladimir Bozovic said that local Serbs should take part in working groups for the Kosovo standards implementation, stressing that any other approach would mean discrimination of the Serb community.

Racak case in focus again
Covic emphasized that this event needs to be fully clarified because Racak was the 'prime motivation" for the bombing of FRY. "It is our duty to cast full light on events in connection with Racak and to demand responsibility of the 'prime participant' of that event, William Walker . . . Walker cannot go unpunished... If the people in the Hague tribunal are there for violating the law, then bombing a country is also a war crime," said Covic.

Trial of former Albanian rebel leader to begin in Kosovo
A former ethnic Albanian rebel leader charged with kidnapping and attempted extortion is due to go on trial before a United Nations court in eastern Kosovo on Tuesday.

The speech of Serbia-Montenegro Ambassador at the UN SC Meeting, Feb 6
We are enclosing the full transcript of the speech by the SM representative at the UN SC - Ambassador Perovic at the UN SC meeting on Kosovo, February 6

Culture of impunity still intact in Kosovo

In the area of the rule of law, according to the Secretary-General's report, high-profile crimes against members of the Kosovo Serb community decreased significantly in the past three months. However, the report fails to provide information of any of the perpetrators of previous such crimes having been apprehended and brought to justice. This inevitably leads us to the conclusion that the culture of impunity regarding ethnically motivated crimes against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is still intact. (Serb-Montenegrin ambassador at the UN SC Meeting, Feb 6


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Bishop Artemije speeking at the Western Policy Center in Washington D.C.

Western Policy Center (Washington, D.C., USA)

A Multi-ethnic Kosovo: Diplomatic Dream or Balkan Reality

Remarks by His Grace Bishop Artemije of Kosovo and Metohija (full transcript of the Bishop's lecture and the follow-up discussion)

http://www.westernpolicy.org/Secondary.asp?PageName=Programs&Page=PolicyForums/20040129/index.asp

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January 29, 2004
Washington, D.C.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the eighth year I have visited the United States with the goal of seeking peace for the non-peaceful Balkan region. Today, I am here again with the same mission. During the many meetings I have had with political leaders and leading, influential institutions in the U.S. in the past, I have always conveyed the truth by speaking only in the language of facts. This is what I am prepared to do on this occasion, as well.

In my talk on Kosovo and Metohija, almost five years after the end of war in June 1999, using the language of facts, I will present the status of daily life for the Serb people in this Serbian province. This will be the best way to show the success or failure of the international peace mission in Kosovo and Metohija.

I will try to present an optimal solution to overcoming the present difficulties, a solution that would be acceptable to and beneficial for all parties involved: for the Serbs, Kosovo Albanians, and the international community.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen,

Please allow me to read to you a passage by Amnesty International that very accurately describes the human rights situation in Kosovo, the U.N.-administered southern province of Serbia, which remains one of the hotspots in the Balkans almost five years after the end of the armed conflict in 1999.

"After the end of the war in Kosovo, despite the efforts of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the U.N. Civilian Police (UNMIK Police) to provide security and protection, members of minority communities continue to both suffer and fear assaults by the majority community on their lives and property. Their fear is reinforced by continuing impunity for both those who perpetrated violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law during the period of armed conflict, and those responsible for the abuses which have continued since the end of the war.

This climate of fear, insecurity, and mistrust, exacerbated by continued impunity, has resulted in the effective denial of the right of minorities to enjoy freedom of movement in Kosovo. Additionally, those who are able to gain some measure of freedom of movement find themselves subjected to both direct and indirect discrimination when seeking access to basic civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights . . . .
Serbs and other ethnic minorities in Kosovo remain at serious risk of death or injury despite almost four years of peace and the presence of U.N. and NATO peacekeepers . . . . Beatings, stabbings, abductions, drive-by shootings and the use of hand grenades to intimidate and kill members of these minorities are common in the province. As the vast majority of these crimes remain unsolved, perpetrators are free to commit further attacks contributing to a climate of fear and the denial of basic human rights."

No, I did not make a mistake and read a text written in summer 1999 or 2000. This report, entitled "Prisoners in Our Own Homes," was published by Amnesty International on April 29, 2003, and the situation on the ground since then has not only remained unimproved, but it has essentially deteriorated. The security threat is not only directed against Kosovo Serbs, but also against other non-Albanian minorities in Kosovo, particularly Roma, Slav Muslims, Goranci, and even ethnic Turks.

The Amnesty International report confirms that "more than half the pre-war Slavic Muslim community of 67,000 fled in 1999. Now about 3% of the population, they are mainly concentrated in and around Prizren town." This fact proves that ethnic Albanian crimes in Kosovo are not so much a consequence of war and the desire for revenge as they are a tool of ethnic Albanian nationalists to create an ethnically pure Albanian territory.

