January 17, 2004

ERP KIM Newsletter 17-01-04

Bishop Artemije meets with UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri in Gracanica

Bishop Artemije gave Mr. Holkeri a copy of the book "Crucified Kosovo", explaining that not one of the monasteries and churches mentioned in the book has been restored. On the contrary, new instances of church desecrations continue to occur, like recently in Donja Brnjica on the eve of Christmas: "What the extremists have not blown up with explosives, local institutions are attempting to finish off in a different manner, like the recent attempt to usurp the Church of Christ the Savior and the property on which it is built in Pristina," said the Bishop. He added that such examples of institutional abuse represent a threat to Serb rights and security.


Bishop Artemije and UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri in Gracanica, January 16, 2004
Photo in larger format 150 dpi, width 15 cm available at
/vlad_holkeri1v.jpg

CONTENTS:

Bishop Artemije meets with UNMIK's chief Harri Holkeri in Gracanica
The Bishop emphasized that the present Kosovo parliament is well on its way to realizing an independent Kosovo, as a first step. The next step will be the creation of a Greater (ethnic) Albania. "If we did not have this experience behind us, it would be easy to give you our support. As matters stand, you neither have nor can expect support from us," Bishop Artemije told the UNMIK chief.
The doors of all working groups for the implementation of standards in Kosovo are open to the Serb Return coalition and members of the Serb community in the province, governor Harri Holkeri said today.

PRAVDA: Russian Orthodox Fund horrified with events in Kosovo
Since 1999, over 120 Orthodox churches have been destroyed in the region. After his visit to Kosovo Alexander Melnik said: "We knew that destruction of Orthodox relics was catastrophic, but did not expect it was so dangerous. We say this is genocide. We expect to draw close attention of public and political organizations, Europe's influential political and public commissions to the problem of Kosovo Serbs."


RFE/RL In Focus - Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo
Although slightly decreased from the previous year, 2003 saw 42 shootings and grenade/bomb attacks in Kosovo, according to a August 2003 report from KFOR, which maintains 22,000 troops in Kosovo. One of the grimmest incidents has left the community traumatized, despairing of ever being able to enjoy security and justice in Kosovo. On 13 August 2003, an unknown person opened fire with an automatic weapon on a group of six Kosovo Serb teenagers swimming in the Bistrica River between Zahac and Gorazdevac. A 19-year-old died instantly, and a 12-year-old boy died on the way to hospital. A third teenager suffered a severe head wound.

Holkeri - we do not want a year of conflicts
I would better stick to the practical side of our mission than to the speculative one. My here is to prepare the executive plan for the standards and our time is limited, but we are in a positive mood. I understand the dreams of Kosovo politicians, and it is their top dream, because they have responsibilities to their people as well. But in the name of UNMIK I cannot promise anything, but our readiness.

Belgrade not obstructing Pristina dialogue
Emphasising that Belgrade is keen to continue the dialogue, Covic accused UNMIK of failing to ensure a multi-ethnic make-up of working groups for talks on repatriation, security, energy, traffic and transport.

Bomb in North Kosovo explodes near a house of Serb returnees, no one injured
Explosive device that is most likely to be a bomb, has exploded in the vicinity of a house renovated for Serbian returnees. Investigation at the scene of the incident ha been conducted by UNMIK and KPS, which have visited the place a couple of times. So far there have been no reports on the results of the investigation.

News from Kosovo and Metohija, 15-16 January

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Holkeri: "I do not wish to use force against the institutions"
Bishop Artemije: "By the same token, you must prevent those institutions of using force against us"
Photo in larger format 150 dpi, width 15 cm available at  http://www.kosovo.net/vlad_holkeri2v.jpg

Bishop Artmije meets with UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri in Gracanica

The Bishop emphasized that the present Kosovo parliament is well on its way to realizing an independent Kosovo, as a first step. The next step will be the creation of a Greater (ethnic) Albania. "If we did not have this experience behind us, it would be easy to give you our support. As matters stand, you neither have nor can expect support from us," Bishop Artemije told the UNMIK chief.

