November 10, 2003
ERP KiM Newsletter 10-11-03
Americans of Serb origin protest against announced visit of NYC Mayor to Pristina
Americans of Serb origin protest against announced visit of NYC Mayor to Kosovo
The Lignite is poisoning Kosovo
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Americans of Serb origin protest against announced visit of NYC mayor to celebration of Albania's National Day in Kosovo
18 November 2003
The Honorable Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
On behalf of the Serbian Unity Congress, I write you out of great concern regarding your proposed visit to Kosovo on November 28, 2003 to celebrate Albanian Flag Day. The details of this visit were disclosed through the online edition of the New York Post of November 10, 2003, stating that the New York City Mayor "will celebrate Albanian Flag Day with the country's (sic) president and prime minister."
Although the New York Post is not an official vehicle for your office the inaccuracy in the text asserting that Kosovo is in fact a country has sparked serious concern among not only your Serbian American constituents in New York City , but also the Serbian American diasporan community nationwide. This inevitably prompts the Serbian Unity Congress to seek clarification on this statement as well as an answer to the following two pressing questions.
First, as Albanian Flag Day is an occasion commemorating the Republic of Albania's independence in 1912, it strikes us as odd that a US official would celebrate this event in Kosovo, an entirely separate entity than that of the Republic of Albania, especially given the untenable political situation within the province? In years past, the celebration of this day in Kosovo has been perceived by non-Albanians in the province as a highly provocative rally for Kosovo's independence and the unification of Albanians under one flag, irrespective of currently delineated and internationally recognized borders in a push for a Greater Albania.
Second, during your visit to the province will time be set aside from the Flag Day festivities to visit the Serbian and non-Albanian populations and their cultural and historical sites? In the New York Post article, your spokesman Ed Skyler noted that " . . . genocide can happen anywhere if you are not vigilant" yet even under the vigilance of the international community in Kosovo, ethnically motivated repression and intimidation continue at an alarming rate with the destruction of over 120 Serbian Orthodox monasteries since the NATO brokered peace in 1999, and the ongoing relegation of non-Albanian populations to polarized enclaves where they lack freedom of movement, proper medical attention and overall access to the outside world. A rash of terrorist acts have recently been targeted against Serbian families and school children, resulting in many deaths and even warranting a special session of the UN Security Council.
Enclosed for your information is a copy of the book entitled Crucified Kosovo , a sad testimony documenting the systematic destruction of some of the most precious and sacred sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the "Resolution of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) on the Destruction of Spiritual and Cultural Property in Kosovo and Metohija", condemning the acts of violence and vandalism perpetrated against religious and cultural heritage sites.
In light of the above, we kindly ask you to reconsider your participation in the celebration of Albanian Flag Day in Kosovo. The potential political consequences of being misperceived by the local population as representing official US foreign policy can contribute to unearthing the small amount of progress already achieved.
As the mayor of so great an international city as that of New York , whose very character is defined by its diversity, we know that you understand well the importance of equally serving all of your constituents.
Nenad Vukicevic, President
Steven Cupic, Interim Director
Cc: Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General, World Conference on Religions and Peace
We are enclosing a related Article from the Online edition fo the New York Post:
New York Post
Bloomberg and Mom Plan Dash to Israel, kosovo
November 10, 2003 -- Mayor Bloomberg is planning a whistle-stop, two-day visit to Israel and Kosovo later this month - in part to fulfill along-standing promise to take his 94-year-old mother to Jerusalem .
Hizzoner will jet to Tel Aviv with his elderly mom, Charlotte, on Nov. 23 and then drive to the Holy City , were he plans to make a dedication at the Hadassah Hospital in her honor.
The pair will then whiz to Kosovo's capital, Pristina, where Bloomberg will celebrate Albanian Flag Day with the country's president and prime minister.
"It's an opportunity to honor the contribution that the Albanian community makes in New York City and to remind people that genocide can happen anywhere if you are not vigilant," said the mayor's spokesman, Ed Skyler.
Bloomberg will also be accompanied by Rep. John Sweeney (R-Saratoga Springs) on the trip. He plans to have dinner with troops at Kosovo's U.S. military headquarters, Camp Bondsteel .
The tour will be the mayor's fifth official overseas trip and his second to Israel this year.
Two Albanians jailed for blast that killed two NATO soldiers
Agence France Presse
SKOPJE, Nov 19 (AFP) - Two ethnic Albanians from Macedonia were sentenced to 10 years in prison for planting a bomb that killed three people, among them two NATO soldiers, in March, MIA news agency reported Wednesday.
A court in the northern town Kumanovo found Samet Lutvi and Sulejman Sulejmani, two ethnic Albanians from Macedonia, guilty of committing the crime which also wounded another person.
The two had planted an anti-tank mine near the village Sopot, north of Skopje, on March 4.
Two Polish soldiers serving with NATO troops in Macedonia, Pjotr Nikolowsky and Pavel Eginsky, and Macedonian Svetislav Kiprijanovski were killed in the blast, while a woman translator was wounded, when their vehicle drove over the mine.
Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic of some two million people, has lived in an uneasy peace since a 2001 uprising by ethnic Albanian guerrillas against the central government demanding more civil and political rights.
The fighting ended after seven months with a peace deal brokered by the international community.
The European Union took over security in Macedonia on March 31, succeeding a NATO operation aimed at restoring peace and security in the country.
We should ask for UN Stance
Danas, Belgrade Daily
Belgrade, 20 Nov (Danas) – Belgrade should ask for an official answer from the chief of UNMIK and the Security Council, regarding the decision of the interim Kosovo Assembly to set an assembly procedure to discuss the initiative of the National Movement Of Kosovo for unification of the province with Albania.
