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ERP KiM Newsletter 04-03-04                        March 04, 2004

Serbian Orthodox Church supports PM Kostunica's program on Kosovo-Metohija

Eventual independence of Kosovo Province would jeopardize the fragile balance in the Balkans and create a lasting focus of Serb-Albanian conflict

Substantial autonomy of Kosovo province within Serbia and the SCG Union with a two-entity (cantonal) system only reflects the existing situation in the Province in which normal functioning of the Serb community in Albanian dominated areas is simply impossible due to systematic ethnic discrimination and enforced Albanization in all spheres of everyday life. The only way for Serbs to survive as an ethnic community and protect its cultural and historical traditions is to be granted internal cultural and individual autonomy with a special status for the major patrimonial sites. Serbs have legitimate right to retain their links with institutions of Republic of Serbia, particularly in the fields of education, health and cultural protection which are of vital importance for the preservation of Serb national, cultural and Christian identity in a society dominated by Albanian Muslims. Either territorial division of Kosovo or its secession from Serbia will inevitably create serious precedents with unforeseeable negative consequences for the entire Balkans.

CONTENTS:

Support for position of Serbian PM on Kosovo and Metohija
Especially encouraging is the fact that the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is mentioned as a top priority task of the new government, which attests to a change in the past course according to which the issue of the southern Serbian province was unjustly posed. The Church therefore justifiably expects that Kosovo and Metohija will become one of the priorities of our statesmanship.

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

Bishop Artemije resigns as Serb National Council president
More recently there has been an increasing number of instances in which individual members of the SNC KIM, without our knowledge or consultation with us in the capacity of President, have given statements on behalf of the SNC KIM which are not supported by either the SNC KIM, for these statements were not approved at regular sessions of the SNC KIM, or by us as its President, as we have been neither acquainted with nor consulted on these statements previously.

Covic: Entities and cantons not the same thing
"We must work out this concept together, the extent to which it can be implemented with positive results and whether it is realistic," said Covic at a press conference. He said that he had spoken with Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, who proposed the idea of entities or cantonization in an address before the Serbian parliament, several times regarding the subject and that there were no disagreements between them.

Oliver Ivanovic: Positive that new Government considers Kosovo important
"The new government must create unity with the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija because that is the only way of expressing the interests of the Serbian national being. The new government must show the world that Serbia will not agree with the Albanian attempts to form an independent state of Kosovo," concluded Milan Ivanovic.

UNMIK: Kosovo status will be decided by the UN Security Council
Introductory text

Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to continue on March 4
The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is one of the eight standards set by the international community that have to be fulfilled so that the province's final status could be resolved. The dialogue was launched in Vienna on Oct 14, 2003 with the support of the United Nations, the European Union and the Contact Group.

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Suport for position of Serbian PM on Kosovo and Metohija

Especially encouraging is the fact that the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is mentioned as a top priority task of the new government, which attests to a change in the past course according to which the issue of the southern Serbian province was unjustly posed. The Church therefore justifiably expects that Kosovo and Metohija will become one of the priorities of our statesmanship.

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ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, March 3, 2004

Gracanica Monastery, the seat of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren (14th century)
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija wishes to express its wholehearted support for the position on Kosovo and Metohija presented by the prime minister of the new Serbian government, Dr. Vojislav Kostunica, during his address to the Serbian parliament yesterday.

The position of the Serbian Orthodox Church has always been that the issue of the status of Kosovo and Metohija cannot be resolved without Serbia, of which the Province is an integral and inalienable part. Any form of imposed solution for Kosovo by certain international circles, blackmail and pressure will only destabilize the complex political situation in the country and region, and lead to undesirable consequences.

Especially encouraging is the fact that the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is mentioned as a top priority task of the new government, which attests to a change in the past course according to which the issue of the southern Serbian province was unjustly posed. The Church therefore justifiably expects that Kosovo and Metohija will become one of the priorities of our statesmanship.