A multi-ethnic future

It would be unfair to say that there have been no improvements at all in Kosovo since the war. But it is also disturbing that these improvements, including primarily the return of war-time refugees, reconstruction of war-damaged facilities, and the building of institutions, have almost exclusively impacted the Kosovo Albanian community. Kosovo Serbs have had almost no concrete benefit from these "improvements," nor are they of any use to them in resolving their burning issues concerning a normal and free life.

While it is true that many hospitals have been restored, Serbs cannot seek treatment in them. Numerous roads have been paved, but Serbs lack the freedom to travel on them. Tens of thousands of houses have been renovated, but only about one hundred of them are owned by Serbs. After the war, all mosques were repaired and many new ones were built, while over one hundred Serbian churches still lie in ruins and not one has been reconstructed. There are many new supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants, but what use are they to Serbs when only Albanians and foreigners can safely enter them? In short, based on his first-hand experience, the average Serb feels that UNMIK has come to help only one community while Serbs appear fated to live as second-class citizens on the margins of society.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 is the only legal document that defines Kosovo's unclear status within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Many of its provisions have not been implemented because the new Kosovo institutions stubbornly reject any dialogue with the Belgrade government and fail to provide basic freedoms and rights to the non-Albanian communities. As long as many Kosovo Albanian politicians and political parties continue to support their fellow Albanian separatists in southern Serbia and Macedonia, tolerate or even incite ethnic violence in Kosovo, and persistently insist on secession as the only possible solution, one can hardly expect the normalization of relations with Belgrade and Skopje.

Kosovo cannot exist in the future as an isolated island, entirely dependent on Western taxpayers, but neither can it attain sustainable economic development and industrial production without regional integration and cooperation. Although many Kosovo Serbs are aware that direct administrative rule by Belgrade is not an appropriate model at present or in the future, they, nevertheless, strongly oppose the independence of Kosovo. They know from their experience that, in such an Albanian-dominated state, there would be no place for non-Albanian communities. In Albania, for example, national minorities (Serbs, Greeks) do not have any rights.

An independent Kosovo would set a dangerous precedent that would destabilize not only the Balkans and its fragile peace, but also other countries with similar problems. Instead, Kosovo Albanian leaders should understand that an ethnic group does not have to be independent in its own nation-state to have control over its own fate.

The importance of Kosovo for the U.S. and the EU

The Kosovo issue is not just a local problem of the Balkans. It has much wider ramifications. At the moment, Kosovo is not a top priority in U.S.
foreign policy and, at the same time, EU countries still do not seem to be fully aware of the possible consequences of renewed conflict in the Balkans. In fact, to be more precise, the entire fragile political architecture of the Balkans, which was established after the wars ended in the 1990s, can easily be shaken if the Kosovo problem is not resolved in the proper way.

At the moment, the U.N.-administered province is one of the hotbeds of organized crime, prostitution, white slavery, and drug smuggling. In addition, the Albanian mafia is increasingly spreading its influence and activities throughout Europe and is stealing the monopoly of other mafias. Kosovo, widely seen by Albanian nationalists as the beacon of Albanian "territorial and ethnic unification," could very easily become a cancer of Europe.

Let us think about three possible scenarios and what consequences they might have for U.S. and European political interests in the region:

1. The independence of Kosovo
2. The re-establishment of direct Serb control of Kosovo that existed prior to 1999 3. Substantial autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia and the union of Serbia and Montenegro

The first two scenarios would almost surely lead to conflict and continued suffering for all ethnic groups within the civilian population. For the international community, that would mean a serious
challenge:

* to allow the creation of an ethnically clean Albanian state in which there will be no long-term possibilities for a normal life for non-Albanians (Scenario 1)

* or to see a new conflict unfold with Serbia, where most people, according to the latest elections, strongly oppose the secession of Kosovo (Scenario 2).

Both concepts are anachronistic and would lead to instability. It is important to say that Scenario 2 would be possible only if Kosovo Albanians, either unilaterally or with international support, proclaim Kosovo's independence despite the will of Serbia and the majority of its citizens, i.e., despite the provision of Resolution 1244 that requests a negotiated settlement.

SCENARIO 3

The most viable and acceptable scenario seems to be the third scenario, which would entail substantial autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia and the union of Serbia and Montenegro, with a special focus on improving human rights, the economy, and other standards that are essential for the integration of the entire region into EU structures. This scenario does not mean a return to the pre-1999 situation (Scenario 2), but it is also opposed to the independence of Kosovo, which would be tailored according to the will of the current Kosovo Albanian leaders (Scenario 1).

That is why it is necessary to intensify activities in order to bring the political processes in Kosovo as soon as possible within the framework of Resolution 1244, which defines the mandate and priorities of the U.N. mission. However, this does not mean a continuation of the present UNMIK policy of the uncontrolled transfer of all authority to local provisional (Albanian-dominated) Kosovo institutions. It means the building of truly multi-ethnic institutions that would, at the same time, guarantee the sovereignty of Serbia and Montenegro and enable all kosovo.netmunities to realize their most vital interests, in accordance with the highest standards of European autonomous regions.

