NEWSLETTER No 30

Finally time for Serbia to present a unified position on Kosovo and Metohija

Editorial by Fr. Sava (Janjic)
the text reflects positions of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese in Kosovo and Metohija

More than four years after the end of the NATO aggression on Yugoslavia , the Republic of Serbia still has not adopted a unified political platform for resolving the Kosovo and Metohija problem. Every discussion on the subject in the past has ended in formal reaffirmation of Resolution 1244, which in itself gives a relatively ambiguous framework for resolution of the future status of the Province. A serious understanding of the Kosovo and Metohija problem was especially apparent following the toppling of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic when, for the first time in a long time, Serbia was offered the opportunity to more clearly articulate its strategy as a state. Numerous irresponsible statements of leading state figures created an impression among international circles that Serbia did not care about Kosovo and Metohija and that, in order to gain entry to the European Union, it would be ready to barter away the larger part of its state territory. It is hardly necessary to emphasize to what extent such statements failed to reflect the sentiment of the majority of the population, as became clear from the results of the most recent Serbian elections.

On a life-support machine: Situation of the Kosovo Serbs

The remaining Serbs mainly live in rural or semi-urbanised areas, with the notable exception of North Mitrovica, the only surviving stronghold of Serb urban life. Smaller Serb areas are present in Gracanica and Strpce, and in several towns, such as Gnjilane and Orahovac. In most cases, Serbs live in separate villages within ethnically-mixed municipalities rather than in direct contact with other ethnic groups. Individual Serbs and families continue to live in small numbers in other towns and in a few urban areas. However their security situation continues to be poor and their freedom of movement is often restricted to their own home, forcing them to subside on hand- outs from international agencies. While the rest of Kosovo enjoys an influx of money thanks to international assistance and remittances from Albanians working abroad, Serb areas are growing poorer. Apart from immediate physical security, all aspects of life are problematic, including freedom of movement, employment opportunities, property rights and access to education, healthcare and justice. What sets the Serbs aside from other, potentially even more vulnerable communities such as the Roma, is the fact that they receive political backing from neighbouring Serbia and have, at least in Northern Kosovo, the capacity to organise themselves into a credible political (and to some extent paramilitary) force. (Full report is available at: Newsletter 09 March, 2004 - Second Edition)

Bishop Artemije: aerophotogrammetric survey a prelude to revision of land registry books in Kosovo

Kosovo Serbs expect and request that the newly formed institutions of government in Belgrade, the Government of Serbia as well as the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, carry out an expert assessment of this decision by the Kosovo provisional government, and adopt an official position with regard to this issue. Can Serbs participate in the aerophotogrammatic survey in Kosovo and Metohija, then, and by doing so will they give legitimacy to the establishment of new land registry evidence and thus contribute to further deterioration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Serbian state on this part of its territory and, by doing so, endanger the survival of the Serb people on their own land? (Full text at: Newsletter 09 March, 2004)

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.

Full report is available in our: Newsletter 06 March, 2004


Bishop Artemije with the OSCE chief in Kosovo, Mr. Paschal Fieschi

Newsletter 04 March, 2004

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

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.netmunities 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.

Bishop Artemije resigns as SNC KIM president

Orthodox Bishop of the
Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija


No. 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 we have led the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija after being elected unanimously at the founding assembly in October 1999.

During this time we 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 our knowledge and ability under conditions and circumstances of which all of us are aware.

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.

For these reasons, we, as the Bishop of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija, are no longer able to remain in the position of President of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, and hereby submit our 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, we wish the SNC KIM much success in its future endeavors.

On our part, we will continue to do everything possible within our power (as we 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)

New Serbian Premier on Kosovo and Metohija issue

First of all, it means that there can be no solution to the issue of the status of Kosovo and Metohija without Serbia and the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Whoever wants to put this issue on the agenda should be aware that it is not realistic to do so without Serbia and the state union, as well as that for Serbia the word "status" with respect to Kosovo and Metohija can mean many things but under no circumstances can it mean independence.

ERPKIM Info-Service
Gracanica, March 3, 2004

(This is a passage from the yesterday's speech by Dr. Vojislav Kostunica on the program of his new Government)
 

Dr. Vojislav Kostunica
The Serbian Government will concern itself with Kosovo and Metohija as one of its top priority issues. Keeping this fundamental position constantly in mind, we will conduct a realistic policy based on the interests of the state. What exactly does that mean?

