February 13, 2004

ERP KiM Newsletter 13-02-04

Kosovo Serbs alarmed with reduction of KFOR troops


Local Serbs have most confidence in KFOR protection
For many Serb returnees and monastic communities KFOR protection is the only guarantee of security particularly in zones of increased security risk. Their withdrawal and handing over of protection and escorts to Albanian dominated Kosovo police or largely inadequately trained UNMIK police would finally destroy these last places of refuge and worship which have survived so far amidst the ethnic Albanian expansion and violence (KFOR troops guarding monastery at Budisavci, nr. Klina)

EDITORIAL by Fr. Sava Janjic

Wrong steps in wrong time

If KFOR continues with the present practice of further reduction of troops on expense of security of the local population, primarily Serbs but also other vulnerable minorities it will be very hard to expect some promising results from the process of returns this year. Hardly any displaced Serb family would decide to return to an area in which security depends now on those who expelled them five years ago or on UNMIK police which is incapable of bringing to justice perpetrators of at least one major ethnically motivated crime after the conflict.

ERP KIM Info-service
Gracanica, February 12, 2004

The recent decisions of KFOR to continue reduction of deployed forces in the restive UN administered Serbian province has created uneasiness and serious concerns among the local Serbian population and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The year 2004 has already been called a year of intensified returns and it is well known that so far KFOR has played an important role in creating the atmosphere of security for the beleaguered Serbian community which still lives deprived of its most elementary human and religious rights. "KFOR's contribution to the returnee projects, particularly in the Italian area of responsibility (Osojane, Bica, Belo Polje) is very precious, not to mention the  protection of our most valuable holy sites which would be turned into rubble by Albanian extremists without KFOR's protection", says Bishop Artemije, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. "However, the recent decisions to remove KFOR check points in Velika Hoca and several Serb villages in Central Kosovo has already produced counter effects - several Serb families have already decided to leave Kosovo discouraged by the absence of effective protection. The others are announcing that they would leave if such measures continue", added the Bishop.

Avoiding of responsibility

For the Serbian Orthodox Church the most striking example of the new KFOR's policy is the case of the Holy Archangels Monastery which still remains under the guard of German KFOR although the monks remain practically unable to freely visit their congregation because the KFOR denies them escorts. Handing over escorts to UNMIK or (even worse) to Kosovo police in the situation when even KFOR military vehicles were damaged by Kosovo Albanian crowd (incident in Djakovica on Jan 21) is completely illogical and looks more like an attempt to avoid responsibility than to switch to a more efficient method of protection. Would UNMIK police cars with a bunch of policemen from Jordan or Pakistan give better protection to Christian priests than highly trained NATO soldiers when they want to visit their isolated communities and ruined holy sites? Of course not, because even KFOR often refuses escorts to risky areas in order to avoid possible conflicts with Albanian extremists. In practical terms the new decision of German KFOR means that the Holy Archangels brothers can only remain in their monastery without possibility of providing their pastoral services to the people, especially the returnees. No need to say that this untimely measure, which is seen by monks as punitive will have very negative consequences for the religious rights of the Serb Orthodox community in Prizren area.

Not the "lack of cooks" but of elementary human solidarity

"We are particularly offended by the behavior of some German officers and soldiers who behave towards us like an occupation force and not as peacekeepers", says Abbot Herman of the Holy Archangels monastery. "We definitely do not depend on their food and we can provide our supplies ourselves, but so far it has been a matter of elementary human solidarity and kindness that their soldiers who keep guard at the St. George's church in Prizren share their food rations with our priest who cannot normally buy food in town. We ourselves have always offered to their soldiers food and drink whenever they would visit our monastery and so far have had quite friendly relations with the previous contingents of German KFOR. However, their latest decision that the soldiers at St. George's must throw away the remaining food into garbage rather than to share it with our priest is definitely not a consequence of their "lack of food or cooks" as they officially told me. In fact, this is basic lack of human solidarity which is so important for the peacekeeping forces. They are here to help and win the confidence of the local population and not to evoke the painful memories from the past century", says Fr. Herman.

