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March 06, 2004

ERP KiM Newsletter 06-03-04

Bishop Artemije: Serbs will not sign their own death sentence

In response to Mr. Fieschi's view that the situation for the Serbs will be much worse if they do not participate in the working groups for implementation of standards, the Bishop replied: "No, I disagree. It is better not to participate. It's as if someone condemned me to death although I have done nothing wrong, and asked me to sign my own death sentence. If I sign I really become guilty; if I don't sign it a crime will be committed against me. The international community really can pursue a policy that will result in the disappearance of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija; however, it cannot win the assent of the Serbs themselves for such a policy. This is the reason why we no longer wish to participate in the work of the working groups for standards." The Bishop added that he understands that the international community is, quite simply, afraid of the Albanians, and that is why it does not dare to capture the perpetrators of crimes against Serbs. "If you capture the murderers of the Serbs in Staro Gracko, you will have all of Pristina on its feet at protest rally. The international community, consequently, does not dare do anything at all," concluded Bishop Artemije at the end of the meeting.

Bishop Artemije meets with OSCE head of mission in Kosovo and Metohija,
Mr. Paschal Fieschi, in Gracanica Monastery

ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, March 5, 2004

Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija received the head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission in Kosovo, Mr. Paschal Fieschi, in the bishop's residence of Gracanica Monastery to exchange views on the present situation in Kosovo and Metohija.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Fieschi asked Bishop Artemije to explain his withdrawal from the position of president of the Serbian National Council, stating that, in his opinion, without him the SNC could not be what it has been in the past.

The Bishop replied that the explanation is in the official statement issued by the ERP KIM Info Service, that is, that individual members have recently begun to present their own views on behalf of the SNC without any consultations with its president and disregarding the joint meetings where all these views were previously discussed.

Standards must be clearly measurable

Mr. Fieschi then informed the Bishop of the beginning of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina through the dialogue of the working group on energy, as well as that a meeting of the working group on missing persons will also soon be held, in addition to meeting of the working groups for communications and transportation, and returns. These four working groups are comprised of teams concerned with technical issues pertinent for everyday living. However, Serbs are not participating and giving their contribution in other groups for implementation of standards which, in the opinion of Mr. Fieschi, they should be doing. Finally, he also expressed the belief that things are the way they are due to the lack of a government in Serbia.

Bishop Artemije noted that the standards were adopted during the previous Serbian Government, and that this is not the reason for the Serbs' refusal to participate. "The standards are not the first document relating to Kosovo," the Bishop explained. "There have been many other documents adopted but not implemented. The Standards for Kosovo is just another wish list!" emphasized Bishop Artemije. He pointed out that nothing in this document is clearly defined, stating that as far as the issue of returns is concerned, for example, Serbs cannot be satisfied if the percentage of returns is less than 75%, while the bare minimum would be at least 50%. "According to the Standards for Kosovo in its present form, someone is free to state that Serbs have returned to Kosovo if 10 Serbs return to the city that once had a Serb population of 40,000. Serbs cannot accept this." The Bishop also expressed his strong disagreement that the text of the Standards for Kosovo, unlike UN Security Council 1244, does not anywhere mention the fact that Kosovo is an integral part of the Republic of Serbia and the state union of Serbia-Montenegro.

Mr. Fieschi explained that the standards were drafted under UN control and that the preamble mentions Resolution 1244. The standards are, firstly, a plan for implementation which foresees concrete actions that need to be done in order to achieve what is listed in the standards.

Bishop Artemije reminded Mr. Fieschi that the Serbs have already been tricked several times by the international community. "In order to ensure Serb participation in local elections in 2002, Mr. Steiner promised to carry out decentralizations. The elections passed and decentralization did not occur. The Serbs became a decoration of the Kosovo parliament. Not one of their initiatives was included on the agenda, let alone discussed and adopted. On the other hand, many laws were passed against the interests of the Serb community." The Bishop again reiterated that there are no criteria for measurement included in the Standards for Kosovo.

Mr. Fieschi replied that the United Nations in New York will assess to what degree standards have been met, taking into account the whole picture, as well as the measures that need to be carried out by local authorities. That assessment, promised Fieschi, will not be based on words but on facts. "You are completely correct with regard to the Kosovo parliament, and the international community will have to apply pressure to change something there." With regard to the failure of the plan for decentralization, the OSCE mission head cited the great opposition of the Albanian community; despite this, in some municipalities with a great Albanian majority a de facto decentralization was carried out. He emphasized that the international community had not completely given up on the matter.

Where in Kosovo and Metohija did Javier Solana see "progress"?

Bishop Artemije then asked Mr. Fieschi his view on the recent statement of the EU high representative for foreign policy and security, Mr. Javier Solana, that "wherever I went in Kosovo, I saw progress". "Where is this progress? Some 1,300 Serbs have been killed and none of the perpetrators arrested; 130 churches and monasteries have been destroyed and not one has been restored; the roads are unsafe for Serbs traveling on them; 250,000 Serbs have been expelled and five years later are still unable to return to their homes. Who can convince the Serbs, as long as all these perpetrators are still free, that they will not be tricked again by participating in the work on the Standards? For all of these reasons, the Serb community no longer has confidence in the international community. We don't want to arrange our own funeral," concluded Bishop Artemije.

In response to Mr. Fieschi's view that the situation for the Serbs will be much worse if they do not participate in the working groups for implementation of standards, the Bishop replied: "No, I disagree. It is better not to participate. It's as if someone condemned me to death although I have done nothing wrong, and asked me to sign my own death sentence. If I sign I really become guilty; if I don't sign it a crime will be committed against me. The international community really can pursue a policy that will result in the disappearance of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija; however, it cannot win the assent of the Serbs themselves for such a policy. This is the reason why we no longer wish to participate in the work of the working groups for standards." The Bishop added that he understands that the international community is, quite simply, afraid of the Albanians, and that is why it does not dare to capture the perpetrators of crimes against Serbs. "If you capture the murderers of the Serbs in Staro Gracko, you will have all of Pristina on its feet at protest rally. The international community, consequently, does not dare do anything at all," concluded Bishop Artemije at the end of the meeting.


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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

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