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ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, January 16, 2004

UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri and Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija held a meeting this morning in the bishop's residence of Gracanica Monastery. At the very start of the meeting, Mr. Holkeri emphasized that he had come to talk with Bishop Artemije because he wants to hear the opinion of everyone in Kosovo, adding that one of the chief standards of his mission is "to become unnecessary in Kosovo and Metohija".

Bishop Artemije: Security is a key problem

The Bishop thanked Mr. Holkeri for his visit, emphasizing that the monastery in which the meeting took place is 700 years old, like many other monasteries from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, which attest to the one thousand year presence of the Serbs in the region. "Today these Serbian Orthodox monasteries and this people are living under extremely difficult circumstances." The Bishop cited especially the examples of the brotherhood of Visoki Decani Monastery and the sisterhood of the Pec Patriarchate, which Mr. Holkeri recently had occasion to visit and which, according to the Bishop, are living under much more difficult security conditions than the sisterhood of Gracanica Monastery and the Serbs in this central Kosovo enclave.

Nevertheless, "we cannot be satisfied with the situation in this part of Kosovo, either," added the Bishop, nothing that "everyone must live in Kosovo and Metohija - Albanians, Serbs, Roma - and it must not be allowed for only one people to remain. This is why we are seeking the consistent implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which in fact foresees a multiethnic and multiconfessional society to be realized by UNMIK and KFOR. However, many provisions of Resolution 1244 remain to be fulfilled on the ground and many crimes have been committed against Serbs for which no one has been brought to justice," concluded Bishop Artemije, reminding Mr. Holkeri of the massacre of the children in Gorazdevac and the murder of the Stolic family in Obilic just before, as well as of recent events near Lipljan and Klokot.

Bishop Artemije also expressed horror as a result of the Albanian attack in Decani on a bus carrying Russian humanitarians on the very day of the Nativity of Christ, which is celebrated as a day of peace and goodwill. "Since none of the perpetrators was arrested and all of them remain at liberty, we are not free in Kosovo and Metohija. Instead we have gotten many promises which were not kept in practice. It is time to move from words to deeds," concluded the Bishop in his introductory remarks.

Holkeri: Chief obstacle is "wall of silence" in Kosovo

Mr. Holkeri emphasized that he sharply condemned all the cited incidents and ordered his investigators to undertake effective measures to find the perpetrators which, he said, must be brought to justice. "There are serious obstacles to the work of these investigators, the so-called "wall of silence", which prevents them from doing their job. I cannot believe," continued Mr. Holkeri, "that the attack on the Russian humanitarians in Decani was spontaneous nor the attack on representatives of the World Bank. That is why I need your support, too, in order to convince people to cooperate with the Kosovo Police Service," Mr. Holkeri told Bishop Artemije.

The UNMIK chief also emphasized that he praised the KPS before UN Security Council due to the fact that it consists of 6,000 police of all nationalities, who have themselves been targets of attack while working on resolving some cases, resulting in the death of two persons. "However, we have to move forward," said Mr. Holkeri, concluding his response to the introductory statement of Bishop Artemije.

Mr. Holkeri then immediately raised a new issue - the issue of the Standards for Kosovo. He explained that he had also met briefly on this issue with [Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Dr. Nebojsa] Covic yesterday in Belgrade but that he did not receive a final answer due to the complex situation following the parliamentary elections in Serbia.

Bishop Artemije emphasized that since the very arrival of the international community in Kosovo, he has actively cooperated in transitional councils, in agreements regarding the participation of Serbs in Kosovo parliamentary elections in October 2002, in encouraging Serbs to participate in the work of all institutions in Kosovo, the adoption of many documents, etc.

"Every time the Serb community received many promises which were unfortunately not kept in practice. The presence of Serbs in the Kosovo parliament has only created the appearance of multiethnicity while, on the other hand, not one of their initiatives has been upheld and many laws against the interests of Kosovo Serbs have been passed," said the Bishop. One of the most drastic examples of broken promises to the Serb community, the Bishop continued, was Steiner's empty promise that Kosovo and Metohija would be decentralized if Serbs participated in the October 2002 elections.

