Information Service

October 16-17, 2002

EDITORIAL by Fr. Sava (Janjic)

Unprecedented pressure by international officials on local Serbs, official Belgrade, even the Serbian Patriarch

Pressures by UNMIK officials on Kosovo Serbs to vote in local elections scheduled for October 26 are continuing with undiminished intensity and culminated today in UNMIK head Michael Steiner's visit to Belgrade. At the same time that Mr. Steiner is trying in every possible way to convince Belgrade officials and the Serb Patriarch himself to call on Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija to vote, in Serb villages and enclaves representatives of UNMIK are actively trying to convince the local Serb population not to boycott the elections and "to make their contribution to Kosovo democracy". Especially worrisome and disappointing is Mr. Steiner's attempt to influence Serbian Patriarch Pavle to call on the people to vote. Patriarch Pavle is very knowledgeable regarding the suffering of the Kosovo Serbs, having himself shared both good and evil with the Kosovo-Metohija Serbs for 30 years during the difficult time of Kosovo's autonomy. Therefore, an eventual call by the Patriarch on Serbs to vote under the present conditions would represent the most painful blow to all those who are fighting for survival and the right to remain in Kosovo and Metohija.

Participation in elections is certainly one of the most important of democratic rights. In developed democracies, elections are a way for every community to qualitatively change its living conditions. However, in Kosovo and Metohija elections at this time are most necessary for UNMIK and the Kosovo Albanians who desire in this manner to conclude the process of building "democratic institutions", completely excluding the rights and freedoms of the Serb people. Bringing Serb peasants traumatized by life in isolation, constant fear of everyday Albanian attacks and poverty to special classes on elections where they are taught about the great successes of the UN Mission and the rosy future is more than immoral and provokes justifiable wrath on the part of the Kosovo Serbs. Information is coming in from all parts of the Province that attempts are being made to convince elderly and uneducated Serbs from rural settings to vote in the pre-election period just to prove that municipalities where they live are multiethnic and that the future Albanian municipal government rests on a multiethnic basis. Not infrequently, indirect threats are also being made that Serbs will be left without military protection and humanitarian assistance if they do not vote. If as much energy had been invested, despite everyday attacks by Albanian extremists, on improving the future and the equality of all communities, Kosovo and Metohija would be a far nicer place to live for all of its citizens.

Bishop Artemije issued a public statement today that there is not a single justified reason on the basis of which he can call on his people and believers to vote in elections. Bishop Artemije, who has a reputation as a man ready for constructive cooperation with the UN mission, did not call on Serbs to vote this time because "the Church in Kosovo and Metohija could not face its people and believers if it were to call on them to once again support those who for the past three years have been selling them a horn saying it was a candle, promising them a better life and freedom, and giving them nothing in return". The Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija support elections and democratic institutions but only upon acceptance of the legitimate Serb request for the pre-election adoption of a decentralization program for the Province according to which the Serbs in their enclaves will be able to access public institutions safely and with dignity, without being subject to public lynching, Molotov cocktails and stoning like in Pec a few days ago. In this case, the Serbs who would vote would elect their representatives in Serb submunicipalities, not "garden sculptures" whose purpose it is to decorate the supposed multiethnicity of overwhelmingly Albanian municipal structures. Unfortunately, UNMIK has remained deaf to this proposal for the simple reason that there is a plan to "integrate" the Serbs by force into institutions and municipalities which the lack even the most basic human rights and freedoms. Integration on this basis, along with the unresolved problem of Albanian extremism, will lead to the complete disappearance of the Serb community. In the past three years, the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija have been witnesses to the fact that Kosovo Albanian leaders are doing nothing to enable the survival of the Serbs in their ancient homes and that they are even working on discouraging them from doing so. Therefore, Serb interests in the Province can best be defended by accepting a decentralized government structure which will enable at-risk communities to have an administration and local self-government in the areas where they live in their own language and without threats to their lives. To vote in the elections under existing conditions would seal the existing system where Serbs lack basic rights for the next several years, all the more so since these are the last elections to be organized by the international community in Kosovo and Metohija.

Be as it may, UNMIK neverthless has the means to convince a significant number of Serbs through pressure and propaganda to participate in "their" elections but this will only be yet another in a series of lies by means of which the attempt is being made to hide the painful and tragic truth regarding the failure of UNMIK to secure basic conditions for the dignified life of all citizens of Kosovo and Metohija, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, before the world community and the Serbian people. Such behavior on the part of UNMIK needlessly leads to further radicalization in Kosovo and Metohija and the deterioration of the security situation in the entire region.

