Information Service

October 15, 2002


Reaction to the statement of UNMIK's spokesperson on improvement of life for Kosovo Serbs - by Fr. Sava (Janjic)


In the recent time there is quite a confusion whether Kosovo Serbs live better in Kosovo now or worse. While UNMIK officials on one hand speak of improvements, and even Chris Paten praises "tremendous success" of UNMIK, Kosovo Serbs repeatedly claim that they still live a hard life under discrimination and ethnic pressure. No one can deny that there have been some improvements, but they regrettably hardly affect the Serb community at all. Perhaps, even the greatest optimists among Kosovo Serbs could only agree that the situation is less bad than immediately after the war, but hardly any better.

We are going to compare now two statements: one by Susan Manuel, UNMIK spokesperson and another by Bishop Artemije, the bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Zeri: October 15, 2002

“We want to stress that regardless of some reports, the position of the Serbs is not same as last year. Their position has greatly improved and claims that the position of the Serbs is worse than last year or that it is equal to zero are untrue,” said UNMIK spokesperson Susan Manuel and added that violence against the Serbs has decreased. “Last year, 50 murders took place in Kosovo, this year there is only one Serb victim in Kosovo,” she said. She said that UNMiK is trying to increase the number of Kosovo Serbs in justice system. Regarding the KPS, she said that last year they increased the number of the Serbs in the KPS.

Source: Tanjug
September 3, 2002

Conditions do not exist yet for an organized return of Serbs to Kosovo and the position of those that have remained there is deteriorating, Bishop Artemije said on Tuesday. "Although we have Serbs in the Kosovo parliament, although we have the Co- ordinating Centre and our people in the institutions of government, things have not changed for the man in the street," Bishop Artemije said. He said that an average Serb man in Kosovo has no freedom of movement, no conditions for a normal life or employment, and that the living conditions for the Serbs have worsened in the past month or two, bishop Artemije said

These two statements might look quite contradictory, but in fact they only reflect two different realities in which Ms. Manuel and Bishop Artemije live. Ms. Manuel sees the main parameters to determine the quality of life of Kosovo Serbs in numbers of killed people, while the Bishop meets his people on the daily basis and feels on his own skin how free and good life Serbs have in Kosovo. Again we can see a gap between two realities, the one of the UN bureaucracy and the other one of the people who live in such reality. Undoubtedly, looking things from the window of the UN Headquarters in Pristina, which is only 500 m. away from the isolated ghetto of last 200 Pristina Serbs, the reality is not that bad at all. The logic of numbers can be very cruel because it appears that only a dead Serb is a dissatisfied Serb while those who suffer every day discrimination, harassments, fear and humiliations from Kosovo Albanians can be probably considered satisfied.

If one would determine the quality of life of Kosovo Serbs on the number of killed one could perhaps quite rightly say that Kosovo Serbs are safer in Kosovo than the English in London, French in Paris or Germans in Berlin, because the murder rate in these big cities is much higher than in Kosovo. Of course this logic would not bring us to the truth and that is why such statements and assessments of UNMIK representatives are rather humiliating for the people which live on the margins of society for three years.

The main reason for such a small murder rate, compared to the first post war months, is that Serbs live almost totally isolated in their enclaves. Those Serbs who still live in Albanian inhabited areas or cities still live in a kind of house prison or even under the KFOR or police protection. In such circumstances it is not quite easy to kill a Serb. On the other hand the progress in return of Serb refugees is rather disappointing, Serbs do not have basic access to medical, educational institutions and generally do not enjoy freedom of movement. Taking these facts into consideration one can hardly say that UNMIK has created a a safe surrounding for all national communities.

Fr. Sava (Janjic)

(while I was writing this comment I received the information about the Serb woman who died from a mine in East Kosovo (US Sector). As usual events on the ground deny assessments of UNMIK officials).