First of all, it would be necessary to define concrete mechanisms to defend the rights of the Serb community in Kosovo, not only individual rights but collective rights as well. This would presuppose the building of institutions of self-administration in areas where Serbs and other ethnic communities using the Serb language live (Bosniaks, Croats, Goranci, some Roma) 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 further participation by Serb representatives in Kosovo institutions is a concrete revision of the existing Constitutional Framework, which needs to be realigned with the principles of Resolution 1244. In practical terms, this means decentralization of the province, which would not be a territorial division but a solution that, on the other hand, would effectively prevent ethnic Albanian secession.

These self-governing institutions in Serb-speaking areas should have special relations with the Belgrade government agencies, especially in the domains of education, health, and the protection of cultural, historical, and religious monuments. At the same time, the Albanian-speaking community would enjoy a greater degree of self-rule and could have only those ties with Serbia and with Serbia and Montenegro that would be mutually agreed upon through free dialogue.

Local Kosovo institutions on a Kosovo-wide level would be multi-ethnic, and they would coordinate activities between two autonomous entities.
They would primarily work on resolving the local problems concerning the common interest of all of Kosovo's inhabitants and would not act as para-state structures. Of course, as an autonomous province, Kosovo would be able to have representation in institutions in both Serbia and in Serbia and Montenegro. The increased presence of minority representatives in the Serbian parliament would only further facilitate the strengthening of multi-ethnicity in the country, which, despite the recent wars, still remains the most multi-ethnic state in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, as well as in the wider region.

Last but not least, such a settlement of Kosovo's status would not set a negative precedent for other ethnic communities throughout Europe that might try to exercise their right of self-determination to the detriment of the sovereignty of their states. The firm position to be promoted would be that the only way out of the Balkan quagmire is not through further atomization of the Balkans and the creation of unstable,
ethnically- and religiously-pure banana republics, but through economically and politically stable multi-ethnic countries that will be able to follow the process of EU integration.

CONCLUSION

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I will take this opportunity to appeal to you to think about the problems and solutions that I have mentioned and support those options that can bring stability, prosperity, and a better future to the suffering peoples of the Balkans. Our joint message to all those who think that the map of Europe can be re-tailored along ethnic lines for the benefit of only one ethnic community should be:
Let's change our way of thinking, not the borders! In the spiritual domain, this is the basis of the centuries-old Christian philosophy of life based on the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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The following is a summary of the discussion during the Question and Answer session:

Q: What has UNMIK done to curb the use of Kosovo as a base for criminal enterprises seeking entry into western Europe and as a center of asymmetrical threats?

The United Nations has done a lot, but not enough. Since the arrival of the international KFOR peacekeeping force in 1999, Serbs in Kosovo have survived in enclaves that resemble ghettos and camps. As a result, only one-third of the pre-war Serb population currently resides in the province.

Kosovo Serbs do not lead normal lives. Nearly five years after the military intervention, Serbs live without respect for their human rights. As soon as they leave the enclaves, they become targets of extremist ethnic Albanian violence. There is no freedom of movement for Serbs without the escorts that are provided by KFOR or UNMIK. Without these escorts, they would fear for their lives.

The right of Serbs to work has been infringed upon. With the arrival of the international community and the return of internally displaced Albanians, Serbs lost jobs. They cannot work in the agricultural sector because their presence in open fields puts them at risk of being targets of attacks by Albanian extremists.

Their health care requirements are not adequately addressed, such as proper hospitalization. Serbian children do not go to school since the schools are in the hands of Albanians. The schooling of these children takes place in the basements of friends' houses or in other makeshift accommodations.

Since 1999, more than 120 churches in Kosovo have been destroyed and remain unreconstructed. The tendency toward the destruction of Serb monuments persists today. The fact that these churches have not been rebuilt reflects the double standard the international community has brought to bear in Kosovo. It is proof that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 is being fulfilled only in domains concerning Albanians.
Albanians have achieved freedom, security, and economic prosperity within the context of UNMIK. Their mosques have been rebuilt. They have also received support from Islamic countries. The rights in Resolution 1244 have not been granted to Serbs. It is necessary to return displaced Serbs to their homes in Kosovo and then to rebuild the churches.

The Albanians who have committed a large number of atrocities against Serbs have not been prosecuted under the mandate of the United Nations.
Of the 250,000 Serbs who left Kosovo in 1999, only several hundred have returned.

We expect the United Nations to adhere to the provisions of Resolution 1244. Only then will a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-cultural society be re-established in Kosovo.

Q: How would Kosovo be impacted by a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the province to accommodate Washington's international troop redeployment needs?

A new tragedy would unfold if the U.S. were to withdraw its troops from Kosovo. Albanians would attempt to complete the ethnic cleansing of Serbs. Serbia would likely be forced to protect the territory, population, and cultural heritage of Kosovo. There would be a new conflict and new suffering.

Q: Since Albanians have the upper hand in Kosovo, what chance is there that they would agree to compromise?