With KFOR Serb families will leave too

The situation is especially alarming in the villages of Miroca and Slatina near Vucitrn, north from Pristina, because the local Serbs had to leave their homes after the Greek KFOR had been withdrawn by the decision of the KFOR Headquarters. According to the news coming from Serbs in the neighboring village of Gojbulja it is very possible that in a short period only a few Serb families would remain in their homes. Local Serbs are afraid for their children, particularly after the massacre of Serb children in Gorazdevac, near Pec, which still remains unsolved case. Many of them cannot understand how they can have confidence Kosovo police after more than four years of unrestrained ethnic Albanian violence in which 2000 Serbs have been kidnapped or killed and more than 100 churches destroyed. The role of UNMIK and Kosovo police has become only registration of crimes. Every investigation so far has been a failure and the atmosphere of impunity only encourages further ethnic cleansing of Serb people from their homes.

In one of his latest communiqués Kosovo's ombudsperson Mr. Marek Antoni Nowicki (Poland) expressed his serious concern after KFOR left some Serb villages in central Kosovo without immediate protection. The Serbs there according to Nowicki are left in precarious situation because they even lack telephone lines to call the police in case of danger. On the other hand the most of Kosovo Albanian policemen who are now expected to protect the Serbs were the members of the former UCK and so far there has been many cases of official abuses against the local Serbs. UNMIK police itself is a mish-mash ranging from highly professional Italian Carabinieri who are trained to cope with organized crime and terrorism, nonchalant U.S. sheriffs from Texas or Arizona, to completely incompetent and poorly trained policemen from African or Asian countries, many of whom do not even speak elementary English. Those policeman who would really like to do their job very soon learn that the best job to do in Kosovo is to leave everything as it is and stay alive. Those rare ones who want to help Serbs to resolve their everyday problems usually become targets of Albanian hatred or are labeled as biased by their colleagues.

Reduction of KFOR troops a threat to returns

If KFOR continues with the present practice of further reduction of troops on expense of security of the local population, not only Serbs but also other vulnerable minorities, it will be very hard to expect some promising results from the process of returns this year. Hardly any displaced Serb family would decide to return to an area in which security depends now on those who expelled them five years ago or on UNMIK police which is incapable of bringing to justice perpetrators of at least one major ethnically motivated crime after the conflict.

In short, KFOR's policy of handing over responsibility over vulnerable ethnic and religious communities in areas of increased security risk to Kosovo police will create a new wave of refugees and will seriously obstruct the implementation of UNMIK's standards in Kosovo. Particularly sensitive is the issue of protection of Serb patrimonial sites because the UNSC RES 1244 envisaged "the Serb personnel" presence at the sites which were eventually taken under the protection of KFOR. In case that KFOR withdraws from the holy sites and leaves the monastic communities at the mercy of Albanian extremists NATO led peacekeepers would inevitably find themselves in the role of active collaborators in the process of ethnic cleansing which they came to prevent. This would also destabilize the already unstable security situation in the region.


CONTENTS:

Kurir daily: KFOR abandons Serbs
Serbs from the Kosovo villages of Miroca and Slatina have left their centuries-old homes in fear for their very lives after members of Greek KFOR left these villages about two weeks ago and the Kosovo Police Service assumed policing duties.

Serb house in Vitina set on fire - no casualties
Locals say this is the third arson attempt against the Piric house, the only remaining Serb home in Milosa Obilica Street in Vitina.

Coalition POVRATAK objects to Standards implementation plan
Serbian Coalition Povratak (Return) deputies in the Kosovo parliament have adopted a document containing objections to the Kosovo standards implementation plan, which they plan to forward to international community officials in the province.

Covic says Belgrade ready for Kosovo dialogue
"I'm happy to hear they are eager to resume the dialogue, since after wasting much time we're finally going to start resolving the everyday problems facing the citizens of Kosovo," said Covic.

News from Kosovo and Metohija, February 10-11


Report from the JUNGE WELT, Berlin, about the latest measures of German KFOR against the brotherhood of the Holy Archangels monastery in Prizren

Moderne Christenverfolgung - Bundeswehr entzieht serbischen Moenchen Shutz vor albanischen Terroiristen

Wenn die KFOR die Serben nicht mehr mit Lebensmitteln, Elektrizität und Eskorten unterstützt, sind sie albanischen Gewalttätern auf Gedeih und Verderb ausgeliefert. Diese haben seit Stationierung der KFOR im Juni 1999 30 Kirchen und Klöster allein im deutschen Sektor zerstört, 100 im gesamten Kosovo, darunter viele unersetzliche Baudenkmäler mit Fresken aus dem frühen Mittelalter. »Keiner der Täter ist je vor Gericht gebracht worden, und es gibt nicht einmal einen Beweis, daß überhaupt Ermittlungen angestellt wurden«, kritisiert die Diözese.



