Fr. Sava (Janjic) on the upcoming municipal elections in Kosovo and Metohija
KOSOVO INSTITUTIONS - A FAÇADE OF FALSE DEMOCRACY
Serbs demand that Kosovo institutions be returned within framework of UN Resolution 1244
Even the Serb parliamentary deputies lack freedom of movement and travel by armored police vehicles to parliamentary sessions. Randjel Nojkic, a member of the Return Coalition, was deeply insulted when the chairman of the transportation committee, a Kosovo Albanian, ejected him from a meeting because he complained that materials in Serbian had not been prepared for the Serb deputies. Whenever international representatives are not supervising parliamentary committee meetings, the Albanians treat the Serbs with scorn and refuse to allow them to freely express their opinions, the Serb representatives complain.
The Albanians deputies
regularly protest whenever their Serb colleagues use the traditional
name of the Province - Kosovo and Metohija. They frequently make deafening
noise at the mention of the word Metohija even though the Serbs are
forced to tolerate a whole series of new geographical names for towns
and streets from which every association with centuries-old Serbian
culture and history has been erased. For example, a town in the north
of the Province, Leposavic, which is inhabited exclusively by Serbs,
is referred to by Albanian politicians and media as Albanik. Kamenica
has become Dardana, Obilic – Kastriot, Glogovac – Drenas,
Podujevo – Besijana, Istok – Burim and Suva Reka –
Teranda. Topographic names originating in the 12th century which survived
five centuries of Ottoman rule are disappearing overnight in a process
of aggressive Albanization of the Province.
Serb representatives – decorations of nonexistent multiethnicity
The situation is equally bad at the level of the local municipal administration. The Serbs who have been appointed members of municipal assemblies by the head of the UN Mission after local elections three years ago serve as decorations of a non-existent multiethnicity, claim Kosovo leaders. UNMIK representatives regularly boast that Serbs participate in local administration in normal fashion but this claim in the majority of cases is far from the truth. Actually, the great majority Serbs from the enclaves do not even have free access to the administration in towns which are under Albanian control because the UN Mission and KFOR have not yet created basic conditions for freedom of movement and safe access to public institutions. Because of this Serbs asked no less than two years ago for local offices in municipalities where they live where they could obtain necessary documents and identity cards. However, these offices quickly became symbolic branch offices for providing social services to the so-called minorities. Serbs recently proposed the decentralization of large municipalities (Pristina municipality alone has a population of half a million) in order to provide easier access to the administration for the at-risk population, especially the Serbs. However UNMIK again has failed to show readiness to do anything in this respect and persistently continues to reject the Serb decentralization program. Kosovo Serbs see this inflexible position as the chief obstacle to participation in the upcoming elections.
The recent attack
by a Kosovo Albanian mob on Serb pensioners who were brought by UN police
to the city of Pec to regulate their pensions demonstrates very clearly
it is wrong to insist on Serbs receiving their administrative services
in Albanian areas where there is no basic security and freedom of movement.
Persistently bringing Serbs into environments dominated by enmity and
ethnic discrimination, in the opinion of many Serbs, especially the
elderly, is immoral and conducting such live experiments leads only
to new incidents and a deterioration of already poor interethnic relations.
This is another reason why Serbs need their own administration in areas
where they live which would will link Serb inhabited areas at the regional
and Kosovo levels and enable the long term survival of the Serb community
and the preservation of its language, culture, language and identity.
Abuse of institutions for ethnic Albanian agenda
Kosovo Serbs are
embittered by the behavior of the Kosovo Government and its representatives.
Prime Minister Rexhepi and President Rugova, the official representatives
of all Kosovo and Metohija citizens, publicly act as propagators of
exclusively Albanian interests, especially in front of foreign officials,
and actively use so-called multiethnic institutions to openly lobby
for Kosovo independence. Of course, every citizen has the right to freely
express his or her views but the highest public officials cannot flagrantly
abuse their terms in office to the detriment of the interests of one
part of Kosovo's citizens. Such behavior on the part of leading Albanian
politicians is increasingly convincing the Serbs that institutions are
being used as a springboard for the creation of a monoethnic Albanian
society which is in complete contradiction with UN Resolution 1244 and
the European integration processes. While it is true that in the last
few months there have been changes in the rhetorics as a rule words
are not followed by concrete deeds and the new rhetorics serves more
as a means of generating a false image of the democratic process in
Kosovo and Metohija before the Western media. Although the Kosovo Government
regularly condemns every act of violence against Serbs, Albanian political
leaders through their followers at the local level continue incite violence
and obstruct police investigations by intimidating witnesses. Serb deputies
in the Kosovo Parliament have already pointed out the fact that many
former members of the KLA have entrenched themselves in the new Kosovo
institutions and are using them as a cover for continuing their illegal
activities. The Serb people increasingly feel that the pattern of discrimination
has only changed its outward appearance because now Albanian extremists
are avoiding open forms of violence as much as possible while making
increasing use of institutions to isolate the Serb community as much
as possible and convince the remaining Serbs to leave the Province.
On the other hand, every attempt by Serbs to take advantage of public
institutions to advance their interests is met with defeat because of
the lack of appropriate mechanisms to prevent outvoting and marginalization,
and the passing of decisions discriminatory toward the Serb community.
Institutions must be returned within the framework of Resolution 1244
All these facts are influencing the Kosovo Serbs to continue to seek solutions to their problems in Belgrade rather than in Pristina, the provincial capital. The Serb community participated in the Serbian presidential elections in order to demonstrate in which country they live and want to remain. Deeply disillusioned by the UN Mission and new institutions dominated by Albanians, the Kosovo Serbs believe that no one can deny them the moral right to seek more concrete protection of the fundamental ethnic, cultural and human interests so obviously denied them within the framework of institutions currently being built under sponsorship by the UN Mission. In the opinion of local Serbs Kosovo and Metohija is increasingly being tailored to the needs of only one ethnic group. Serb leaders feel that they do not have the moral right to participate in institutions which are working on the destruction of their people. which they feel are denied to them in the UN administered Province. This is why Kosovo Serbs are now justifiably raising their voices and demanding urgent and radical changes in UNMIK policies in order to bring the process of building democratic institutions back within the framework of UN Resolution 1244. The latest proposal for decentralization of the Province has the very goal of creating a more favorable framework in which all communities will be able to realize their interests in the best possible way. That is why this is one of the key conditions for participation in the local elections for the Kosovo Serbs. Eventual nonparticipation in the elections, which is quite certain if the UN Mission continues to remain deaf to Serb proposals and suggestions, will not be an attempt to undermine the process of building institutions but first and foremost an expression of protest by a community which in cannot realize its basic interests and protect itself from complete disappearance from this region through existing institutions.