Everything depends on the will of the international community, which has the ability to foster peace and equality between ethnic groups. Serbia was bombed for 78 days so that Albanians could return to their homes.
Now, there are no consequences when Albanians commit the types of atrocities that used to be committed against them under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. The international community seems to have a double standard. This is an injustice that cannot result in long-term peace.

Q: Have discussions among the different religious groups in Kosovo been taking place?

Yes, beginning four years ago, we had several conferences and conversations with people of different faiths, such as Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims. We talked about the problems on the ground and issued joint resolutions. These resolutions remain on paper since nothing has changed on the ground. Over the last two years, there has been no inter-religious dialogue in Kosovo. I will stay in the United States as long as I am able in order to engage representatives of various religious faiths. You can only solve problems through respect and dialogue. Both sides must come together with a desire to resolve problems if reconciliation is to be achieved.

Q: What figures exist for the number of unresolved homicides in Kosovo?

The Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, a joint institution formed by the Serbian government and the federal government of Serbia and Montenegro, has released the following figures:

From June 10, 1999, until August 9, 2003, 6,535 total attacks were carried out by Albanian extremists. Of these, 1,201 were murders, 1,328 resulted in wounds, and 1,146 were abductions. The remaining incidents were break-ins or thefts. When we discuss violence, we are talking about crimes committed against all people, including Romas, Slav Muslims, and Goranci.

With regard to the necessity for dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, some Albanians are inclined toward dialogue and are ready to fight for a multi-ethnic society in the province. However, because of acts of terror against them by Serbs and pressure exerted on them by former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), moderate Albanians cannot express themselves openly.

Q: How important is it to conduct a review in 2005 of the Standards for Kosovo put forward by the U.N. in December 2003 to see how they are being implemented by the Albanians?

The Serbs are not happy with these standards put forth by the Security Council. Serbs did not participate in the formulation of the standards, and the comments of Serbs concerning the current status of the standards have not been taken into account. In addition, the standards are general and do not address concrete problems. The way they were formulated contradicted language in Resolution 1244. Through these standards, Kosovo is going to eliminate its ties with Serbia and with Serbia and Montenegro.

Most important is the fact that there is no mention in the standards of the mechanisms that will be used to implement them. It is, therefore, easy to manipulate the standards for one's own benefit. Kosovo's president, Ibrahim Rugova, is saying that most of the standards have been fulfilled, and, on that basis, he demands the independence of Kosovo.

Q: The return of Serbs to Kosovo is a high priority, but how is it possible to ensure the safety of those returning?

The international community has taken on the responsibility of providing security for all residents of Kosovo. We expect it to carry out that responsibility. Serbs have no freedom of movement in Kosovo because thousands of people who have committed atrocities in the province do have freedom of movement. Until they are arrested and the international community deals with them, Serbs will not be able to move around Kosovo freely and there will be no security for those returning.

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Serbian Bishop Here on a Mission from Kosovo

He called Kosovo "an open wound that continues to bleed." He cited an Amnesty International report from last year, which said that Serbs and other ethnic minorities are prisoners in their own homes and at constant risk of beatings, stabbings, drive-by shootings, hand grenade attacks and kidnappings.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 The diminutive man in black monastic garb is in the United States on a mission: to warn about the dangerous aftermath of the seemingly forgotten war in Kosovo.

    Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije of the Diocese of Kosovo and Metohija was one of the few heroic figures to emerge from that conflict, which was triggered when nationalist Serbs massacred ethnic Albanian Muslims in the disintegrating remnants of Yugoslavia. Artemije, a longtime critic of that Serbian regime, dispatched monks to rescue endangered Muslims.

    Today, though regarded as a traitor by some Serb extremists, he warns that the violence in Kosovo has been reversed, with United Nations and NATO troops effectively overseeing the massacre of Serbs by ethnic Albanians.

    "After Sept. 11 [2001], the international community and the United States somehow have lost interest in the events and happenings in Kosovo and Metohija," Artemije said yesterday at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel Pittsburgh.

    He is in the United States to appeal to Congress and the State Department but is also visiting Serbian-American strongholds in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago.

    He called Kosovo "an open wound that continues to bleed." He cited an Amnesty International report from last year, which said that Serbs and other ethnic minorities are prisoners in their own homes and at constant risk of beatings, stabbings, drive-by shootings, hand grenade attacks and kidnappings.

    The Serbian government reports that since the war ended in June 1999 there have been about 6,500 attacks against civilians in Kosovo -- 200 of them against ethnic Albanians -- resulting in 1,200 Serbian and 110 Albanian deaths. Artemije's report to Washington says that progress in Kosovo cannot be solely measured by the safety of the Albanians.

    "While it is true that many hospitals have been restored, Serbs cannot seek treatment in them; numerous roads have been paved but Serbs lack the freedom to travel on them; tens of thousands of homes have been renovated but only about 100 of them are owned by Serbs. After the war, all mosques were repaired and many new ones built while over 100 Serbian churches still lie in ruins and not one has been reconstructed," he wrote.