First of all, it means that there can be no solution to the issue of the status of Kosovo and Metohija without Serbia and the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Whoever wants to put this issue on the agenda should be aware that it is not realistic to do so without Serbia and the state union, as well as 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 primary and most serious problem in Kosovo and Metohija has been and remains the issue of Serb returns to their homes and patrimony. It is understood that we cannot resolve this problem without UNMIK but we can propose a realistic plan in phases that would unfold in step with guaranteed security for returnees. According to the same gradual approach, work should begin on returning property to its legal owners, private individuals and the state, as well as on securing and restoring the Serbian and European cultural heritage in the Province.

Considering these dramatic changes, it is urgently imperative to establish new mechanisms for the protection of part of the population, the property and the cultural wealth of the Province. The Government will, therefore, in cooperation with appropriate authorities of the state union, including the Coordinating Center, insist before UNMIK and key international representatives on a new and different institutional framework for the protection of the interests of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija. If substantial autonomy is the formula whereby Resolution 1244 provides for the self-administration of Kosovo and Metohija with respect to Serbia, then substantial autonomy for the Serb community will be the new formula which will provide this community with basic conditions for its survival in Kosovo and Metohija, considering the discrimination toward Serbs which dominates in the provisional institutions of self-government and among the majority of the population. Substantial autonomy for the Serb community in Kosovo implies territorial autonomy (division into entities or cantonization of Kosovo and Metohija), as well as cultural and individual autonomy.

It is understood that we are also ready for direct talks with representatives of provisional institutions of self-government. Both topics and organizational forms for this exist. However, this clearly does not include the issue of independence and these talks are clearly not between two political state parties. Thus, we can discuss many issues in Kosovo and Metohija but we cannot and will not negotiate on Kosovo and Metohija as an Albanian issue. No Serbian government has the mandate to do such a thing and, consequently, neither do we.

Translation by Snezana Ivanisevic de Berthet

Outcry over murders in Kosovo

Serbian journalists today refused to accompany UN governor Harri Holkeri and Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova on a photo-opportunity tour of thirty Serb families who have been repatriated to villages in the Klina district. The local Serbs were openly hostile, greeting Holkeri and Rugova with banners carrying slogans such as "We want the truth told," "We are imprisoned" and "Give us our freedom".

Kosovo today in photos
Serb victims burried - Serb protests against UNMIK and KFOR Albanian protest against Serb returnees - Holkeri and Rugova in a "circus tour" around Kosovo

The last farewell to murdered  Milijana

Serb funeral under police protection

Families remain in grief
During the Panikhida Service

UNMIK and KFOR as two inert turtles
Serb protest in Lipljan

ERPKIM Info-Service
Gracanica, October 31, 2003

PRISTINA, LIPLJAN -- Saturday (B92) -- More than a thousand people gathered in the Kosovo village of Staro Gracko today for the funeral of Milijana Markovic.

Twenty-four-year-old Markovic and her companion, Zlatomir Kostic, were killed on Thursday night when unknown gunmen fired at their car on the outskirts of the village.

Twenty-two Serbs have been killed in the Lipljan municipality since the arrival of peacekeepers and the United Nations administration in mid-1999.

Zoran Cirkovic, a local official, claimed Serbs in the village were being systematically attacked in an attempt to drive them out. He called for support from the authorities in Belgrade and Serbs in central Serbia.

"Apparently they don't want peace"

The head of Belgrade's Kosovo Coordination Centre, Nebojsa Covic, was conspicuous by his absence from the funeral today.

He told Radio B92 that international peacekeepers had said they could not guarantee his safety.

"I really can't believe that the whole world, the whole international community in Kosovo can't resolve the problem of normal living conditions, normal safety, normal freedom of movement for Serbs and non-Albanians.

"Believe me, I am certain that, if they wanted it, peace and safety would win in a moment. Apparently they don't want this. There are honourable exceptions, but to a great extent they have been successfully got at.," said Covic.

Locals reject political glad-handing

The murders have sparked protests throughout Kosovo and from all sides.

Serbian journalists today refused to accompany UN governor Harri Holkeri and Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova on a photo-opportunity tour of thirty Serb families who have been repatriated to villages in the Klina district.