Bishop Artemije: "You cannot expect our support for an independent Kosovo and Greater Albania"

The Bishop also emphasized that the present parliament is well on its way to realizing an independent Kosovo, as a first step. The next step will be the creation of a Greater (ethnic) Albania. "If we did not have this experience behind us, it would be easy to give you our support. As matters stand, you neither have nor can expect support from us," Bishop Artemije told the UNMIK chief.

Bishop Artemije went on to say that while drafting the text on standards, no one consulted the Serbs in either Kosovo or Belgrade, nor him personally, and that he therefore has no notion regarding what kind of task groups are involved and who is supposed to be on them. He also emphasized the problem of lack of [criteria] to precisely determine to what extent the given standards have been met.

The Bishop explained that Mr. Rugova recently stated that the Albanians in Kosovo have already supposedly met most of the standards, a statement the Bishop considered to be completely unwarranted. As one of the most obvious examples, he cited the institutional blockage of Serb returns to Kosovo, especially in Klina, where municipal authorities are refusing to allow Serb returnees to return to their homes even though they are willing to integrate into society. The Bishop also reminded Mr. Holkeri of the announced dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which essentially did not occur. "We do not want the fate of Kosovo to be discussed without Belgrade nor do we want it to be discussed only with Belgrade without including representatives from Kosovo," Bishop Artemije said, clarifying his position. "Do you want a Kosovo including only the Serbs who remain here or one including displaced persons as well?" the Bishop finally asked Mr. Holkeri.

Mr. Holkeri responded that work on the standards must continue, nevertheless, because those are his instructions from the UN Security Council and Secretary-General, who have tasked him with submitting quarterly reports regarding the situation on the ground. He explained which task groups were planned, and noted that some Serb suggestions were incorporated despite the fact that they did not directly participate in drafting the document on Standards for Kosovo. The preamble itself was finally amended according to suggestions from Belgrade, and the term "minorities" was substituted with the term "communities". The UNMIK chief emphasized that he himself was not satisfied with the outcome of the dialogue begun in Vienna which was "begun but not opened". Mr. Holkeri went on to once again call on Serbs to participate in the implementation of the Standards for Kosovo because, he said, they do not relate to the future status of Kosovo but to improvement of living conditions.

At the end of the meeting Bishop Artemije requested Mr. Holkeri's assistance and protection from abuse in receiving humanitarian aid for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, citing the recent difficulties in receiving heating oil for the use of the sisterhood of Gracanica Monastery and the bishop's residence in Gracanica.

Bishop Artemije gave Mr. Holkeri a copy of the book "Crucified Kosovo", explaining that not one of the monasteries and churches mentioned in the book has been restored. On the contrary, new instances of church desecrations continue to occur, like recently in Donja Brnjica on the eve of Christmas: "What the extremists have not blown up with explosives, local institutions are attempting to finish off in a different manner, like the recent attempt to usurp the Church of Christ the Savior and the property on which it is built in Pristina," said the Bishop. He added that such examples of institutional abuse represent a threat to Serb rights and security. Bishop Artemije requested written guarantees and final annulment of this decision by Mr. Holkeri, since it was only suspended on the same day it was passed (December 31, 2003).

Mr. Holkeri expressed his conviction that Serbian rights will be protected and promised to send the Bishop an executive order regarding the case of the Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina in written form. With regard to humanitarian aid, Mr. Holkeri promised greater assistance by UNMIK through direct contact with one of his associates in the event of similar needs in the future.

At the end of their one and a half hour-long meeting, Bishop Artemije and UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri agreed to meet again in the near future to discuss other burning issues in Kosovo and Metohija.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Holkeri's UNMIK advisors with Protosyncellus Simeon Vilovski taking part alongside Bishop Artemije.

SRNA News Agency, Bijeljina
January 16, 2004

Serbs welcome in Kosovo negotiations

GRACANICA -- Friday - The doors of all working groups for the implementation of standards in Kosovo are open to the Serb Return coalition and members of the Serb community in the province, governor Harri Holkeri said today.