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija strongly supports the position that the solution for Kosovo and Metohija must be sought within the framework of substantial autonomy according to which UN Security Council Resolution 1244 ensures self-administration of Kosovo and Metohija with respect to Serbia. The idea of cantonization or the internal autonomy of the Serb community within the framework of Kosovo and Metohija as an integral part of Serbia, is an idea that the Diocese has for years considered to be the optimal solution and perhaps the only solution that can provide for a peaceful life and coexistence of all national communities.

Of course, the idea of the independence or so-called conditional independence of Kosovo and Metohija is not only an unacceptable solution that would finish the process of ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Province but would also lead to the destabilization of the entire region and the retailoring of state borders, which is contrary to the processes of European integration. Therefore, the Diocese wholeheartedly welcomes the decisive position of Dr. Kostunica "that for Serbia the word 'status' with respect to Kosovo and Metohija can mean many things but under no circumstances can it mean independence".

The Diocese supports the process of improvement in living standards for all communities in the Province but it insists that the implementation of standards must take into account the positions of the Serb side, which have thus far been ignored. As well, fulfillment of standards must not be interpreted as the key to the secession of the Province. Standards belong to the sphere of general human rights and the democratization of society, while the issue of status can be resolved only with full respect for international law and all other relevant factors which prohibit the retailoring of borders through unilateral decisions and on the basis of rule by decree.

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Bishop' Artemije's view of Kosovo's substantial autonomy within Serbia and SCG Union

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

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ERPKIM Info-Service
Gracanica, October 31, 2003

Bishop Artemije's view of Kosovo's two-entity asymetrical and substantial autonomy within Serbia and the SCG Union (from thre presentation and Western Policy Center, Washington D.C. January 2004)
The most viable and acceptable final solution for Kosovo and Metohija is according to my opinion a substantial autonomy of Kosovo within Serbia and the State Union of Serbia-Montenegro, with special focusing on improvement of human rights, economy and other standards which are essential for integration of the entire region into EU structures. This scenario does not mean return to the pre 1999 situation  but is also opposed to independence of Kosovo which would be tailored according to the will of present Kosovo Albanian leaders.

That is why it is necessary to intensify activities in order to revert the political processes in Kosovo as soon as possible within the framework of Resolution 1244 which defines the mandate and priorities for the UN Mission. However, this does not mean continuation of the present UNMIK policy of uncontrolled transfer of all authorities to local provisional (Albanian dominated) Kosovo institutions, but the building of truly multiethnic institutions which would at the same time guarantee the sovereignty of Serbia-Montenegro and enable all Kosovo communities 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 the collective rights of the Serbs, which presupposes 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 UN SC Resolution 1244. In practical terms this means decentralization of the Province which will 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 protection of cultural and historical 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 (S-M) which would be mutually agreed upon through free dialogue. Local Kosovo institutions on the Kosovo wide level would be multiethnic and would coordinate activities between two autonomous entities. They would primarily work on resolving the local problems concerning the common interest of all 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 both Serbian and State union institutions. The increased presence of minority representatives in the Parliament of Serbia would only further facilitate strengthening of multiethnicity in the country which despite the recent wars still remains the most multiethnic state on the territory of former Yugoslavia.
This asymmetrical principle of two-tier autonomy in Kosovo would create a mechanism for solving the complex problems in the Province in a way that would protect the essential interests of all communities. The Serbs and other Serb oriented communities would not find themselves in a foreign and enemy land separated from their homeland; and the Albanians would not be under the tutorship of Belgrade or under any form of repression. In accordance with a possible Belgrade-Tirana agreement Kosovo Albanians could enjoy higher level of mutual links with Albania, like Hungarians in Vojvodina (including the parallel citizenship if necessary). The Province would not be divided, nor there would be no changes of the internationally recognized borders of Serbia-Montenegro, which most Balkan states oppose. Kosovo as a self-governing autonomous region of Serbia would become rather a link between Serbia, Albania and Macedonia and not a source of new conflicts.