Photo - 1984
Situation from the eighties and the time of Kosovo Albanian autonomy
repeats even worse - 1984, a Serb woman in Prekale village near Pec
goes to the field with her children and a rifle to protect her family. At that time
Albanians attacked Serbs in fields and forests, whenever they were alone or helpless

Info Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren (ERP)
Serb villagers in Eastern Kosovo live in fear

Gracanica, October 15, 2002

Fr. Dragan Kojic, Serbian Orthodox priest from Vitina and Klokot parish send information to the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren that a Serb woman, SVETLANA STANKOVIC, born in 1959, died today around 16.00 from an explosive device which was planted in her cornfield. Mrs. Stojanovic was the mother of two small children and she cultivated her field in the last three years after the war. Local villagers say that this is not the first incident in which Serb farmers would be killed by a planted mine or explosive device which Albanians leave in their fields in order to make them leave their homes and stop cultivating their land. Usually, police reports would indicate that these explosive devices were planted during the war although Serbs cultivate their land regularly and such an explanation is without any sound foundation. This incident has aroused fear and deep concern of the Serb community in Klokot, a village in which only two months ago Albanian extremists blew up 5 Serbian homes. After this attack no perpetrators have been arrested despite active investigation and the reward offered by the US KFOR.

Fr. Dragan Kojic who reported about this incident was himself attacked by Kosovo Albanian gunmen on July 14, 2000 near Klokot. He and two seminarians were wounded by hits fired from an Albanian car. (Read the story at)

Danas - Belgrade daily

October 15, 2002

Osojane - Elderly Serbs which were attacked by the Kosovo Albanian crowd in Pec while they were trying to regulate their pensions, recover from burns, injuries and stress. Milivoje Repanovic (67) one of 45 Serb pensioners from the bus says that he can never forget the scenes of violence against helpless elderly persons.

I cannot remember not a single face of our attackers. At that moment I only covered my head with both hands and I can still hear rocks drumming on our demolished bus, said Repanovic.

Milose and Milija Djuric who were injured too are recovering too, confirmed Repanovic. The worst injuries received Djuro Djuric who was badly burned by a petrol bomb and hit by heavy stones.

May it never happen again. KFOR soldiers promissed to us that they would do everything to complete the investigation and arrest the attackers, says Repanovic.

DANAS - Belgrade daily
Ivanovic: No Conditions For Election Participation

October 14, 2002
Jagodina, 14 Oct - Milan Ivanovic, the President of the Serb National Committee for North Kosovo has said that in light of the recent violence towards the Serbs, there are no conditions for them to go out in the upcoming local elections in Kosovo and Metohija.

"Under these conditions no one has the political or the moral right to persuade Kosovo Serbs to participate in the local elections. There are no basic conditions for positive determination because the violence over the Serbs is still real, there is no return of IDP’s, and the process of decentralization has not been implemented in Kosovo and Metohija," stated Ivanovic for "Palma Plus" TV station. He also said that in spite of the subtle stance from Belgrade on the subject, Kosovo Serbs have to determine for themselves if they want to participate or not, although as he added "the more likely option at this point of time is for the Serbs not to participate in the local elections."

Ivanovic emphasized that the "Barbaric attack" on the Serbs in Pec who just went to take there retirement pay, and the one on the Serbs in the train, near Vucitrn are showing that the Albanians "have not given up on the idea for creating an independent state with the means of violence."

"It is illogical for UNMIK to insist on solving the question over the northern part of Mitrovica, as a central problem of Kosovo and Metohija, forgetting that almost all other urban settlements in this region are ethnically clean areas inhabited by only Albanians except for North Mitrovica", said Ivanovic.

Epoka e Re - Kosovo Albanian daily

October 15, 2002

Pristina - The chief of Povratak caucus in Kosovo Assembly, Rada Trajkovic, stated that decentralization is the only condition of Serbs for their participation in the elections of 26 October. She estimated that it is impossible for Kosovo Serbs to reach their rights through existing institutions, at municipal and Kosovo level. “The Serbs are reviewing the possibility of participation in the elections. Together with international community we will try to find strength and participate. To boycott the elections is the last thing we want. If the international community does not support the idea of decentralization in Kosovo, we will organize our elections,” said Trajkovic.

The political representatives of Kosovo Serbs have not yet decided on their participation in the local elections in Kosovo. UNMIK, through Steiner’s plan on Mitrovica, includes decentralization. Simon Haselock, the chief of UNMIK Public and Information office said: “Rada Trajkovic does not speak on behalf of all Serbs… Covic, Kostunica called on Serbs to participate in the elections and they did not say that they are not going to participate.” The OSCE spokesperson in Kosovo, Sven Lindholm, told Epoka e Re that it is individual decision of every person whether to participate in the elections or not. “We are organizing legitimate elections in all municipalities for all Kosovars. We will not organize other elections, either for Serbs or somebody else,” stated Lindholm.

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