Speaking after meeting Bishop Artemije at the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Gracanica, Holkeri told journalists that the process of implementing standards is under way and that he hoped to report to the UN Security Council this week that Serbs were taking part.

"Still, the decision on whether or not they'll join the working groups is up to the Serbs.

"I haven't come to Kosovo to tell Serbs or Albanians what they should do. I'm here to help them reconcile and to prevent the use of force so that we can resolve the problem peacefully," said Holkeri.

Bishop Artemije told journalists that UNMIK is in Kosovo to prevent violence, emphasising that this included violence against Serbs.

 



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Russian Orthodox Fund horrified with events in Kosovo

Since 1999, over 120 Orthodox churches have been destroyed in the region. After his visit to Kosovo Alexander Melnik said: "We knew that destruction of Orthodox relics was catastrophic, but did not expect it was so dangerous. We say this is genocide. We expect to draw close attention of public and political organizations, Europe's influential political and public commissions to the problem of Kosovo Serbs."
 

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PRAVDA (RUSSIA)

01/15/2004 20:05



The Russian Andrey Pervozvany Fund will develop a report for the UN, PACE and UNESCO on the critical situation in Kosovo and Metohja. President of the Fund Alexander Melnik told journalists on Tuesday that the situation is particularly critical for Serbs, the local population of the region.

After his visit to Kosovo Alexander Melnik said: "We knew that destruction of Orthodox relics was catastrophic, but did not expect it was so dangerous. We say this is genocide. We expect to draw close attention of public and political organizations, Europe's influential political and public commissions to the problem of Kosovo Serbs."

On January 3-8, a delegation of the Fund together with Russian journalists went to Kosovo and Metohja for a humanitarian mission. They visited densely populated Serb settlements and Orthodox relics that remained intact. Since 1999, over 120 Orthodox churches have been destroyed in the region.

The president of the Fund was deeply depressed with what he observed during the mission. He says that today Serbs live in a modern ghetto, suffer from unemployment and lack of medical care. Alexander Melnik says that Serbs can travel about the native region only being protected by KFOR and the international police.

Over one thousand of Serbs have been killed and over 250 thousand people have been ousted from their houses since peacemakers were introduced in Kosovo in 1999. The president of the Orthodox Fund says that today 130 thousand Serbs live in Kosovo and only 150 Serbs live in one house protected by the police in Pristina.


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In focus: Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo

Although slightly decreased from the previous year, 2003 saw 42 shootings and grenade/bomb attacks in Kosovo, according to a August 2003 report from KFOR, which maintains 22,000 troops in Kosovo. One of the grimmest incidents has left the community traumatized, despairing of ever being able to enjoy security and justice in Kosovo. On 13 August 2003, an unknown person opened fire with an automatic weapon on a group of six Kosovo Serb teenagers swimming in the Bistrica River between Zahac and Gorazdevac. A 19-year-old died instantly, and a 12-year-old boy died on the way to hospital. A third teenager suffered a severe head wound.

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part of RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies Vol. 5, No. 2, 16 January 2004


The stoning by Kosovons of a bus full of Russian humanitarians with an armed escort has laid bare ongoing ethnic conflict in the region, the frustrations of international peacekeepers, and the mounting concern many Russians have for their fellow Slavs and co-religionists in the Serbian community in Kosovo. A crowd of Kosovo Albanians threw stones at a bus escorted by KFOR troops carrying a delegation from the Russian Andrei Pervozvanny Fund and the Russian-Serbian Society on 7 January, ITAR-TASS and other Russian news services reported. Windows were broken but there were no injuries. The incident happened after the Orthodox Christmas service, celebrated under the old church calendar, at the Visoki Decanci Monastery.

Harri Holkeri, interim UN administration chief, accompanied by KFOR and UN police units, had attended the service. He immediately condemned the attack, Belgrade's BETA news agency reported. The stone-throwers were described variously as numbering "300" by ITAR-TASS, as a "small group" by BETA, and as "three people" by UNMIK. Russia's RTR channel showed a throng of Kosovors jeering and gesturing rudely at the departing bus with shattered windows.

