February 23, 2004
ERP KIM Newsletter 23-02-04b
Rugova did not visit church in Bicha or met with an Orthodox priest
The village of Bicha has neither a church nor an Orthodox priest and therefore the cited meeting could not have occurred as reported by "Koha Ditore". In its official communiqué of February 21, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren described the visit of Holkeri and Rugova to the Serb returnee villages of Bicha and Belo Polje as media manipulation of the unfortunate inhabitants whose real intent is to promote Rugova and his party at the beginning of the pre-election campaign, not to promote Serb returnsERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, February 23, 2004
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija denies claims by the Pristina Albanian language daily "Koha Ditore" (later also transmitted by some Belgrade media agencies) according to which Harri Holkeri and Ibrahim Rugova allegedly met "in the church of the village of Bicha with the Orthodox priest and local leaders and learned about living conditions".
The village of Bicha has neither a church nor an Orthodox priest and therefore the cited meeting could not have occurred as reported by "Koha Ditore". In its official communiqué of February 21, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren described the visit of Holkeri and Rugova to the Serb returnee villages of Bicha and Belo Polje as media manipulation of the unfortunate inhabitants whose real intent is to promote Rugova and his party at the beginning of the pre-election campaign, not to promote Serb returns.
It is truly absurd that, on the one hand, Serbs are being called upon to return while, on the other, Klina mayor Ramo Manaj, in the presence of Rugova and Holkeri, cynically informs Serbs in Bicha that returns to Klina are unacceptable "until the fates of missing Albanians are resolved". It is even more absurd that the UNMIK chief and the so-called president of Kosovo are calling on Serbs to return to their centuries-old homes without first being able to guarantee them even minimal security and property rights, as demonstrated by the numerous crimes against Serbs, among the double murder of Serbs in Lipljan which occurred only a few days ago.
While it is true that Serb refugees from Klina, who are now temporarily living in Bicha, really want to return to their homes, they are being persistently prevented from doing so by the leadership of Rugova's party, which actually organized demonstrations against Serb returns at the time of Holkeri's visit. The same municipal officials have issued falsified property ownership documents to Albanians who have usurped Serb property; in order to now cover up their manipulations with Serb property, the mayor is manipulating the feelings of families of missing Albanians whose fate is being used an excuse so that Serbs can never return to their homes.
Ibrahim Rugova is very aware of manipulations by municipal officials who are under the control of his political party in Klina and Pec, and aside from a few empty phrases about Kosovo and Metohija's future in NATO and the EU and the need for Serbs to integrate into society, which incidentally offers them nothing, he has not said anything new.
These dishonest safaris to visit unfortunate Serbs which are organized solely for the media promotion of the failed UNMIK mission and the debacle of Kosovo provisional institutions only sow even greater interethnic discord and generate intolerance and violence in the southernmost Serbian province.
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