    The conflict is not religious but nationalist, he said, citing Albanian Muslim persecution of Slavic Muslims. He views both Serbian and Albanian perpetrators not as men of faith but as cynical ex-communists with no qualms about exploiting Christianity or Islam for their own gain. The region has become a base for a violent Albanian syndicate that is exporting crime throughout Europe, he said.

    Artemije argues for a complex government, which would ensure rights for all ethnic and religious groups and make Kosovo an autonomous state within Serbia-Montenegro. The list of rights he wants granted includes the return of confiscated Serb homes, equal opportunity for jobs and education for Serb children.

    Artemije said he believed his visit to Washington would bear fruit.

    "We have the feeling that we did bring the attention of American representatives back to the situation and events and issues happening in Kosovo and Metohija. And we believe that, after five years, finally some positive movement will happen," he said.

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Human rights in Kosovo - A Catastrophe

From the beginning of the war till this very day, thousands of Serbs have been killed, and the Orthodox Serbs who have remained there, live in ghettos and are exposed to segregation, President of the Institute for religious and public policy Joseph Greboski said at a Tuesday Congress debate on religious freedoms in the world.

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Tanjug News Agency
Washington D.C., February 11

From the beginning of the war till this very day, thousands of Serbs have been killed, and the Orthodox Serbs who have remained there, live in ghettos and are exposed to segregation, President of the Institute for religious and public policy Joseph Greboski said at a Tuesday Congress debate on religious freedoms in the world. At the same time he expressed concern that no one has been held responsible for such a catastrophe in the area of human rights.

A debate on the State Department's report on religious freedoms in the world during 2003 was held at the international terrorism sub-committee for terrorism, non-proliferation and human rights of the US Congress House of Representatives committee for international relations.

Beside Greboski other participants in the discussion were: Ambassador John Hanford responsible for religious freedoms in the State Department, Tom Malinovski, director of the Washington D.C. Human Rights Watch and others.

Greboski pointed out that the promotion of religious freedoms is a key element of the U.S. foreign policy and is deeply related to the U.S. security interests. However, in some countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo in which the U.S. influence is trong, religious freedoms are nevertheless disregarded.

In his written report which was officially presented to the Congress Greboski said that five years after NATO intervention against FRY Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo "in their own country became second-rate citizens, deprived of their basic human rights."

Further in the report it is said that before the eyes of dozens of NATO troops, including Americans, more than 115 churches were destroyed, the half of which were built in the Middle Ages. Greboski also said that valuable frescoes and icons are damaged and that Orthodox monks and priests are exposed to attacks in streets of "today ethnically clean Albanian settelements and cities."

In his report he warned the members of the sub-committee that such a situation in Kosovo is unbearable and that it all this is happening before the eyes of Americans.

"Two thirds of the Serb-Orthodox population which lived in Kosovo before the war were cleansed from the province and their homes were torched", it is said in the report.

Greboski also warned that "Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo think that America agrees to this destruction and violence" adding that Serbs see Albanians waving U.S. fags everywhere but at the same time continue attacking their religious heritage.

He called the U.S. to make a pressure on Albanian leadership in Kosovo so that perpetrators of such crimes may be punished.

"If we do nothing we become moral accomplices of these crimes", said Greboski and added that "disregarding of atrocities in Kosovo today gives support to those who oppose to democratic values and religious freedoms in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and we are not to allow this."

http://wwwc.house.gov/international_relations/108/gri021004.htm


Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128

Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Testimony of Joseph K. Grieboski
Founder and President
Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Hearing on State Department Annual
Report on International Religious Freedom
Before the House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nuclear Non-proliferation, and Human Rights

(...)

Almost five years ago, the United States led NATO into a war to liberate the peoples of Kosovo-Metohija from the oppression of Slobodan Milosevic's regime. Five years later, Kosovo's Serbian Orthodox have become second-class citizens in their own country, deprived of their basic human rights. Under the eye of tens of thousands of NATO troops, including Americans, over 115 churches and monasteries have been leveled _ more than half dating back to the Middle Ages; priceless frescos and icons have been desecrated; monks and priests have been attacked as they walk the streets of now-ethnically pure Albanian cities and towns.

Mr. Chairman, the situation is intolerable and it is happening under our watch. Two-thirds of the pre-war Kosovo Serbian Orthodox population has been cleansed from the province, their homes burnt to the ground. And thousands have been murdered. Those Orthodox who remain live in ghettos, segregated from the mainstream of Kosovo society. No one has been held responsible for this human rights catastrophe.

Kosovo's Serbian Orthodox feel that America is permitting all this destruction and violence to take place. They see that Albanians hang our flag everywhere, and they see those same Albanians continue to attack them and their religious heritage.  We must pressure Kosovo's Albanian leadership to prosecute those in their midst who commit these atrocities. Inaction on our part makes us moral accomplices to these crimes. Ignoring the horrors in today's Kosovo empowers those who oppose democratic values of religious freedom in places like Afghanistan and Iraq to stand up to us, and this we cannot allow.

(...)