Members of the Serbian National Assembly condemned the attack. "It proves Kosovo Albanians' attitude toward the Orthodox world," ITAR-TASS quoted them as saying.

The Andrei Pervozvanny Fund is named after the apostle, St.Andrew, believed to be the "first-called" apostle in the Orthodox faith. Legend has it that the apostle visited Kyiv in the first century, declaring it to be the site of a magnificent city. The fund, founded in 1992, has made a name for itself seeking out certain conflict zones abroad, such as Kosovo and Iraq, and making contributions of humanitarian goods. Journalists from the state RTR and RIA-Novosti agencies, were among the journalists who traveled with the group to Kosovo. The fund is a conservative organization that conducts domestic education programs as well as missionary work abroad. The group's website (http://www.fap.ru) describes its goal as, "the formation in society of positive relations with the traditional pillars upholding Russia: state, church, and army." In the past, the organization has awarded its St. Andrew Prize for Faith and Loyalty to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenko for his efforts "in uniting the Slavic peoples."Another group on the mission to Kosovo was the Serbian-Russian Friendship Society. In the Soviet past, "friendship" societies were controlled by the state; today, they are nominally independent but still help to carry out the government's foreign policy goals.

Featured at the top of the news hour on Russian television this week, the story of the bus stoning was emblematic of Russian concerns that Serbs are now living as second-class citizens in a guarded ghetto in Kosovo, ignored by the international community.

Some 150 Serbs live under virtual house arrest in an apartment complex in Pristina protected by KFOR, Russian journalists said. Once a week, soldiers take families to do their shopping at the market, and the housing complex maintains its own clinic to avoid hospital visits. Because of frequent violent attacks, children are told to stay indoors, but parents have a hard time keeping them inside. Most of the working-class people do not have the means to move from the region and start new lives. The government in Belgrade wishes to defend its own interests in Kosovo, and wants the international community to ensure the protection of the Serbs who have become a minority there, the report said.

Before the onset of war in 1999, there were 40,000 Serbs in Pristina, Serbian community leaders in Pristina told Russian reporters. Professor Lubisha Folich of Pristina University said he left Pristina after finding his apartment occupied by ethnic Albanians, who offered to buy it at half price. Russian peacekeepers, who number about 100 in Kosovo, say that in housing disputes, local courts favor those in possession of documents. The few Serbs who risk returning to their homes after they managed to get a court order to evict ethnic Albanians are "sometimes killed," RIA Novosti reported on 7 January.

Although slightly decreased from the previous year, 2003 saw 42 shootings and grenade/bomb attacks in Kosovo, according to a August 2003 report from KFOR, which maintains 22,000 troops in Kosovo. One of the grimmest incidents has left the community traumatized, despairing of ever being able to enjoy security and justice in Kosovo. On 13 August 2003, an unknown person opened fire with an automatic weapon on a group of six Kosovo Serb teenagers swimming in the Bistrica River between Zahac and Gorazdevac. A 19-year-old died instantly, and a 12-year-old boy died on the way to hospital. A third teenager suffered a severe head wound. While the motives were not known, Serbs and Russians blame Kosovo Albanians.

On 13 January, Russian TV's "Vesti" aired a Christmas Eve interview with the father of one of the slain boys in a snowy churchyard, with bells ringing. It is one of many unsolved hate crimes that Russian groups have cited in a human rights report on ethnic minorities in Kosovi that they have sent to the United Nations and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

As in Russia, the Serbian Orthodox Church is consolidating itself in society after years of persecution in the communist era. In November 2003, Serbian government officials, led by Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, met with Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle and members of the Serbian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod to discuss the current situation in the country and relations between the state and the church, official news agencies reported. "Meetings of this kind can strengthen the grounds of a new tradition and bolster ties between the state and the church in these trying times for both the Serbian state and its people," said Zivkovic in a press statement.

The outgoing Serbian cabinet overturned a 1952 decree that abolished Belgrade University's theological faculty when the country was under communist rule. The faculty has now been restored, "righting a historical injustice," FoNet reported on 9 January. The reassertion of the church has angered some. The Macedonian Orthodox Church, for example, has complained that the Serbian Orthodox Church will not recognize Macedonia's independence and has interfered in its affairs.