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http://www.kosovo.net/erpkiminfo.html


KFOR abandons Serbs

Serbs from the Kosovo villages of Miroca and Slatina have left their centuries-old homes in fear for their very lives after members of Greek KFOR left these villages about two weeks ago and the Kosovo Police Service assumed policing duties.

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Kurir daily, Belgrade
February 11, 2004

KFOR abandons Serbs

Belgrade - Serbs from the Kosovo villages of Miroca and Slatina have left their centuries-old homes in fear for their very lives after members of Greek KFOR left these villages about two weeks ago and the Kosovo Police Service assumed policing duties.

"The Serbs have moved to Gojbulja, a larger Serb village in Vucitrn municipality," Milovan Popovic, the municipal coordinator for Vucitrn in the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, told "Kurir". He added that the Serbs in the village of Grace have decided to stay in their homes despite the departure of KFOR.

KFOR has announced that it will be withdrawing from Gojbulja, too, which, according to Popovic, has strongly discouraged the Serbs and left them in a state of apathy and hopelessness.

"These people have nowhere to go. For some of them, living in a collective refugee center may be a worse fate than staying here and being killed," said Popovic, adding that an attempt was made to set a Serb house in Slatina on fire the very first day after KFOR's departure.

"UNMIK remains deaf to all pleas and the Coordinating Center's abilities are limited; hence we can expect an even worse situation for the remaining Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija," said Popovic. (M.L.)

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Serb house in Vitina set on fire, no casualties

Locals say this is the third arson attempt against the Piric house, the only remaining Serb home in Milosa Obilica Street in Vitina.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
February 11, 2004

Serb house in Vitina set on fire, no casualties

VITINA - A fire broke out in the house of Mita Miric of Vitina this evening. The fire resulted in significant material damage but there were no casualites, local residents told "Beta" news agency;.

Thanks to rapid response by firefighters, the fire was localized.

According to local residents, unknown persons set the fire to the house, which was inhabited at the time by Piric's sister, Trajka Piric.

Locals say this is the third arson attempt against the Piric house, the only remaining Serb home in Milosa Obilica Street in Vitina.


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Coalition Povratak objects to standards implementation plan

Serbian Coalition Povratak (Return) deputies in the Kosovo parliament have adopted a document containing objections to the Kosovo standards implementation plan, which they plan to forward to international community officials in the province.

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Serbian Government
Kosovska Mitrovica, February 12, 2004


Serbian Coalition Povratak (Return) deputies in the Kosovo parliament have adopted a document containing objections to the Kosovo standards implementation plan, which they plan to forward to international community officials in the province.

The coalition officials said they hope that the objections will be incorporated in the standards implementation plan which has not year been completed.

The document will be forwarded to UNMIK head Harri Holkeri, as well as the Contact Group ambassadors to Serbia-Montenegro and the heads of their offices in Pristina, Coalition Povratak said in a statement.

The Kosovo standards document has no clear relation to the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and only vaguely stipulates the right to return of all refugees and displaced persons, the statement said. At the same time, the document envisages less minority rights than the Constitutional Framework for Kosovo-Metohija, the statement added.

The document has also failed to address the problem of public and commercial debts in the province and to guarantee the protection of ownership rights in the process of privatisation and the transformation of the Kosovo Protection Corps, the statement said.

Serb political leaders in Kosovo have not been included in the drawing up of UNMIK's Kosovo standards document. The UN Security Council has invited them to take part in the preparation of the standards implementation plan.


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Covic says Belgrade ready for Kosovo dialogue

"I'm happy to hear they are eager to resume the dialogue, since after wasting much time we're finally going to start resolving the everyday problems facing the citizens of Kosovo," said Covic.

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FoNet News Agency, Belgrade
February 11, 2004

BELGRADE -- Wednesday - Belgrade is ready to resume dialogue with the authorities in Kosovo, regardless of the change of government in Serbia, the head of Belgrade's Coordination Centre for the province said today.