Fr. Sava (Janjic)
Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren

BETA, B92, other sources
Representatives of Church and Government rather reserved to Steiner's requests

Translation S. Lazovic, KDN

October 16, 2002 - 23.09

Belgrade - UNMIK head Michael Steiner stated on Wednesday in Belgrade that the process of decentralization in the Province would be halted by the failure of the Serb community to participate in local elections in Kosovo on October 26. "Failure to participate in local elections would mean that those who lobbied the most for elections at the beginning of the year, meaning the Serb community, will be without elected representatives of local government," emphasized Steiner. "What will be the implication for returns when you have no Serb representatives who should be working towards this in the municipalities which are supposed to organize the returns; the task of returns will be much harder. As far as decentralization is concerned, I think it is in the best interests of all residents of Kosovo. In Europe there is a trend for the government to be closer to the people, because how can you change legal structures when you are boycotting them at the same time. Changes require cooperation. I think that changes in method, which presume participation in political life at the local level, are realizable," said Steiner. On Wednesday Steiner spoke with Patriarch Pavle and representatives of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The topic of discussion was the participation of the Kosovo Serbs in local elections and the plan for resolving the situation in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Meeting with Prime Minister Djindjic

Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic stated, with respect to upcoming local elections in Kosovo, that "participation in institutions is always better". According to an official statement by the Serbian Government, during talks with Michael Steiner, Djindjic said that he would talk again with representatives of the Serbs in Kosovo to consider the possibility of participation in elections. The statement goes on to say that Steiner presented the Serbian premier with "an overview of decentralization of government" which would give Serb municipalities a high level of self-determination" - but only under the condition that they participate in local elections.

No support in the Patriarchate

Vladimir Bozovic, the attorney for the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, refuted claims that Steiner had won the support of Patriarch Pavle and the bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church for his plan on the decentralization of Kosovska Mitrovica, as well as claims that church officials had encouraged Serbs to participate in local elections in Kosovo. Bozovic said that during the meeting with Steiner, church officials sharply protested against the current situation in Kosovo, the endangerment of the lives and safety of the people and of church property, especially the Pec Patriachate, Visoki Decani Monastery and the Prizren Seminary. Bozovic was informed by Metropolitan Amfilohije after the meeting that Steiner had asked church officials to call on the Serbs to vote and to support his plan for Mitrovica. Patriarch Pavle and the bishops were reserved towards Steiner's plan for Kosovska Mitrovica and "especially reserved" with respect to the issue of Kosovo Serb participation in local elections in the Province, said Bozovic. He said church officials had stressed that they wished to remain in constant contact, saying they wished to help. However, they assessed that conditions did not exist for the implementation of Steiner's plan for Kosovska Mitrovica, which the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija had supported but only with amendments. According to Bozovic, the Patriarch and the bishops had emphasized that the plan was acceptable only if becomes a model for the decentralization of the entire Province.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica will also meet with Steiner on Thursday in Belgrade.

(subtitles added by the editors of Info Service ERP)

Free Serbia
Steiner: Return Of Serbs Our Common Goal

October 16, 2002

Belgrade - UNMIK Head Michael Steiner pointed today after his two-hour talks with Serbian Patriarch Pavle that he was encouraged by the stand of Serbian Orthodox Church. The Church is ready to support his efforts for return of Serbs to Kosovo and Metohija.

Steiner talked to journalists and relatives of missing Serbs from Kosmet in front of Serbian Patriarchate. They refuse to take part in local elections before the fate of their missing relatives is cleared up. Pointing that 35 men from his office worked exclusively on problem of 1300 missing men, Steiner said Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija must participate in political life. Their participation in local elections and creation of official institutions, with their own representatives, would influence that greatly.

‘Our goal is common, that is the return of Serbs’, said Steiner, stressing that Serbian representatives in municipal bodies could significantly add to resolving the difficult situation in the province.


October 16, 2002

translation S. Lazovic, KDN

Gracanica - On Wednesday Momcilo Trajkovic and Oliver Ivanovic, both political representatives of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, most strongly condemned the Kosovo incident resulting in the death of 51 year old Svetlana Stankovic, assessing it to be a continuation of pressure on the Serbs to move out of Kosovo. "It is obvious that this is a terrorist attack and that great pressure is being put on the Serbs in Klokot to move out because Klokot is a thorn in their side," Momcilo Trajkovic, the chairman of the Serbian Parliament's Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, told Beta News Agency after visiting the Stankovic family. Oliver Ivanovic, a member of the Presidency of the Kosovo parliament, assessed in a statement for Beta that the incident is a part of "a wave of violence" and that "these are not individual incidents". "The landmines on the properties of Petar Jankovic and Zivojin Petrovic were planted in exactly the same manner as the landmine which killed a woman in Klokot yesterday. This, as well as the shots fired at a group harvesting corn in the village of Pasjane, are part of a planned, well organized campaign," believes Ivanovic. "One cannot simply qualify these as individual incidents because there are too many similarities, too many correspondences; all this is happening in eastern Kosovo in the Pomoravlje region," said Ivanovic and assessed that the goal of these acts was "to expel the remaining Serbs".