In a Christmas message, Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren who heads the Kosovo diocese, said the Serbian Orthodox Church will continue to side with parishes in Kosovo. "If the Serbian Church left Kosovo, not a single Serb, not a single monastery or cathedral would remain," Bishop Artemije was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti on 7 January. Attacks against clergy and church property in Kosovo have fueled ethnic hatred in the region for decades, and Serbs often cite the atrocities committed against the church as evidence that Kosovo cannot be granted independence. The bishop travels in an armored vehicle; humanitarians and now journalists, too, are advised to have an armed escort.

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has frequently had to intervene with troops and make public condemnations of ethnically motivated attacks against the Serbs. Nevertheless, on 31 December 2003, UNMIK transferred a final set of responsibilities to local provisional institutions as part of a commitment to gradually introduce self-government to Kosovo, the UN news agency IRIN reported on 31 December 2003. The goal has been to try to establish greater autonomy for the region. Some functions, including the supervision of an independent media commission, will not be operational until enabling legislation is passed. UNMIK will retain power over security, foreign relations, minority rights protection, and energy.

In making the transition, the UN Security Council passed a resolution concerning "standards for Kosovo" regarding a range of issues including human rights, until the Province's final status can be determined. The standards include: functioning democratic institutions, rule of law, freedom of movement, returns and reintegration, economy, property rights, dialogue with Belgrade, and the operation of the Kosovo Protection Corps -- all issues that directly affect the Serbian and other minorities remaining in Kosovo.

A representative of the UN secretary-general is to work out a monitoring and implementation mechanism for the standards, and a comprehensive review is expected in mid-2005. At that time, the issue of Kosovo's status may also be reviewed, although Serbian leaders say with a lack of protection for the Serbian minority and little improvement in the last four years, they cannot support independence.

At a press conference to release the standards, reported by AFP on 10 December 2003, Holkeri said, "In a sense this document represents a choice.... Achieve the standards and the international community will in due course make the necessary decisions to consider Kosovo's final status. Fail them, and Kosovo will remain stuck, backward, left behind perhaps for decades to come."

No perpetrators of attacks on religious sites have ever been found, and KFOR says it has "no knowledge of the alleged events,"

Forum 18 reports. An Orthodox priest told F18 that, while grateful to KFOR for the protection they have afforded, they are critical about the lack of results on investigating such crimes and the slow responses. They noted that troops took 10 hours to assemble a military vehicle escort to travel to a village to comfort the families of the teenagers shot and wounded. Two weeks before Christmas, a hand grenade was thrown into the yard of St. Uros Church, damaging a vehicle; churches are frequently vandalized and property stolen.

These persistent attacks on Serbs in Kosovo and the failure to improve the situation there, as well as demands of the international community to extradite war criminals, have moved Serbian voters to back radicals in recent elections, former Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in an interview last week with a Zagreb weekly, as reported by AFP. In December 2003 parliamentary elections, the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party won with 27 percent of the vote. Kostunica's reformist Democratic Party of Serbia came in second, with nearly 18 percent. Analysts have disagreed whether the radicalization of the electorate signifies the persistence of ethnic hatred and the search for facile solutions, or dissatisfaction with the government's failure to deliver economic improvements.

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Holkeri - We do not want a year of conflits

I would better stick to the practical side of our mission than to the speculative one. My here is to prepare the executive plan for the standards and our time is limited, but we are in a positive mood. I understand the dreams of Kosovo politicians, and it is their top dream, because they have responsibilities to their people as well. But in the name of UNMIK I cannot promise anything, but our readiness.

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Kosovo Sot - Pristina Daily in Albanian language
Pristina, January 16, 2004

Interview with Kosovo chief administrator, Harry Holkeri

Kosovo Sot: The president of the parliament declared that UNMIK should leave in 2005. Is there any evaluation either from your side or from your chiefs in New York when is UNMIK’s mission ending?