Of course, with the development of the economy and gradual integration of the western Balkans within the EU framework, more flexible inter-entity ties and bridges would be sought with building of more integrated provincial institutions. That would directly depend on progress in the field of human rights and security. The basic thing is for the rights of all citizens and ethnic communities to be adequately protected, since that is also the main condition for integration into European structures. Any other solution, taking into account only the interests of one community and imposing the will of the majority on non-majority communities in the Province, would create the potential for a new armed conflict in the near or not so near future. It is hardly necessary to mention how much more difficult a unilateral solution would make the integration of the whole region in European structures.

Apart from the economy, joint cooperation of Kosovo with the rest of Serbia would be also developed especially in the battle against terrorism, organized crime and ethnic violence. With the help of KFOR, police and investigative teams from Europe and the United States, exchange of information and joint actions which transcend existing state or provincial borders, conditions will be created for a successful battle against criminal activity which is threatening to send the entire region back to the Dark Ages. The Balkans with “soft borders” would create conditions for new local integration and development of ties, finally bringing an end to the unhealthy process of political and territorial disintegration which began in the early 1990s. The existence of a rather large Muslim community within the borders of multiethnic Serbia would be the best guarantee against creating of a Muslim state which can easily become a prey of terrorists. In a multi-religious society in which all religions are given the fair treatment and status, moderate Muslim leaders will be in much better position to defend their community against Wahabi influences, which would hardly be possible in the case of independent and majority Muslim Kosovo state.

If the process of the institutionalization is redefined on the above mentioned bases, realistic conditions would be created for the return of the displaced Serb and non-Serb population (the Goranci, Roma and Bosniaks), and improvement of the security situation, contributing to the return of all displaced persons and solving of outstanding property and legal issues in accordance with European standards.

This scenario, no matter how much it is unacceptable to Kosovo Albanian nationalists and Mafiosi, is essentially in the best interests of the Kosovo Albanian community in general. Creating such a modus vivendi between Kosovo and central Serbia would have to be based on intensive work on interethnic reconciliation which primarily means bringing to justice all those who committed war and post-war crimes on all sides, and finding out the truth about the missing persons in all communities. It would be absolutely unrealistic to expect a compromise when on one hand the entire Serb leadership from the end of nineties is in the Hague while Kosovo Albanian political scene is still dominated by former KLA warlords. This scenario consequently means also creating of a new political elite with broader visions and more flexible relation to the reality in the region.

For the international community that would be also the most acceptable solution because only a moderate NATO presence in the Province would be necessary and with the integration of Serbia-Montenegro in NATO structures, the entire security framework would be much strengthened. Although the military presence of the U.S. soldiers in Kosovo would be of importance as a guarantor of peace and stability, the present number of troops could be substantially reduced because other KFOR contingents and the multiethnic army of the State Union would be able to take over an important amount of obligations, particularly in securing the international borders and protection of patrimonial sites, which is particularly mentioned in the UNSCR 1244.
Last but not least, such a settlement of Kosovo’s status would not set a negative precedent for other ethnic communities throughout Europe which might try to exercise their right of self-determination to the detriment of sovereignty of their states. The firm position would be promoted that the only way out from the Balkan quagmire is not in further atomization of the Balkans and creation of unstable, ethnically and religiously pure banana republics but in economically and politically stable multiethnic countries which will be able to follow the process of EU integration.


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Bishop Artemije resigns as SNC President

More recently there has been an increasing number of instances in which individual members of the SNC KIM, without my knowledge or consultation with me in the capacity of President, have given statements on behalf of the SNC KIM which are not supported by either the SNC KIM, for these statements were not approved at regular sessions of the SNC KIM, or by me as its President, as I have been neither acquainted with nor consulted on these statements previously.

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TNo. 62
Prizren-Gracanica, March 2, 2004

To the President of the Executive Council of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, Mr. Dragan Velic
GRACANICA

Sir:

For the past four and a half years I have led the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija after being elected unanimously at the founding assembly in October 1999.

During this time I have sought to work in accordance with the SNC KIM statutes for the good of our Serb people throughout Kosovo and Metohija to the best of my knowledge and ability under conditions and circumstances of which all of us are aware.