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Demand for real return of Serbs

"We would demand to be clearly stated that this document is not a way for independence for Kosovo and Metohija, as well as not to be taken in consideration to precisely identify who is in charge of the evaluation of the implementation of the ‘Standards for Kosovo’", emphasized Krstovic the chief of the parliamentarian group of the coalition POVRATAK.

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Glas Javnosti, Belgrade daily
Belgrade, February 11, 2004

On Wednesday, representatives of the Serbian coalition "Povratak" in the Kosovo Assembly will send written complaints regarding the recently adopted document "Standards for Kosovo", stated the chief of the parliamentarian group of the coalition "Povratak", Dragisa Krstovic.

The Serbian proposal would be submitted to the chief of UNMIK, Harri Holkeri, and to the representatives of the offices of USA, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France and the Province.

"We would demand to be clearly stated that this document is not a way for independence for Kosovo and Metohija, as well as not to be taken in consideration to precisely identify who is in charge of the evaluation of the implementation of the ‘Standards for Kosovo’", emphasized Krstovic.

There would be a certain complain that refers to the chapter four – sustainable return and real community and its members.

"We do not agree that the preconditions for return are achieved, we want the return to happen, clearly to be measurable with concrete results. Beside this, there would be other very serious and essential complaints. If our suggestions are not going to be accepted, it would be difficult to expect from us to participate in the working groups for implementation of this document", concluded Dragisa Krstovic.


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Kosovo Ombudsman urges KFOR to return checkpoints

In a letter to KFOR commander Holger Kammerhoff, Nowicki expressed concern that Serb villagers felt insecure without the checkpoints, adding that there are no adequate telephone services in the villages and the residents would be unable to seek help in any emergency situations.

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B92, Belgrade
Belgrade, February 10, 2004

Kosovo ombudsman Marek Antoni Nowicki has urged international peacekeepers in the province to re-establish military checkpoints in a number of villages populated solely by Serbs.

In a letter to KFOR commander Holger Kammerhoff, Nowicki expressed concern that Serb villagers felt insecure without the checkpoints, adding that there are no adequate telephone services in the villages and the residents would be unable to seek help in any emergency situations. (Beta)


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Coordinating center calls for Kosovo Serb participation in standards implementation working groups

Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija's justice and human rights division head Vladimir Bozovic said that local Serbs should take part in working groups for the Kosovo standards implementation, stressing that any other approach would mean discrimination of the Serb community.

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http://www.serbia.sr.gov.yu/news/2004-02/10/333094.html

Serbian Government

Belgrade, Feb 10, 2004 - Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija's justice and human rights division head Vladimir Bozovic said that local Serbs should take part in working groups for the Kosovo standards implementation, stressing that any other approach would mean discrimination of the Serb community.

Following a visit to the US, Bozovic said that the Kosovo Serb exclusion from standards implementation working groups would make the province a monoethnic problem, which he said is not in line with the international community's position on Kosovo.

As part of talks with US officials, Bozovic said that Belgrade and Serbia cannot accept the creation of an independent Kosovo which would be the "black hole" of human rights, organised crime and terrorism.

Bozovic also briefed US officials on current conditions in the province and unsolved crimes there, including the killing of Serb children in Gorazdevac, the murder of the Stolic family in Obilic and the murder of Miomir Savic in Cernica.


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Racak case in focus again

Covic emphasized that this event needs to be fully clarified because Racak was the 'prime motivation" for the bombing of FRY. "It is our duty to cast full light on events in connection with Racak and to demand responsibility of the 'prime participant' of that event, William Walker . . . Walker cannot go unpunished... If the people in the Hague tribunal are there for violating the law, then bombing a country is also a war crime," said Covic.

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Yugoslav pathologist on Racak: Faked reports

Politika daily, Belgrade
February 9, 2004


Prof. Dr. Slavisa Dobricanin, the head of the Yugoslav forensics team which performed autopsies on the deceased in Racak 1999, has stated that he does not know the motives that induced Finnish pathologist Dr. Helena Ranta to reveal the truth regarding that event five years after the fact.

Dr. Dobricanin reminded that Ranta's earlier statement that "a crime against humanity" had been committed in Racak differed from the reports of three separate teams of pathologists from Yugoslavia, Byelorussia and Finland.

According to Dr. Dobricanin, the findings of the three teams had a common conclusion: that "all victims were most probably killed in combat and bore no traces of execution".

Contrary to this, at a press conference on March 17, 1999 which was dominated by the head at that time of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo, William Walker, Ranta, noting this was her personal opinion, described the event as "a massacre of Albanian civilians". "Ranta and Walker lied regarding the number of victims and the kinds of injuries.

They lied about the affiliations and nationalities of the deceased. They lied about the motives for the conflict," claimed Dr. Dobricanin.

He added that Ranta and Walker never mentioned 45 but only 40 victims "while the other five, whom the forensics teams identified as uncircumcised males [i.e., non-Muslims], also serving to confirm that not only Albanians were killed, were never mentioned by Ranta even before the Hague tribunal".