Holkeri: I hope that this day will be earlier than sooner. But the actual situation is not allowing me to speculate. I would better stick to the practical side of our mission than to the speculative one. My here is to prepare the executive plan for the standards and our time is limited, but we are in a positive mood. I understand the dreams of Kosovo politicians, and it is their top dream, because they have responsibilities to their people as well. But in the name of UNMIK I cannot promise anything, but our readiness.

Kosovo Sot: In the year that past you closed the process of transfer of the unreserved competences. You know that the government is asking from you to transfer the other competences as well which are the right of the special representative. Can we expect any movement in this direction during this year?

Holkeri: First, I want to say that the directions come from the Security Council of the UN and they approved the resolution 1244 and also decided for the Constitutional Framework, which notices very clearly that there are some competences that belong to the local authorities, while the others belong to UNMIK. All the duties that could have been transferred are already transferred. We are working together with the local institutions even with those issues that are in our area of responsibility. This is being done so that the local institutions know the procedures, because we are partners. One day, of course all competencies will be transferred and UNMIK will leave Kosovo and the authority will be in the hands of the locals. But when is this going to happen, that decision will be brought by the Security Council and not by Pristina or Belgrade.

Kosovo Sot: What is the cooperation of the mission that you are representing with the temporary self-governing institutions? There were some estimation that this year can be the year of conflicts between UNMIK and those institutions.

Holkeri: I understand that there was always a debate over this, because our views are different. We have the resolution of the Security Council, while the local authorities has their own political objectives. I don’t want this year to be the year of conflicts. In the contrary, 2004 will be a year of partnership and a good cooperation.

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Belgrade "not obstructing Pristina dialogue"

Emphasising that Belgrade is keen to continue the dialogue, Covic accused UNMIK of failing to ensure a multi-ethnic make-up of working groups for talks on repatriation, security, energy, traffic and transport.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
January 16, 2004


BELGRADE -- Friday - The head of Belgrade's Kosovo Coordination Centre, Nebojsa Covic, today described reports that the Serbian government stalling on the resumption of dialogue with Pristina as manipulation.

He told media that someone was trying to give the impression that Belgrade was blocking Kosovo representatives coming to Serbia for talks by not recognising the UNMIK passports issued to the officials.

"Citizens of this country don't need our passports to come to Belgrade and they especially don't need UNMIK passports," said Covic.

After meeting Kosovo governor Harri Holkeri in Belgrade yesterday, Covic said that Serbian authorities were prepared to expedite the issue of travel documents to members of the autonomous Kosovo institutions in order for them to take part in the dialogue.

Emphasising that Belgrade is keen to continue the dialogue, Covic accused UNMIK of failing to ensure a multi-ethnic make-up of working groups for talks on repatriation, security, energy, traffic and transport.

He said that Serbia would not accept the principle that whenever Kosovo officials were unable to solve a problem they announced that Belgrade was responsible.

Covic, who is a deputy prime minister of Serbia, called on international officials not to spread untrue information about Belgrade's position on Kosovo.

No agreement on Serb participation in Kosovo standards implementation working groups

Serbian Government

Belgrade, Jan 15, 2004 - Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija head Nebojsa Covic and UNMIK head Harri Holkeri have failed to reach an agreement that would allow Kosovo Serbs to take part in working groups to be charged with Kosovo standards implementation.

The Serbian side has conditioned its participation on full observance of the Belgrade-UNMIK Common Document signed in November 2001 and a new meeting of the Serbia-Montenegrin-UNMIK high working group for Kosovo-Metohija, Covic told a press conference following the meeting.

He said that the transfer of UNMIK's responsibilities to local provisional institutions cannot be continued, adding that Kosovo interim institutions are frail, monoethnic and undemocratic.

Covic went on to say that the Serbian government has not accepted the Kosovo Standards document which included only a small fraction of amendments proposed by the Serbian side, adding that Kosovo Serbs expect their objections to be incorporated in the standards implementation plan.

The Coordinating Centre head also said he expects UNMIK to respond to the Serbian government's objections regarding the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue which is to be moved to expert-level working groups. Belgrade is ready for talks, he said, stressing that Pristina must send a multiethnic delegation.


