Information Service

October 7-8, 2002, 18.00hrs

Serbian Media on Forthcomming Local Elections in Kosovo and Metohija
OCT 7-8, 2002


Blic, October 7, 2002.

Dr. Rada Trajkovic and H.E. Bishop Artemije

Head of Povratak Rada Trajkovic said that the Serbs do not have conditions for taking part in the local elections in Kosovo, scheduled for 26 October. “A poor turnout of Serbs in the elections would be used by UNMIK chief Michael Steiner to claim that there not as many Serbs in Kosovo as claimed by the Serbian community,” said Trajkovic. Member of the Kosovo Parliament Presidency, Oliver Ivanovic said that, “nowhere in the world are elections held under conditions such as in Kosovo.” “There are no security guarantees for Serbs, nor any kind of protection in the Kosovo institutions,” said Ivanovic. He said that the decision to participate or boycott the elections must be reached unanimously and be valid for all Kosovo Serbs. Vice-president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Marko Jaksic said that Steiner is still blackmailing the Serbs. “He is offering separate solutions for Kosovska Mitrovica and forgetting the Serbs confined to the other enclaves. Steiner is forgetting that since participating in last year’s elections, the Serbs have gained only safe stay, free lodging and food in Albanian prisons,” said Jaksic.

Momcilo Trajkovic, head of the Serbian Resistance Movements from Kosovo (SPOT) said that his party has registered to participate in the local elections, but said that it is also prepared to boycott. Trajkovic said that the decision on participating or boycotting must be made in Belgrade. He criticised Serbian Deputy Premier Nebojsa Covic, over his statement that the Kosovo Serbs must themselves decide on whether to take part in the elections. “Covic’s statement is extremely cynical. He pushed us into the mud and cannot avoid responsibility for all the promises and empty stories,” said Trajkovic. President of the Serbian Resistance Movement (SPO) for Kosovo, Randjel Nojkic said that the Serbs should not take part in the elections until they receive firm guarantees. Representatives of all Serbian parties and associations from Kosovo will meet in Sopocani on Tuesday, and discuss whether to take part or boycott the October 26 elections.

Dr. Nebojsa Covic and Michael Steiner

Covic proposes amendments to Steiner's plan for Kosovska Mitrovica
October 07, 2002

Belgrade, Oct. 7, 2002 - Coordinating centre for Kosovo-Metohija head Nebojsa Covic proposed today that the plan drawn up by Michael Steiner, head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo-Metohija, for decentralisation and the resolution of the situation in Kosovska Mitrovica, should be amended with eight "detailed principles"

In his letter to Steiner, Covic proposed eight amendments to the plan for decentralisation and the resolution of the situation in Kosovska Mitrovica, and called on the UNMIK head to adopt the agreement as soon as possible.

According to Covic, the concept of decentralisation refers to the strengthening of local, national and regional self-government in Kosovo-Metohija. Local self-government units consist of municipalities, which can be organised as community offices (or municipal sub-units) if necessary, towns, which can be organised into several municipalities, and regions.

"National communities should organise their self-government in the form of national community councils and alliances," said Covic in his letter.

The other principles are as follows:

-Decentralisation stands for local self-government units in the exercise of their original and transferred authorities;
-Local self-government units would have their own and transferred funding at their disposal;
-Outvoting will be prevented in local self-government units of mixed nationality;
-The work of local self-government units should not violate the rights of national communities and citizens;
-The institutions and other bodies of Kosovo-Metohija would be engaged in harmonising the process of the organisation and work of local self-government.
-The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General would be charged with this task in the interim period.

Covic also recalled in his letter that Serbs took part in last year's parliamentary elections thanks to an agreement he signed with the then UNMIK head Hans Haekkerup.
According to Covic, the situation is even worse today since the agreement has failed to pave the way for the return of refugees and displaced persons to Kosovo-Metohija.
He believes that Serbs will turn out at the local elections in large numbers only if an agreement on decentralisation and local self-government is adopted prior to the elections.
"Since I am well informed on the situation in the Serb national community in Kosovo- Metohija, I am afraid that their trust in your ad hoc unwritten guarantees is almost at zero-level," Covic said in his letter.

The letter of Nebojsa Covic to Kosovo Administrator Michael Steiner
Danas, October 8, 2002

“Dear Mr. Steiner,

In the meeting of the high working group held on 3 October of this year in Prishtina we did not manage to talk about such important issue – concept of decentralisation, which was on the agenda of that meeting. I hope that we will review this topic in the next meeting, which will be held in Belgrade soon. If you remember I told you that seven points are interesting proposal to start the talks on this issue and that for that the agreement is needed. I was surprised when I heard your statement after our meeting “on uniting two parts of Mitrovica.” As you know in the meeting Mitrovica was not mentioned in the context of “cultural multiethnic containers.” Our stance regarding Mitrovica was and will always remain the same: We see Mitrovica united town as the other Kosovo towns, within which the municipality is functioning. Our joint topic should be more principle and general and this is the concept of decentralisation for Kosovo, because with it we solve wider problem than Mitrovica. That is the reason why I am writing to you. It’ a pity that you have opened such an important issue on the eve of the local elections, because the impression is that you do this more to motivate the Serbs to participate in the elections. You know that last year, the Serbs participated in the parliamentarian elections thanks to the agreement signed with Haekkerup. Now, it is almost identical situation, but unfortunately it is worst situation because that agreement did not give expected results on the most important issue such as the return of displaced Serbs and other non- Albanian population to Kosovo. I stress this because I am sure that the Serbs will participate in the local elections in a considerable number only if the agreement on decentralisation and self-governance is reached before the elections. As a person who knows the situation of the Serb community in Kosovo very well, I am afraid that the level of their trust in your ad-hoc verbal guarantees is equal to zero. However I think that they would be ready to join the process of the compilation of regulation and creation of decentralisation institutions only if UNMIK, FRY and Republic of Serbia, respectively the Co-ordination Centre for Kosovo in accordance with Resolution 1244 took part if in the process of the co-operation. Any other approach to the issue would be a failure of the participation of the Serbs in the local elections as it was two years ago. Because of that I propose to discuss the issue of definition of this agreement in the next meeting of the high working group. In this context your ideas included in seven points are welcomed, but they should be added, elaborated and well justified."

Information Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren
Kosovo and Metohija