KIM Radio
Bishop Artemije: I will not call Serbs to vote in local elections

(16.Oktobar 2002)

Bishop of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija Artemije said today that there is not a single serious reason for the Serb political represetnatives to call Kosovo Serbs to participate in local elections scheduled by OSCE for October 26.

Bishop reminds that in the last days several incidents and attacks on Serbs occurred which is a clear proof that Kosovo Serbs would not accept my suggestion to participate in elections: "I would not dare to call anyone to vote because if I did so I would be despised and rejected by my own people and no one would listen to my words any longer", said Bishop Artemije. "For more than three years we were ready for cooperation with the international community hoping that it would help us resolve the problems in Kosovo in an objective and evenhanded way. We hoped that Serb deputies in the temporary institutions would be able to work legitimately and lawfully on improvement of our living conditions", added Bishop Artemije.

Bishop said that Serb deputies in these institutions are only a decoration because Serb requests were not accepted and the work of the temporary Kosovo institutions is directed towards independent Kosovo.

Free Serbia, Info Service ERP

October 16, 2002

MOSCOW - The Government of the city of Moscow will send today a convoy with 300 tons of humanitarian aid to the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija. The aid is expected to reach the Serbian Province by the beginning of November, via Bulgaria and Macedonia.

The Russian deputy of the Minister for emergency situations Yuriy Brazhnyikoff said that Kosovo Serbs would receive electric generators, mini kitchens, firewood ovens, electric heaters, blankets, shoes and clothes as well as food, Itar Tass confirms

It is planned that the humanitarian aid will be handed over to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo on October 27th.

The abbot of Visoki Decani Monastery, Fr. Teodosije Sibalic has just returned from Moscow with a Serb delegation which met with the representatives of the Moscow Government. Fr. Teodosije has epxressed his sincere admiration to the efforts the brotherly Russian people is making to relieve the suffering of the Serbian people and their Church in Kosovo and Metohija.

Completely opposite views on the event - Local Serbs frustrated by the behavior of US KFOR

ERP Info Service
Gracanica, October 16, 2002

Klokot - Several hundred Serb villagers gathered in Klokot village, 80 km. east from Pristina, demonstrating against what they called "the latest Albanian extremist attack" in which Svetlana Stankovic (b. 1959) a mother of two died from an explosive device in her cornfield on Tuesday afternoon. Serbian sources claim that the village was immediately blocked by strong KFOR and UN Police units after the incident and still no one can enter or leave the village.The villagers say that even the body of Mrs. Stankovic has not been taken to the hospital. Reportedly, a KFOR medical helicopter cannot still land because of the fog.

UNMIK spokesperson Andrea Angeli said that "there was no indication the incident involved foul play, and the mine was apparently left over from the 1998-99 war" "We found nothing to suggest that it was a booby trap," added Derek Chappell, spokesman for the UN police in Kosovo.

On the other hand Serb sources say that this field was cultivated by Stankovic family for the last three post-war years." It has been ploughed several times and no explosive devices have been found so far, so it is absolutely impossible that any mine could have remained from the war", said Fr. Dragan Kojic, the local Orthodox priest. On the other hand local villagers confirmed that neither Serb police nor VJ did plant any mines in a Serb village. Fr. Kojic himself was attacked by Kosovo Albanian extremists on August 14, 2000. The priest and two Serb seminarians were shot from the passing Albanian car and sustained serious injuries.

Serb villagers from this area complain on the reportedly rude behavior of the US KFOR which searches the Serb homes and does not allow normal movement of the people and schoolchildren. "This is totally unaccpetable", said Dr. Rada Trajkovic, the Serbian leader in the Kosovo's Parliament. "Three months ago when Albanian extremists blew up 5 Serb houses, US KFOR searched all Serb houses while the perpetrators left the area safely. This is not the way to fight against extremism in Kosovo but a way to encourage it even more", said Dr. Trajkovic.

Official UN Police Report, Oct 15, 2002:

Klokot Village, Gnjilane - 15/10 - 1500 hrs. An explosion took place when a female stepped on a mine, lying in a cornfield, while she along with another female, one male and a boy was harvesting. Resultantly, she died on the spot. The police responded to the scene, secured the area and called KFOR EOD to search the area. The body could not be removed, as EOD team postponed the search of the area till the morning 16/10 due to the fading light. The police and SPU have been deployed to guard the area overnight.

Orthodox Bishop cannot support local Kosovo elections

SRNA, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2002

GRACANICA -- Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren has said that he feels the Kosovo Serbs do not have a single good reason to participate in the Kosovo municipal elections due on October 26.

"Even if the people were called to cast their ballots I am certain that they would not respond to this invitation because of everything that has happened in Kosovo since the deployment of the international troops", he said. Bishop Artemije described the Serb deputies in the Kosovo Parliament as “part of the décor” because none of their proposals have so far been accepted or adopted by the Parliament.

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