This initiative reveals the Albanian and will reveal the International community's position, which community has to show what really thinks, deems Momcilo Trajkovic, the president of the Serbian Resistant Movement.
Trajkovic evaluates that before the Mission "are represented concepts of the Albanian representatives and as soon as they go to procedure, it means that they are legitimate".
"Now we will see how the international community looks at them, because nonstop it has to provide information what happens in Kosovo and Metohija. Some of the answers that it has been giving so far encourage us, because they have been showing us that the international community does not support the idea for an independent Kosovo. We expect that the international community would give us a similar answer", stated Momcilo Trajkovic for "Danas", and assessed that "The request unification between Kosovo and Albania , because of the complexity of the Kosovo issue, is not realistic".
Interview published in the Belgrade daily POLITIKA with Carlo Civiletti, ambassador and chief of the mission of the Council of Europe, for the decentralization in Kosovo and Metohija.
Politika, Belgrade daily
The Lignite is Poisoning Kosovo
At the lignite power plant Kosovo Alpha, emissions, dirt and accidents are everyday occurrences. Habib Sekiraqa works in Hell. Kosovo's ancient coal power plant is one of the world's most filthy workplaces.
The stink from the furnaces and the yellow-brown smoke covers the entire plain outside Pristina, the provincial capital. From the smokestacks the ashes are spread by the wind to an powder layer, covering trees and bushes.
Kosovo is mostly known for war, atrocities and ethnic cleansing. Despite, lignite is the most visible sign of the misery. And a whole lot of what is invisible.
"The employees have an average life expectancy of 47 years compared with 65 years for the rest of Kosovo. The smokestacks emit 60 tons of ashes and other particles per hour. In Sweden the limit value is 40 tons - a year," tells Major Bengt Öst from the Swedish peace-keeping contingent.
Öst has a nightmarish task. If something happens to the two gigantic lignite power plants each side of the town of Obilic, he's the main responsible for the Swedish contingent's security and rescue efforts.
Concerning Kosovo Alpha, the oldest plant, it is more a question when something happens than if.
The lignite plant is built in the early 50ies and hasn't roughly speaking been renovated since. Emissions, dirt and accidents are daily occurrences.
"There are daily fires at the plant, larger and small," states Öst.
The interior of the plant is as taken from an exaggerated science-fiction movie about the death of civilisation. Amongst fragile pipes and cables stands ancient Soviet-built turbines and furnaces, covered with dust.
A couple of stories above, the layer of dust is several centimeters thick.
"Everything is black. We have no equipment, and that is difficult circumstances to work under," says machine mechanic Habib Sekiraqa and shows how he has mended a worn-down turbine wheel using some pieces of sheet metal. Proper spare parts are no longer produced.
In practically any other country, the power plant would have been closed long time ago. The emission of green house gasses from Kosovo Alpha equals one-sixth of the combined emissions of Germany.
The system producing hydrogen to cool down the steam from the turbines is not equipped with automatic safety valves. In case of an explosion, it could create a crater a kilometer wide, corresponding to the impact of a medium size meteor. There are just a few hundred meters to the centre of Obilic, populated by 20,000, and a few kilometers to Pristina.
The power plant is a necessity because of the electricity situation in the backward Kosovo. Every time it is necessary to interrupt the supply of electricity, public disturbances and protests is the result despite the inhabitants being used to it. The 500,000 inhabitants of Pristina has no electricity every third day.
To this comes that the energy company KEK is one of the biggest employers, with 1,000 workers on the Alpha-plant itself. And they would rather close their eyes to the danger than lose their job.
"There's nothing dangerous here," says Habib Sekiraqa.
Thursday 20 November 2003
21:40 Several thousand citizens of Northern Kosovska Mitrovica participating in a protest meeting organized by the Serbian National Council demanded the return of the Serbian army and police to Kosovo.
12:00 Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church taking part in the meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops and members of the Serbian government held a meeting last night in Belgrade. Serbian premier Zoran Zivkovic, who hosted a working dinner, expressed gratitude to Serbian Patriarch Pavel and the members of the Holy Synod at home and abroad who have agreed to discuss their joint responsibility for the future of the Serbian people.
Wednesday 19 November 2003
20:40 The security situation in Kosovo and Metohija has improved with each passing year and the people who live there need to acknowledge that, assessed UNMIK police spokesman Derek Chappell.
20:20 UNMIK chief Harri Hokeri announced that all municipalities in Kosovo are functioning and the UN mission has transferred responsibilities to the municipalities and withdrawn from executive functions, however, taking into account its mandate from the Council of Europe, it is still supervising and assisting in the consolidation of local institutions, advised UNMIK.
20:00 Kosovo government officials believe that circumstances in Serbia after the failure of presidential elections on Sunday will have a direct effect on the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina initiated in Vienna. Mimoza Kusari, spokeswoman of premier Rajram Rexhepi, stated today that after the unsuccessful Serbian elections it is expected that talks begun in Vienna will be postponed.
19:40 The EU and the USA expressed full support for the policy of the UN and the Contact Group requiring the implementation of democratic standards and verification whether significant progress has been achieved prior to the possible initiation of talks on the final status of the province in 2005.
12:00 UNMIK spokeswoman in Pristina Isabella Karlowicz denied claims by the Return Coalition (Povratak) at a press conference in Kosovska Mitrovica that Stanoje and Novica Przic, suspects in the murder of 18 year-old Danijel Milosevic, have been released.
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