Dr. Dobricanin concluded that they "faked reports which were the immediate cause of the bombing of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999".

Commenting on Ranta's delayed admission that fierce clashes between Albanian terrorists and Serbian security forces occurred at Racak, Dr. Dobricanin said he assumed that she "was probably promised a promotion at that time".

He added that some media have speculated that her revelation "was connected to reported threats of Ranta's liquidation which, some investigative papers claim, have hung like the sword of Damocles over Ranta's head for the past five years".

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Covic: Trial of Walker will be long

Politika daily, Belgrade

February 4, 2004

The delegation of Serbia-Montenegro to the UN Security Council session where UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri will submit his report on Kosovo will be headed by the charge d'affaires of the Serbia-Montenegro Embassy in Washington because "nothing new" is going to happen, said Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference, Covic pointed out several problems in connection with Kosovo and Metohija that should be pointed out, including the question of the alleged massacre in the village of Racak.

He emphasized that this event needs to be fully clarified because Racak was the 'prime motivation" for the bombing of FRY. "It is our duty to cast full light on events in connection with Racak and to demand responsibility of the 'prime participant' of that event, William Walker . . . Walker cannot go unpunished... If the people in the Hague tribunal are there for violating the law, then bombing a country is also a war crime," emphasized Covic.

He said that he hopes that "the trial of Walker will be long".

Covic also reminded of requests to honor two documents: the Joint Document signed on November 5, 2001 with UNMIK chief Hans Haekkerup, which was disavowed by his successor, Michael Steiner, and the Agreement on Kosovska Mitrovica. Covic added that both documents had received the support of the UN Security Council.

Translated by www.serbian-translation.com (Feb. 10, 2004)

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Trial of former rebel leader to begin in Kosovo

A former ethnic Albanian rebel leader charged with kidnapping and attempted extortion is due to go on trial before a United Nations court in eastern Kosovo on Tuesday.

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AFP, February 10, 2004

PRISTINA -- A former ethnic Albanian rebel leader charged with kidnapping and attempted extortion is due to go on trial before a United Nations court in eastern Kosovo on Tuesday.

The trial of Shefqet Musliu before a UN panel of international judges was due to open last week but it was postponed until Tuesday due to legal technicalities, UN officials said.

He is accused of criminal acts including kidnapping, attempted extortion, unlawful possession of weapons and criminal association. His trial is scheduled to take place in the eastern town Gnjilane.

Musliu was a senior figure in the now-dismantled Albanian Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (LAPMB), and figures on a US blacklist alongside 22 other ethnic Albanians regarded as threats to Balkan security.

"My client has already denied all the charges and will plead not guilty," his lawyer, Masar Morina, told AFP.

The trial is sure to raise tensions between Serbs and Albanians, most of whom regard Musliu and other former rebels as heroes.

NATO-led peacekeepers arrested Musliu in eastern Kosovo in April last year and accused him of "threatening the secure environment" of the province.

In 2000 he became known as one of the leaders of LAPMB, which was waging a rebellion against Serb forces in the Presevo valley, Serbian territory to the north of Kosovo's administrative border.

The rebels were trying to create an enclave with a view to eventually uniting with Kosovo in an independent, Albanian-majority state.

Their uprising ended with an internationally brokered peace accord in May 2001, and the LAPBM was dismantled.

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The speech of Serbia-Montenegro ambassador at the UN SC Meeting, Feb 6

We are enclosing the full transcript of the speech by the SM representative at the UN SC - Ambassador Perovic at the UN SC meeting on Kosovo, February 6

In the area of the rule of law, according to the Secretary-General's
report, high-profile crimes against members of the Kosovo Serb community
decreased significantly in the past three months. However, the report
fails to provide information of any of the perpetrators of previous such
crimes having been apprehended and brought to justice. This inevitably
leads us to the conclusion that the culture of impunity regarding
ethnically motivated crimes against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is
still intact.

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Mr. Perovic (Serbia and Montenegro): Allow me to begin by joining
previous speakers in expressing my Government's deepest condemnation of
the terrorist attack in Moscow.

Allow me to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency
of the Security Council for the current month and to thank you for
convening this important meeting on the implementation of Security
Council resolution 1244 (1999). I wish to thank the Secretary-General
for his report (S/2004/71) on recent developments in the Kosovo and
Metohija province of my country. Also, I thank Mr. Holkeri for his
comprehensive briefing, to which my delegation listened with great
attention and interest.

What we have learned from the Secretary-General's report regarding the
current state of the implementation of the original standards for Kosovo
and Metohija raises serious concerns. Allow me to note just the
following examples.

The Provisional Institutions have continued to adopt declarations and
decisions that are clearly outside their responsibility, prompting the
interventions of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to
annul such acts. Simultaneously, however, the United Nations Interim
Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is seeking to involve the
Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in an advisory and
consultative capacity within specific areas reserved for the Special
Representative under chapter 8 of the Constitutional Framework. We find
this difficult to understand in the light of the aforementioned repeated
infringements by the Provisional Institutions on the Special
Representative's powers. All this is taking place in an environment
where non-Albanian communities are denied any meaningful participation
in political life, to the extent that not even basic access to
documentation in their mother tongues is ensured.