Bishop Artemije resigns his post in Serbian National Council of Kosovo-Metohija

More recently there has been an increasing number of instances in which individual members of the SNC KIM, without my knowledge or consultation with me in the capacity of President, have given statements on behalf of the SNC KIM which are not supported by either the SNC KIM, for these statements were not approved at regular sessions of the SNC KIM, or by me as its President, as I have been neither acquainted with nor consulted on these statements previously.

For these reasons, I, as the Bishop of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, am no longer able to remain in the position of President of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, and hereby submit my irrevocable resignation to this position and title.

In the hope that you will elect a new President at the first subsequent session of the SNC KIM, and that the SNC KIM will continue to work for the good of the Serb people of Kosovo and Metohija, as it has done in the past, I wish the SNC KIM much success in its future endeavors.

On my part, I will continue to do everything possible within my power (as I have done in the past) for the good and the survival of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, and that Kosovo and Metohija may remain a part of the state of Serbia, as its legitimate, integral and inalienable part. May God help us all in our efforts!

With deep respect

Bishop of Raska-Prizren and
Kosovo-Metohija
+ARTEMIJE (signature)


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Covic: Entities and cantons not the same thing

"We must work out this concept together, the extent to which it can be implemented with positive results and whether it is realistic," said Covic at a press conference. He said that he had spoken with Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, who proposed the idea of entities or cantonization in an address before the Serbian parliament, several times regarding the subject and that there were no disagreements between them.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
March 3, 2004

Dr. Nebojsa Covic

BELGRADE - Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic welcomed the inclusion of problems in that province among the top priorities of the new Serbian Government and support for the idea of entities, emphasizing that they are not the same thing as cantons.

"We must work out this concept together, the extent to which it can be implemented with positive results and whether it is realistic," said Covic at a press conference. He said that he had spoken with Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, who proposed the idea of entities or cantonization in an address before the Serbian parliament, several times regarding the subject and that there were no disagreements between them.

"The talks will continue. If there are disagreements we will discuss them and leave room for agreement or disagreement. These talks will determine my further engagement" on resolving the problem of Kosovo, said Covic.

"Entities and cantons don't go together. The principle that the leopard cannot change his spots has not yielded success anywhere in the Balkans. There is a difference between what politicians tell their constituents and what actually happens but the difference cannot be as different as Earth and Mars," said Covic.

He noted that the concept off forming entities in Kosovo is included in the state union of Serbia-Montenegro's plan for the implementation of Resolution 1244 in Kosovo in 2001.

"We are in favor of a unified Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia. We do not want to see the division of Kosovo. Entities would serve the purpose of protecting all ethnic communities, especially the Serb and other non-Albanian communities," said Covic.

"Serbia must know what she wants and say it clearly and unambiguously," said Covic, emphasizing that the Coordinating Center has been successful in its efforts in Kosovo and that "the independence of Kosovo was prevented from occurring three times so far: in 2001, in 2002 and at the beginning of 2003."
Entities in Kosovo, according to Covic would be areas where the majority, whether Serbs, Albanians or non-Albanians. These areas would not be defined solely on the basis of the past four years but also on the pre-existing situation.
Asked whether there are any plans for so-called humanitarian relocation of the population from some parts of Kosovo to others, Covic said that as far as he knew such plans do not presently exist but that does not mean they will not be introduced.


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Oliver Ivanovic: Positive that new government considers Kosovo important

"The new government must create unity with the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija because that is the only way of expressing the interests of the Serbian national being. The new government must show the world that Serbia will not agree with the Albanian attempts to form an independent state of Kosovo," concluded Milan Ivanovic.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
March 3, 2004

Oliver Ivanovic, POVRATAK Coalition member

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA - Kosovo parliament deputy speaker Oliver Ivanovic assessed as positive that the problem of Kosovo and Metohija has an important place in the program of the new Serbian Government.

"I think that increased attention by the Serbian Government, as well as by the Council of Ministers of the state union of Serbia-Montenegro, will have a huge significance for the position of Serbs in the province," Ivanovic said.

In his address to the Serbian parliament, Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica advocated the cantonization of Kosovo and Metohija or its division into entities.

In Ivanovic's opinion presenting "any sort of solution at this moment is not expedient because ready solutions should not be put forward until the situation on the ground is examined and until we see what kind of support we will get from the entire international community".