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Bomb in North Kosovo explodes near a house of Serb returnees

Explosive device that is most likely to be a bomb, has exploded in the vicinity of a house renovated for Serbian returnees. Investigation at the scene of the incident ha been conducted by UNMIK and KPS, which have visited the place a couple of times. So far there have been no reports on the results of the investigation.

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RTS NS - Serbia
Kosovska Mitrovica, January 16, 2004

Explosive device that is most likely to be a bomb, has exploded in the vicinity of a house renovated for Serbian returnees. Investigation at the scene of the incident ha been conducted by UNMIK and KPS, which have visited the place a couple of times. So far there have been no reports on the results of the investigation.

Oliver Ivanovic, a member of the Kosovo parliament presiding body, is to the stances that the explosion is a result of the inadequate measures of security implemented by KFOR and UNMIK police.

Milan Ivanovic, the president of the North Kosovo Serbian national council also blames the international mission for the deteriorated security situation in Kosovo and Metohija.


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Flash News from Kosovo and Metohija

INET News 15-16 January

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Friday 16 January 2004

20:20 After a meeting today with UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri, Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren stated that it is necessary to work together on overcoming problems in the southern Serbian province so that Kosovo and Metohija can become a multiethnic society, as defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

20:00 The Serb National Council of Northern Kosovo supports the idea of forming a ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, the SNC said at a press conference in Kosovska Mitrovica.

19:40 UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri returned the draft law on the census, property and housing registration back to the Kosovo parliament after amendments to the draft law were introduced by MPs of the Serb Return Coalition (Povratak), said Return Coalition whip Dragisa Krstovic.

12:20 NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stated that 17,500 KFOR troops must remain in Kosovo and Metohija, and that the impression that the Balkans is no longer a priority for the North Atlantic alliance is wrong, reported the Pristina Albanian language daily "Zeri".

11:40 Thursday's session of the Kosovo parliament began with an incident relating to honoring those [allegedly] killed in Racak in January 1999.
Albanian MPs stood up for a minute of silence for "innocent victims killed by Serbian police" while Serb MPs belonging to the Return Coalition (Povratak) remaining sitting in their seats.

Thursday 15 January 2004

23:40 Lipljan municipal assembly vice president Borivoje Vignjevic stated that none of a group of Albanians who beat up six Serbs last Sunday has been detained, despite the fact that the victims provided the names of at least three Albanians who they claimed were the perpetrators of this criminal act. "The Serbs of Novo Selo (near Lipljan) and the Albanians from Asane have known each other for more than 30 years. The Serbs know exactly who attacked them but the UNMIK police, who are doing everything in agreement with the Kosovo police, has yet to detain anyone," said Vignjevic.

22:40 Early this morning unknown assailants threw a hand grenade into the yard of an Ashkali family in the village of Magura near Lipljan. No one was hurt but there was major material damage. UNMIK and the Kosovo Police Service conducted an investigation on the scene and further investigation is in progress.

21:40 Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Hashim Thaci accused the ruling Kosovo political party, Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, of blocking the process for the independence of the province, reported the Kosovo daily "Epoka e Re". "We have 26 MPs in the Kosovo parliament and we do not have a majority. The ruling party is blocking the process of independence," said Thaci during a visit to the PDK office in Kacanik, in the presence of one representative of OSCE and two members of the British Labour Party.

20:20 UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri advised that "the best way" for Serbs in Kosovo "to be consulted on the plan for implementation" is to participate in task groups for the implementation of the document on Standards for Kosovo. After a one hour-long meeting with Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic, Holkeri expressed his regret that the Serbs from Kosovo do not wish to participate in the drafting of that plan, UNMIK said in a statement.

19:20 Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic and UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri reached no agreement and the Serbian side requested an urgent meeting of a senior task group as defined by the Joint Document signed on November 5, 2001 by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK. Speaking at a press conference in the Serbian government building after his meeting with Holkeri, Covic said that no agreement was reached with respect to either the issue of the participation of Serb representatives in task groups for the implementation of the Standards for Kosovo and Metohija or the continuation of talks between Belgrade and Pristina.


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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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