In the area of the rule of law, according to the Secretary-General's
report, high-profile crimes against members of the Kosovo Serb community
decreased significantly in the past three months. However, the report
fails to provide information of any of the perpetrators of previous such
crimes having been apprehended and brought to justice. This inevitably
leads us to the conclusion that the culture of impunity regarding
ethnically motivated crimes against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is
still intact.

The report states that the rate of minority returns continues to
increase, supporting this finding with the data that during 2003, 1,487
Kosovo Serbs returned to communities where they are in the minority.
Comparing this figure with the number of internally displaced persons
still in Serbia proper, which remains approximately 250,000, it is not
difficult to conclude that it will take many, many years for all
displaced persons to return to Kosovo and Metohija, as required by
Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

Concerning other original standards, the report describes progress
mainly as a slight improvement or an improvement with many remaining
problems, or uses similar, ambiguous terms. In the meantime, incidents
continue at various levels with alarming regularity. The Council is
probably aware of the attack in Djakovica, on 21 January, on a KFOR
vehicle transporting priests and a German television crew that was
filming the remains of the Orthodox temple of the Holy Trinity there.
Following that incident, the monastery priests have been denied further
KFOR escorts, and their living conditions have considerably deteriorated
in other respects. If the only priests in the area should be forced to
leave as a result, it will be a heavy blow to the local Serbs and will
further discourage the possibility of returns.

We were interested to hear the recent statement by the Deputy Special
Representative, Mr. Cady, at the Stockholm international forum on the
prevention of genocide. We share his views, as reported in the media,
that in Kosovo and Metohija the victims became the perpetrators; that
practically all ethnic Albanians went back in a matter of weeks after
the establishment of the peacekeeping presence, whereas more than four
years later most of the Serbs who fled have not returned; and that in
order for reconciliation to occur, no crime can remain unpunished,
whoever the victim or the perpetrator.

My Government also subscribes to Mr. Cady's conclusion that the main
challenge for UNMIK is to create stable conditions for a multi-ethnic
Kosovo, not only to prevent ethnic cleansing from occurring again when
the mandate of the international mission comes to an end, but also to
ensure normal development and prosperity for all communities, which must
be free from harassment and have equal access to institutions and an
impartial police and justice system.

Clearly, the record of the Provisional Institutions in Kosovo and
Metohija remains poor in the main. Some may argue - as UNMIK often
does - that such a record is understandable in view of their limited
experience, and that their performance is improving slightly and
gradually.

The underlying problem, however, is that the Provisional Institutions do
not want - and UNMIK so far has not succeeded in creating - conditions
for the meaningful involvement of the Kosovo Serb community in the
political life of the province. This also applies to the process of
drafting the standards implementation plan, which was expected to be
ready by now and to have been presented today in the Council. Because,
based on their experience with the Provisional Institutions of
Self-Government, Serb representatives do not see how they can in any way
influence this document, they do not participate in the working groups
drafting the plan. Unfortunately, UNMIK has not found a way to make this
process all-inclusive. Hence, it is already apparent that the plan will
serve to further divide the communities in Kosovo and Metohija and their
political representatives, instead of bringing them at least at little
closer.

Again, UNMIK is complaining about the so-called parallel institutions
and criticizing my Government for their existence. We therefore once
again have to reiterate that the Provisional Institutions of
Self-Government and UNMIK have not provided alternatives to the Serbian
community.

UNMIK has also failed so far to persuade the Provisional Institutions of
Self-Government to move forward with regard to the Belgrade-Pristina
dialogue. My Government has repeatedly expressed its readiness to begin
this dialogue within the envisaged four working groups. There were - and
there are - no ambiguities in that respect. It is clear which side is
delaying the process. It is therefore unfair, to say the least, to imply
that problems concerning the dialogue exist on both sides, as the report
suggests.

As for relations between my Government and UNMIK, we would like to see
the Common Document of 5 November 2001 implemented and the activities of
the high-level working group revived. This is an important element in
the overall context of the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) and
should not be marginalized, as is now the case.

Although the standards implementation plan has not yet been finalized,
we are already steadily moving towards a tentative date for the
comprehensive review of the standards in mid-2005. Then - or at a
somewhat later date, as the Council may determine - talks about a
political solution for Kosovo and Metohija will commence in one form or
another. Until then, if any sustainable solution is to be found, every
effort should be made to create conditions that will allow the
representatives of the two major communities and all other communities
in the province to talk to each other about their present and their
future. They are too far away from that point now. Currently, all the
political, economic and social advantages belong only to one community.
The other side has none, sees very little hope and is becoming
increasingly desperate.

UNMIK must take this reality into serious consideration and take
measures to rectify this huge imbalance. If not, the end result will be
a failure that nobody can afford.



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ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
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