Nebojsa Covic welcomed recent statements from Kosovo Albanian leaders that they are prepared to attend talks with the Serbian authorities.

"I'm happy to hear they are eager to resume the dialogue, since after wasting much time we're finally going to start resolving the everyday problems facing the citizens of Kosovo," said Covic. He emphasised that the outgoing Serbian government, and the Coordination Centre, are continuing to function as normal.


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News from Kosovo and Metohija, 10-11 Feb

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I*Net News, Belgrade

KOSOVO AND METOHIJA NEWS

Monday 11 February 2004

23:00 The Kosovo government rejects talks on technical issues with the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija led by Serbian deputy prime minister Nebojsa Covic, stated Kosovo provisional government spokesperson Mimosa Kusari.

19:20 Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic said that Belgrade is ready to continue dialogue with Pristina, emphasizing that this is why it is important that "the state is functioning".

19:00 UNMIK spokesperson Isabella Karlowicz stated in Pristina that dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina officials will resume regardless of the political situation in Serbia.

13:20 Since the end of the war to the present day "thousands of Serbs have been murdered, and those Orthodox who remain live in ghettos segregated from the mainstream of society" stated Joseph Grieboski, the president of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, at a congressional debate on global religious rights. Grieboski said that five years after the NATO intervention against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija "have become second-citizens in their own country, deprived of their basic human rights".

12:40 UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri stated that the plan for implementation of standards for Kosovo and Metohija may be finalized and presented to the UN Security Council "in three to four weeks". In an interview for the BBC in London, where he met with representatives of the British government on the implementation of the standards for Kosovo, Holkeri was not ready to provide concrete dates for continuing talks between Belgrade and Pristina on standards because, in his words, "there is always the danger of fueling speculation".

Tuesday 10 February 2004

23:20 Vladimir Bozovic, the head of the sector for judicial issues and human rights in the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, stated that it would be completely normal for the Serb side to be represented in working groups from Kosovo and Metohija in dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Speaking at a press conference, Bozovic said that the international community is advocating multiethnicity and that he hopes that the working groups from Kosovo and Metohija will also include Serbs. He emphasized that any other approach would be discriminatory toward the Serb community.

22:40 The U.S. falsely justified the bombing of Serbia by citing mass expulsion of the population and genocide in Kosovo, claims Bo Pellnas, Swedish analyst, retired general, Balkan peace negotiator, and former OSCE representative in Belgrade. In the Stockholm daily "Dagens Nyheter", Pellnas offers a new Swedish perspective on events that preceded NATO air attacks on Serbia in 1999.

14:00 Former ethnic Albanian rebel leader Shefqet Musliu has denied charges including kidnapping and unlawful possession of weapons at the start of his trial in eastern Kosovo. Musliu, who led a guerrilla insurgency in southern Serbia in early 2001, claimed his trial was politically motivated. "With this trial the international community is trying to cover up its failure in implementing the Konculj agreement, which ended the conflict between Albanian guerrillas and Serbian security forces," he said.

13:40 Kosovo government spokesperson Mimosa Kusari has said that the provincial government is ready for a resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina talks, announcing that the resumption of talks might be postponed because "there is still no partner for the talks". "Since a Belgrade government has not been formed, I think that the dialogue will be postponed, perhaps even until sometime after March," Kusari said. She added that the Kosovo side was ready for the dialogue on defined issues and that working groups for the return of displaced persons, and transportation and communication, would be formed soon.

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http://www.jungewelt.de/2004/02-09/005.php

KOSOVO:
Moderne Christenverfolgung: Bundeswehr entzieht serbichen Moenchen Shutz vor albanischen Terroristen

Wenn die KFOR die Serben nicht mehr mit Lebensmitteln, Elektrizität und Eskorten unterstützt, sind sie albanischen Gewalttätern auf Gedeih und Verderb ausgeliefert. Diese haben seit Stationierung der KFOR im Juni 1999 30 Kirchen und Klöster allein im deutschen Sektor zerstört, 100 im gesamten Kosovo, darunter viele unersetzliche Baudenkmäler mit Fresken aus dem frühen Mittelalter. »Keiner der Täter ist je vor Gericht gebracht worden, und es gibt nicht einmal einen Beweis, daß überhaupt Ermittlungen angestellt wurden«, kritisiert die Diözese.