"Any solution that Serbia sees for Kosovo and Metohija must be supported by the international community or it will be difficult to realize," underscored Ivanovic.

The president of the Serbian National Council of Northern Kosovo Milan Ivanovic said that "the entity platform or cantonization of Kosovo is the only real solution and it reflects the real interests not only of Serbs but also of Albanians in Kosovo".

Ivanovic said that the SNC expects Kostunica to provide a new strategy for Kosovo and Metohija that will decisively represent national and state interests.

"The new government must create unity with the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija because that is the only way of expressing the interests of the Serbian national being. The new government must show the world that Serbia will not agree with the Albanian attempts to form an independent state of Kosovo," concluded Milan Ivanovic.

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UNMIK: Kosovo status will be decided by UN Security Council

"I cannot comment on this position but from our perspective any decision on the final status of Kosovo can only be made by the UN Security Council," said Karlowitz at a Pristina press conference.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
March 3, 2004

PRISTINA - UNMIK spokeswoman Isabella Karlowitz said today that the status of Kosovo will be decided by the UN Security Council.

Karlowitz said this in response to the proposal of Serbian premier Vojislav Kostunica for the forming of entities or cantonization of Kosovo.

"I cannot comment on this position but from our perspective any decision on the final status of Kosovo can only be made by the UN Security Council," said Karlowitz at a Pristina press conference.

Kosovo government spokeswoman Mimoza Kusari said Kostunica's statement comes as no surprise, taking into account his "ultranationalist public statements during the war in Kosovo".
"Mr. Kostunica should be aware that the time of cantonization and segregation on an ethnic or other basis is over. The Kosovo government is doing everything it can to continue the integration of all ethnic groups living in Kosovo and its results in this respect are not negligible," said Kusari.

She added "that results would be even better if we did not have combative and destructive and other varieties of harmful statements coming from Belgrade, such as the most recent statements of Mr. Kostunica," said the Kosovo government spokeswoman.


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Belgrade, Pristina dialogue to continue on March 4

The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is one of the eight standards set by the international community that have to be fulfilled so that the province's final status could be resolved. The dialogue was launched in Vienna on Oct 14, 2003 with the support of the United Nations, the European Union and the Contact Group.

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http://www.serbia.sr.gov.yu/news/2004-03/03/333328.html

Serbian Government

Belgrade, Pristina, March 3, 2004 - The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue will continue on March 4, when representatives of the working groups for energy will meet in Pristina.

The Pristina working group for energy will be chaired by UNMIK official Jolly Dickson, and will include Pranver Dobrun, Ali Hamiti, Ismet Suska and member of Kosovo Assembly Presidency Oliver Ivanovic.

The Belgrade working group for energy will be chaired by Serbian Assistant Minister of Energy and Mining Ljiljana Hadzibabic, and will include experts from the Electric Power Industry of Serbia, the Ministry of Energy and Mining and the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija.

The initiation of talks of the working groups for missing persons in Kosovo-Metohija is slated for March 9, which will be chaired by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Chairman of the Pristina working group for missing persons will be UNMIK Missing Persons Unit Chief Jose Baraybar. The group will include Ragip Zekoli, Hamit Berisa, Arsim Grdzeliu, Habit Hjaredini and Serbian Co Minister in the Kosovo Assembly Milorad Todorovic.

The Belgrade working group for missing persons will be led by head of the Department for the Missing and Kidnapped Persons of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Svetislav Djurdjevic.

The working groups for the return of displaced persons and for the transport and telecommunications will launch talks in due course.

The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is one of the eight standards set by the international community that have to be fulfilled so that the province's final status could be resolved. The dialogue was launched in Vienna on Oct 14, 2003 with the support of the United Nations, the European Union and the Contact Group.


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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.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with www.serbian-translation.com as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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The views expressed by the authors of newspaper articles or other texts which are not official communiqués or news reports by the Diocese are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Additional information on our Diocese and the life of the Kosovo Serb Community may be found at: http://www.kosovo.net

Copyright 2004, ERP KIM Info-Service


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