The local Serbs were openly hostile, greeting Holkeri and Rugova with banners carrying slogans such as "We want the truth told," "We are imprisoned" and "Give us our freedom".-

Local Albanians were similarly enraged by the visit, with scores of them demonstrating outside the Klina council offices while the Pristina guests spoke to local politicians.

They protested against the return of Serbs to Kosovo and demanded that light be shed on the fate of missing Albanians.

Rugova and Holkeri in a circus parade while Serbs are in grief - wrong step in a wrong moment

Protests orchestrated by Rugova's party: Kosovo Albanians in Klina protest against Serb returns



"No evidence of racial motivation"

KFOR responded to the murders by claiming that there was no evidence that this was an ethnic attack.

A statement from the international peacekeepers' Multinational Brigade warned that speculation following the murders was "unsubstantiated, unconfirmed and not in the interests of anyone".

The 22 murders in Lipljan and the way they have occurred did not point to any coordinated and systematic campaign, said KFOR.

An investigation is under way, said the peacekeepers, but neither motive nor perpetrators have yet been discovered.

Nowicki: UNMIK police reliability at stake
Kosovo ombudsman Marek Antoni Nowicki assessed on Saturday that the reliability of the work of UNMIK police is at stake due to the fact that a number of investigations regarding attacks against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija remain unsolved.

FoNet News Agency, Belgrade
February 21, 2004

Kosovska Mitrovica - Kosovo ombudsman Marek Antoni Nowicki assessed on Saturday that the reliability of the work of UNMIK police is at stake due to the fact that a number of investigations regarding attacks against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija remain unsolved. "This is not the first case of murder but I hope that, unlike in previous cases, the police will find the perpetrators because the murder was interethnic," Nowicki told reporters during a visit to Serb villages near Vucitrn. He added that in such cases police authorities are not able to immediately inform the public about the investigation.

Nowicki said that the Ombudsperson's Office had questioned the investigation of the attack on the Nis Express bus near Podujevo, which resulted in the death of 14 Serbs, including one infant, and still remained unsolved by police three years later. "It's not important that the police respond to the institution or me but to the families of the victims and the public," said Nowicki. He added that it was very important for the public to have some insight into what had been done in three years.

Nowicki stated with regret that after the murders is Staro Gracko, where 14 Serb harvesters were massacred in 1999, as well as after murders of Serbs in Gorazdevac, Obilic and Podujevo, UNMIK police officials only made statements and this was the only news the general public got. "It is important that the public is informed because the reliability of the UNMIK police is at stake," concluded Nowicki

Two Serbs murdered in Lipljan

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren has been warning on a daily basis of a deterioration of the security situation which the result not only of the existing ethnic terrorism on the part of the Albanians, who have carried on their activities unhindered and unpunished during the past five years despite the presence of the UN mission and KFOR, but also of the unwillingness and unreadiness of international forces to implement Resolution 1244 and carry out the mandate they were deployed to carry out in Kosovo and Metohija.

Deputy PM of Serbia Dr. Nebojsa Covic blamed KFOR and UNMIK for the murder, emphasizing that their officials are falsely portraying the security situation in Kosovo. "Who has the right to give false reports to the UN Security Council on the security situation in Kosovo? Who has the right to accuse monks for expressing their fear when they say that the Kosovo Police Service cannot protect them?" asked Covic.

Full report in our Newsletter: Newsletter 20. February, 2004


Since arrival of KFOR to Lipljan 22 Serbs were killed in Lipljan
Kosovo Serbs gather in Staro Gracko and stage a protest against the yesterday's mureder and continuation of Albanian ethnic terror against Kosovo Serbs (photo: Serbs in front of Lipljan 14th century church)

Two rounds of shooting

BETA News Agency, Feb. 20

Lipljan deputy mayor Borivoje Vignjevic said last night that the bodies were found after two rounds of shooting were heard in Lipljan.

 
The first shooting at around 20,30 was aimed at Serb houses in the village of Staro Gracko and coming from the Albanian village of Alas.
 
According to Vignjevic, no one was hurt in this attack but there was material damage. A little later, shots could be heard on the other side of Lipljan near the firestation.
 
KFOR and UNMIK have blocked all roads to Lipljan, and patrols have also been reinforced on the road to the village of Staro Gracko.