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J
unge Welt: 09.02.2004
Jürgen Elsässer

»Ich bin entsetzt über die Behandlung meiner Mönche. Dieses Verhalten seitens des deutschen Militärkontingents wird zur vollständigen Vertreibung der serbischen Kirche aus einer Region führen, in der sie jahrhundertelang überlebt hat, selbst unter türkischer Herrschaft«, protestierte Bischof Artemije, der höchste Würdenträger der serbisch-orthodoxen Kirche im Kosovo, Anfang Februar.

Die aktuelle Verschlechterung des Verhältnisses zwischen Besatzungsmacht und Gläubigen geht auf einen Überfall von 30 albanischen Gewalttätern am 21. Januar auf orthodoxe Mönche in Djakovica zurück, die ein ARD-Fernsehteam und eine KFOR-Eskorte begleitet hatte. Die Diozöse informierte daraufhin die Presse, Belgrader Zeitungen berichteten ausführlich. Die deutschen Militärs, die nach der Beschädigung ihrer Fahrzeuge bei der Attacke allen Grund gehabt hätten, die albanischen Täter mit Nachdruck zu verfolgen, wandten seltsamerweise ihren Zorn gegen die serbischen Opfer. Als erstes verweigerten sie dem gerade angegriffenen Kloster Djakovica die weitere Verwendung ihres Stromgenerators – mitten im Winter eine beinahe tödliche Maßnahme. Als zweites stoppten sie die Lebensmittellieferungen an den letzten serbischen Priester, der im Bischofssitz in Prizren, der Hauptstadt der deutschen Zone, die Stellung hält. Drittens wurden alle Militäreskorten gestrichen, die bisher Reisen der Gläubigen innerhalb Kosovos geschützt hatten. »Die Mönche werden nur deswegen bestraft, weil sie die Wahrheit über den Vorfall in Djakovica veröffentlichten. Die deutsche KFOR wollte alles verschleiern«, protestierte Bischof Artemije.

Wenn die KFOR die Serben nicht mehr mit Lebensmitteln, Elektrizität und Eskorten unterstützt, sind sie albanischen Gewalttätern auf Gedeih und Verderb ausgeliefert. Diese haben seit Stationierung der KFOR im Juni 1999 30 Kirchen und Klöster allein im deutschen Sektor zerstört, 100 im gesamten Kosovo, darunter viele unersetzliche Baudenkmäler mit Fresken aus dem frühen Mittelalter. »Keiner der Täter ist je vor Gericht gebracht worden, und es gibt nicht einmal einen Beweis, daß überhaupt Ermittlungen angestellt wurden«, kritisiert die Diözese. Orahovac und Prizren sind die letzten Stützpunkte der Orthodoxie in der deutschen Zone. In Prizren, wo vor dem NATO-Einmarsch 20000 Serben lebten, sind gerade noch 60 übrig. Insgesamt sind seit Juni 1999 zwischen 200000 (Angaben des Roten Kreuzes) und 360000 (serbische Regierungsangaben) Nicht-Albaner aus dem Kosovo geflüchtet oder vertrieben worden, 80 000 bis 120 000 sollen noch in der Provinz leben. Die Bevölkerungszahl der albanischen Mehrheit wird mit knapp zwei Millionen angegeben. »In den letzten vier Jahren sind trotz des KFOR- Protektorats 2 500 Serben und andere Nicht-Albaner ums Leben gekommen«, klagte der serbische Ministerpräsident Zoran Zivkovic, ein durchaus NATO-freundlicher Politiker, beim Staatsbesuch in Berlin Ende November 2003.

Bei einer Visite im Kloster Prizren Ende Januar erklärte Hauptmann Maik Stiehlers, Sprecher der deutsche KFOR-Kommandantur, daß die Geistlichen eben mit Überfällen rechnen müßten, da »Serben hier viele Albaner getötet haben«. Insbesondere kritisierte er Bischof Artemije, da dieser »immer auf der UN-Resolution 1244 besteht und darauf, daß das Kosovo ein Teil Serbiens ist«. Die genannte UN-Resolution is die völkerrechtliche Grundlage für die Stationierung der KFOR im Kosovo und legt als deren Auftrag unter anderem die »Gewährleistung der öffentlichen Sicherheit und Ordnung« (Artikel 9d) fest.



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