October 17, 2002
Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Belgrade
PATRIARCH PAVLE TALKED TO MICHAEL STEINER
His Holiness Patriarch Pavle received today in his Patriarchal Palace together with the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops Mr. Michael Steiner, Special representative of the UN Secretary General in Kosovo and Metohija with his associates.
In an open conversation they discussed the difficult position of the Serbian people and other non-Albanain communities in Kosovo and Metohija, the issue of return of refugees back to ther homes as well as the fate of many missing and killed persons. The special attention was focused on the problem of destroyed churches, the recent attacks and murders of the remaining Serbs.
Mr. Steiner, during the conversation, asked from His Holiness Patriarch Pavle his support for Serb participation in the forthcoming elections in Kosovo and Metohija.
- Fr. Sava (Janjic)
DOES NOT RECEIVE DESIRED SUPPORT IN BELGRADE AFTER ALL
UNMIK head Michael Steiner failed to receive support today from the Serbian Orthodox Church and, apparently, the Serbian government for participation by Kosovo-Metohija Serbs in local elections in the Province scheduled for October 26. The decision on whether to participate in elections should be made by those who live in Kosovo and Metohija and know best in what conditions and with what prospects they are expected to survive, was the unanimous response Mr. Steiner received in talks with the highest representatives of the Church and state, the ERP Information Service has unofficially learned. It also learned that Steiner was informed in the Patriarchate today of the exceptionally difficult position of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Province and that he was asked to ensure that UNMIK and KFOR take a more active role in protecting the shrines of the Church and its faithful people from Albanian extremism. Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and Patriarch Pavle completely understandably did not agree to give a carte blanche to policies which in the past years have not managed to protect churches and cemeteries from desecration and vandalism.
Steiner's equation of his "plan for Mitrovica in seven points" with the Serb proposal for the decentralization of the Province is completely incorrect because the proposal for decentralization, including the amendments proposed by the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, presupposes the reconstruction of municipal government throughout the Province, thus making it possible for the Serbs to participate more directly and freely in solving their problems and preserving their ethnic, spiritual and cultural traits. Steiner's "plan for Mitrovica in seven points", on the other hand, focuses exclusively on the issue of Kosovska Mitrovica and on ways of integrating the Serb part of the city with the Albanian part, behind which, in the opinion of the Mitrovica Serbs, hides a whole series of dangers for the survival of the Serb people in this region. The Serb part of Mitrovica is de facto the multiethnic part of the city, while the southern part is almost completely ethnic Albanian, which best attests to the kind of future that awaits the unified city in which Albanians will represent the overwhelming majority of the population and the key figures in the municipality.
Discernable in Steiner's statement in Belgrade is the attempt to interpret Serb unwillingness to participate in local elections to the public as obstructionism which will supposedly "halt the decentralization of the Province" which represents a typical false argument. It is the Serbs who are in fact asking for decentralization in the full sense of the word and making this the only condition for their participation in elections. Surrendering more authority in municipalities where Serbs are already outvoted and marginalized, which is basically what Steiner's vision of decentralization presupposes, will not improve the position of the decimated Serb community if the Serbs are denied the right to govern themselves at the local, regional and Kosovo levels within the framework of an integrated but nevertheless decentralized administration.
Mr. Steiner also warns that the absence of the Serbs in municipal positions might prevent the return of displaced Serbs. This statement is untrue because Serb returns to Kosovo and Metohija are not dependent on municipal structures but primarily on UNMIK, which has been tasked with this according to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and which has largely failed to carry it out in the past three years. Conditioning refugee returns on "decorative" Serb participation in local government represents a kind of ultimatum attempting to transfer accountability for UNMIK's failure to the Kosovo Serbs, who are, according to this logic, themselves responsible for their own difficult position. In fact, the return of expelled persons is the only way of ultimately securing normal Serb participation in the administration, not the other way around.
Viewed as a whole,
Steiner's visit to Belgrade, devoid of honest willingness to modify
his rigid positions with regard to Serb proposals, have only served
to strengthen resolve against attempts to convince the Serbs to vote
in the elections at any price. Actually, the only way to resolve the
newly created situation is for UNMIK to demonstrate more sensitivity
to the needs of the Serb community and its long term survival in Kosovo
and Metohija as foreseen by UN Resolution 1244. In this case, the Kosovo
Serbs will very gladly and constructively participate in the building
of a better future for all communities equally.Fr.