Systematic Destruction of Orthodox Churches and Cemeteries Continued in 2003

by Carl Savich

What has been the result of NATO military occupation of the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija? Kosovo Ombudsman Merek Nowicki announced the findings of his investigations on December 19, 2002. Nowicki concluded that Kosovo might become a "black hole" of human rights in Europe. UN Resolution 1244 was not being followed. Nowicki concluded that UNMIK was "not respecting human rights regulations established by international community." He found that the remaining Kosovo Serbs lived in Holocaust-style ghettos in Kosovo. The Serbian population has no human rights protections and is under daily pressure to leave Kosovo. What has US/NATO/ KFOR done to allow for the return of the 240,000 Serbian refugees expelled by the UCK in 1999? According to Nowicki, NATO and UNMIK have done absolutely nothing: "The possibility of a Serb return to urban areas is almost zero, because a minimum of conditions for their return have not been secured."

full text: Newsletter 21. February, 2004

Serbian Patriarch calls on Solana, Holkeri to protect Church interests

The Patriarch sent a letter to Solana and Holkeri following attempts by the Kosovo ministry for education, science and technology to obtain a decision from the Pristina municipal assembly confiscating the right of the Serbian Orthodox Church to use a parcel of land on which the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior, still under construction, is located, as well as the lot foreseen for the construction of the St. Sava Cultural Center.

Beta News Agency, Belgrade
February 17, 2004
 
 
BELGRADE - Serbian Patriarch Pavle called on the European Union's high commissioner for foreign policy and security Javier Solana and UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri to protect the rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in Kosovo and Metohija.
 
The Patriarch sent a letter to Solana and Holkeri following attempts by the Kosovo ministry for education, science and technology to obtain a decision from the Pristina municipal assembly confiscating the right of the Serbian Orthodox Church to use a parcel of land on which the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior, still under construction, is located, as well as the lot foreseen for the construction of the St. Sava Cultural Center.
 
In his letter the Serbian Patriarch states that "it is not the intent of the SOC to provoke the Albanian community nor the University of Pristina but to serve, through the presence of an active Orthodox church and the center, as a source and as evidence of multinational relations toward the creation of a present-day multiethnic and multiconfessional Kosovo and Metohija".
 
"We sincerely hope that you will protect the interests of our Church by your official reaction in timely fashion and undertake concrete measures to make it known that the establishment of a society based on law in Kosovo and Metohija cannot be implemented by the provisional authorities of the Province to anyone's detriment," emphasized Patriarch Pavle in his letter.
 
The ministry of education in the Kosovo government has submitted several proposals to Pristina municipal authorities that the existing but incomplete Church of Christ the Savior be removed.
 
The Kosovo ministry of education earlier claimed that the church was built on property belonging to the University of Pristina and that it was built illegally without a construction permit.
 
The justification for the ministry's proposal is that the Church supposedly does not have valid ownership titles for the land.
 
Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, however, said that the SOC has all necessary documentation confirming that the church was built legally.
 
UNMIK spokesperson Sunil Narula told Beta last year that UNMIK will not allow the destruction of the Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina.
 

The medieval Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina, reminded Bishop Artemije, was destroyed by the Turks in 14th century along with 11 Orthodox churches, who built the present Pirinez mosque on its foundations.

Return KFOR security checkpoints to Serb villages

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren most strongly protests this decision by UNMIK and requests that the checkpoints be returned to the entrances of Serb villages located in high risk zones. If these decisions are not changed as quickly as possible, the consequences will be enormous and will place KFOR in the direct function of the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and Metohija of its remaining Serbs.

ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, February 16, 2004


Sunday's departure of Serbs from the village of Miroc (pr. Miroch) near Vucitrn (Vuchitrn) is another alarm signal after the most recent KFOR decision to begin the process of discontinuing control checkpoints located at the entrance to Serb villages in endangered parts of Kosovo and Metohija. The Diocese of Raska and Prizren most strongly protests this decision by UNMIK and requests that the checkpoints be returned to the entrances of Serb villages located in high risk zones.

The Diocese can understand that KFOR checkpoints are not essential in purely Serb environments such as, for example, Gracanica, north Kosovo or Brezovica, where a significant number of Serb policemen in the Kosovo Police Service are working in local police stations. However, several isolated Serb village enclaves in central Kosovo and especially in Metohija (Velika Hoca - pr. Hocha - and the Serb part of Orahovac, the Pec area) represent areas of high security risk and removal of KFOR control checkpoints from these locations will lead to the complete disappearance of Serbs from these areas.

"This decision will not only discourage the process of returns to the area, from which large numbers of Serbs were expelled after June 1999, but will lead to the complete departure of the remaining Serb population which has survived here in recent years thanks to the protection of KFOR forces," Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren told the ERP KIM Info Service. "We are especially concerned by the intention of gradually turning over the protection of our most important holy shrines in Metohija to the KPS, which we see on the example of Holy Archangels where KFOR escorts have already been cancelled," said Bishop Artemije.

It is important to note that in areas inhabited by the Albanian majority population where Serbs are living in complete isolation the UNMIK police has given great authority to the KPS, which is comprised almost exclusively of Albanians, and includes a significant number of former KLA members. In the past four and a half years the police has shown itself to be incompetent to resolve a single crime committed against Serbs; therefore, it is absurd to expect Serbs to have confidence in such a police. Furthermore, the Jan. 21 attack in Djakovica by a group of Albanians on monks from Holy Archangels Monastery escorted by German KFOR best shows that extremist Albanians cannot be contained by armored military vehicles, let alone from far weaker police forces.

Additionally, it is well-known that, despite a few honorable exceptions, UNMIK police in this region is relatively corrupt. On the other hand, the local, almost completely Albanian KPS is being given increasing authority. However, the KPS not only lacks training to conduct police work and fight against organized crime but among its ranks there is also a certain number of people, policemen as well as other officials and translators, with direct ties to the activities of extremist groups.

Unfortunately, the latest KFOR policy which attempts to turn over the task of protecting the endangered population to those who are themselves directly or indirectly responsible for the existence of a climate of ethnic violence is in complete contradiction to the proclaimed goals of UNMIK and Kosovo institutions to launch a more intensive process for the return of the displaced Serb population during the current year. There are even indications that in the background of this latest strategy is the intent of discouraging Serbs to return in order to justify the unwillingness of the Albanians and the international factor to built a truly multiethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija. Many local Albanian and international representatives are increasingly talking about how the Serbs do not really want to return. The truth is that Serbs want to return but cannot accept to return to conditions where even the most elementary guarantees for their physical safety are lacking. Returnees and those who remained in their homes are willing to integrate into a democratic and multiethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija but not into a purely ethnic Albanian society where the only two options are assimilation or disappearance.

The best example showing not only the incompetence of UNMIK police and the KPS but their direct participation in crimes is last year's massacre against Serb children in Gorazdevac. Not only was an adequate investigation not conducted but when police dogs came to the house of a local mafia chief and former KLA member in a nearby Albanian village nothing further was done. UNMIK has completely obstructed the efforts of the military police of Italian carabinieri from completing the investigation and the entire case was basically hushed up. In democratic countries senior police representatives would resign as a result of failure to resolve such a crime. However, even after the Gorazdevac massacre, the slaughter of the three members of the Stolic family in Obilic and many other ethnically motivated crimes, not one international or Albanian official has resigned. What is more, the mandate of UNMIK police chief in Pristina, German Stefan Feller, has been renewed and he remains at the head of the organization.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren especially appeals to the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija and Serb representatives in Kosovo institutions to demand an urgent change in KFOR's decision to abandon endangered Serb enclaves and monasteries to the KPS. If these decisions are not changed as quickly as possible, the consequences will be enormous and will place KFOR in the direct function of the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and Metohija of its remaining Serbs.

EDITORIAL by Fr. Sava Janjic

Wrong steps in wrong time

If KFOR continues with the present practice of further reduction of troops on expense of security of the local population, primarily Serbs but also other vulnerable minorities it will be very hard to expect some promising results from the process of returns this year. Hardly any displaced Serb family would decide to return to an area in which security depends now on those who expelled them five years ago or on UNMIK police which is incapable of bringing to justice perpetrators of at least one major ethnically motivated crime after the conflict.

ERP KIM Info-service
Gracanica, February 12, 2004

The recent decisions of KFOR to continue reduction of deployed forces in the restive UN administered Serbian province has created uneasiness and serious concerns among the local Serbian population and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The year 2004 has already been called a year of intensified returns and it is well known that so far KFOR has played an important role in creating the atmosphere of security for the beleaguered Serbian community which still lives deprived of its most elementary human and religious rights. "KFOR's contribution to the returnee projects, particularly in the Italian area of responsibility (Osojane, Bica, Belo Polje) is very precious, not to mention the  protection of our most valuable holy sites which would be turned into rubble by Albanian extremists without KFOR's protection", says Bishop Artemije, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. "However, the recent decisions to remove KFOR check points in Velika Hoca and several Serb villages in Central Kosovo has already produced counter effects - several Serb families have already decided to leave Kosovo discouraged by the absence of effective protection. The others are announcing that they would leave if such measures continue", added the Bishop. (FULL TEXT Newsletter 13. February, 2004)

Serbs from Brezovica and Sredacka Zupa embittered by behavior of German KFOR toward brotherhood of Holy Archangels near Prizren

"This development involving the monastery is just further proof that the international community lacks the courage to confront reality in Kosovo and Metohija, which is that the Albanian majority does not want Serbs living next to it. The main problem is that such behavior is tolerated. And if the international community continues to keep its eyes shut to this reality, it will not be able to escape responsibility for having participated in the expulsion of the Serb people from Kosovo," stated Strpce mayor Sladjan Ilic during a visit to Holy Archangels.


Abbot Herman at the door of his chapel in the Holy Archangels Monastery
"Behavior of German KFOR directly discourages Serb returns and normalization
 of life in the Prizren area"

"It is incredible how much the hate of one individual can impact the security situation in the whole region," said T.T. of Sredacka Zupa. He added: "It is unfathomable to us to bury someone without a requiem mass. If escorts for the priests have been discontinued, I am afraid that our own survival here has been brought into question."

''When we decided to return to Sredska we were told that everything would be fine. But everything is not fine here and apparently someone is bothered by the fact that there Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. Unfortunately, this time it is members of German KFOR who have taken on the role of persecutors," said S.G., a returnee to Sredacka Zupa.

"I could not have imagined that those who are supposed to protect us would turn out to be so hostile toward our clergy, and through them, toward us. I appeal to everyone who can help to do so in order to bring a stop to the inhuman punishment of the monks of Holy Archangels, who as we speak here are sitting in the dark, freezing and hungry," said S.J., a returnee to Sredacka Zupa. (FULL REPORT -
Newsletter 08. February, 2004 )

Behavior of German KFOR towards Monastery of Holy Archangels still unchanged

"Perhaps the Lt. Colonel Brinkmann should become aware that the German army in Kosovo has not come to exercise reprisals against the Serbian Orthodox Church and the religious rights of its faithful but to be of assistance particularly to vulnerable communities. 30 of our churches have been destroyed in the area of their military control and for more than four years no one of them has shown a minimum of responsibility and compassion but even want to leave us completely in the hands of Albanian extremists", said Fr. Herman.

ERP KIM Info-service
Gracanica, February 07, 2004

(photo: Abbot Herman - Holy Archangels Monastery)

Information service of the Serbian Orthodox Church for Kosovo and Metohija has been advised by the monks of the Holy Archangels monastery near Prizren that the German KFOR is still refusing to show flexibility towards the basic needs of the monastery. Abbot Herman said to ERP KIM Info-service that the German KFOR decision to discontinue escorts and meet the monastery's needs regarding the generator and the food supplies for the priest in Prizren has already created lots of uneasiness among potential returnees to Prizren area.

"I have received hundreds of telephone calls from many people in Serbia and abroad and all of them expressed outrage with the behavior of Lt. Col Brinkmann and his soldiers who behave more as an occupation force than as peacekeepers. Perhaps Lt. Colonel Brinkmann should become aware that the German army in Kosovo has not come to exercise reprisals against the Serbian Orthodox Church and the religious rights of its faithful but to be of assistance particularly to vulnerable communities. 30 of our churches have been destroyed in the area of their military control and for more than four years no one of them has shown a minimum of responsibility and compassion but even want to leave us completely in the hands of Albanian extremists", said Fr. Herman.



TWO SERB CHILDREN DEAD AND FOUR WOUNDED IN A COWARDLY ATTACK OF KOSOVO ALBANIAN TERRORISTS

 

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