October 17, 2002
Belgrade Radio B92 quoted yesterday (October 16) Mr. Steiner who said in his press conference that he had received support from Patriarch Pavle in Belgrade. The report from Steiner's press conference goes:
Pleased With Patriarch’s Support Belgrade, 16 Oct (B92)
- Following the talks with Serbian Patriarch Pavle, UNMIK chief Michael
Steiner said in Belgrade today he was particularly pleased that Patriarch
encouraged Kosovo Serbs to take part in the local Kosovo elections on
This statement however is completely contradictory to both the statement given by Mr. Vladimir Bozovic, the attorney of Metropolitan Amfilohije who participated in the meeting, as well as the Communique issued by the Patriarchate after the meeting.
Mr. Bozovic 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.In the Communique, issued by the Patriarchate after the meeting (see above), it is not said that the Patriarch ENCOURAGED Serbs to participate elections but only that Mr. Steiner ASKED for his support (and obviously did not receive it). Yesterday Bishop Artemije made a very clear statement why the Church cannot call Kosovo Serbs to participate in elections. Also, the Communique of the Patriarchate does not mention "Mitrovica Plan" at all, while Mr. Steiner explicitely says that he received "full support" for it. Mr. Steiner's unfounded statements regrettably damage the credibility of the UNMIK's chief and can hardly build better confidence.
Info Service ERP
Pristina, October 16.
leader Rada Trajkovic told local newspapers that the Serb community
would conduct its own local elections if the International community
does not support the decentralization of Kosovo. Trajkovic also said
that the only condition for participation of Serbs in local elections
is decentralization of Kosovo. K-Serb political representatives, who
preferred to remain anonymous, have stated that in connection with the
elections they are considering three options.
October 16, 2002
Belgrade, Oct. 16, 2002 - Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said in an interview with the Vecernje Novosti daily that the project of a multiethnic Kosovo, according to the plan by UNMIK Head Michael Steiner, is difficult to achieve since "this model is only a façade for independence, which is a very bad option."
"Kosovo is definitely the toughest region in Europe, and that a project which was not achieved in Bosnia, or in Macedonia, or anywhere else should be applied here - it's completely illogical. I do support a multiethnic Europe, but let us make use of that where it is the least painful - let's not make experiments where it is the toughest," Djindjic said.
Djindjic said that he tried to persuade his colleagues in the international community that Serbs need their own national institutions in Kosovo, either as local self-governance or through some kind of addition to the constitutional arrangement.
"Without more reliable guarantees, Serbs will not return to Kosovo. They do not need stories they that would be protected as citizens because they are not being attacked as citizens, but as Serbs," Djindjic said.
"The latest incidents, which are very dramatic, point to the need of a revision of the conceived project for a multiethnic Kosovo," said Djindjic.
Pristina, Oct. 15, 2002 - Deputy Head of the Povratak Coalition Caucus in the Kosovo Parliament Sokol Djordjevic said that no agreement on the Kosovo Serbs' participation in the upcoming local elections was reached in today's talks with UNMIK's chief Michael Steiner and added that a final decision will be made by Sunday.
Following a three-hour meeting between Steiner and a Povratak delegation, Djordjevic said that Serb representatives put forward remarks on all seven points of Steiner's plan and demanded decentralisation of the government in Mitrovica as well as in all of Kosovo-Metohija.
The Serb representatives warned Steiner about the poor safety level in Kosovo, mentioning the murder of Svetlana Stankovic who was killed while harvesting corn.
Head of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Nebojsa Covic said Tuesday - commenting on the death of Svetlana Stankovic from the Klokot village near Vitina - that "no one has the right to speak about great achievements in Kosovo-Metohija any longer, since (we) don't have a minimum safety level or freedom of movement."
CONDEMNS RECENT INCIDENT IN KOSOVO
CONDEMNS ATTACK ON SERB PENSIONERS IN KOSOVO
SERBS IN THE DIASPORA STRONGLY CONDEMN THE ATTACK ON ELDERLY SERB PENSIONERS AND THEIR INTERNATIONAL ESCORTS
Serbs in the Diaspora are disturbed that over one hundred of our churches and holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija have been desecrated by Albanian extremists and that our clergy are regularly taunted by local Albanians and live in forced isolation. We are also concerned that Serbs in Kosovo live in enclaves, in deplorable conditions, without basic rights and freedom. However, we are shocked that over 600 Kosovo Albanians stoned a bus carrying elderly Serbs to collect their pensions in Pec.
The United Nations and the International Force needs to stop Albanian extremism and work towards the return of refugees to their homes. Counselling for local Albanians on the merits of democracy and a free and multi-ethnic society appear necessary, especially as many of them appear to lack this basic knowledge and require assistance.
Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren