October 17, 2002 - Evening edition
PATRIARCHATE IN BELGRADE ISSUES A COMMUNIQUE ON THE STATEMENT OF MICHAEL STEINER
PUBLIC STATEMENT WITH REGARD TO MR. STEINER’S COMMENTS
With regard to the comments of Mr. Steiner, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Kosovo and Metohija, made following his meeting with His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Kyr Pavle and members of the Holy Synod of Bishops, we wish to advise that Mr. Steiner was received at his own request, not, as he subsequently advised media, upon the invitation of His Holiness the Patriarch.
After listening to the presentation of Mr. Steiner regarding the necessity of participation in local elections and his plan for decentralization of North Mitrovica, His Holiness and the members of the Synod elaborated on the full complexity of the Kosovo-Metohija question, supported by examples, as well as expressing their serious concern as a result of the still undiminished endangerment not only of the human rights of Serbs and other non-Albanian population in Kosovo and Metohija, but of their fundamental right to life, security and property. The Synod emphasized the immediate need for implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the return of refugees and expelled persons, the finding of kidnapped persons, and protection of property.
The Holy Synod expressed its reservation with respect to participation in elections not because they are undeserving of support but because of the danger that participation in local elections will serve, under the present state of affairs, as decoration for the domestic and international public, as the participation of the Serbs in the Kosovo Parliament has largely turned out to be. With respect to the decentralization of North Mitrovica, the Synod made it known that this plan is only acceptable if it serves as a model for decentralization throughout the Province.
It is up to the people themselves to responsibly decide regarding their participation or non-participation in the elections while the Church continues to express, as in the past, its readiness to assist both responsible representatives of the international community as well as our state and transitional provincial officials in finding the best solutions for a common life in dignity of all residents of Kosovo and Metohija.
Today, around 12.00 CET, 75-year old Zivorad Djokic from Silovo was attacked and severly beaten in the center of Gnjilane, 80 km east from Pristina. Djokic was on his way to regulate his pension fund when he was attacked by two Kosovo Albanian young males. The old man sustained several injuries on his head and body. The attackers threw his traditional Serb hat on the ground and trampled upon it. Djokic was transfered to the hospital and was released after the treatement. This is the second assault on Zivorad Djokic after the arrival of the peacekeeping mission to Kosovo and Metohija.
Trajkovic underlined that without decentralization, Serbian community in Kosovo cannot be preserved. ‘After Serbian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Pavle refused to call on Kosmet Serbs to take part in local elections on 26 October, I do not think any leader in Serbia or Yugoslavia would have the courage to call on them to vote’, she said. (Tanjug)
Serbia - 10/17/2002 15:43 CET
President Kostunica stressed the need of giving solid and unambiguous guarantees for decentralization of the province and for final improvement of very difficult position of Kosmet Serbs. He pointed no improvement has been reached so far in regard to creation of elementary conditions for respect for human rights, safety and return of the displaced. He estimated no resoluteness was shown there and underlined the necessity of strong obligations and respect for proposals of the Serbian side. These are all necessary preconditions for participation of Serbs at local elections and a frame for solving the above-mentioned problems. Kostunica also reminded resolving those issues was an obligation originating from UN Security Council resolution 1244.
Under the heading Albanians
Kill, World Turns Blind Eye, the Borba daily newspaper writes that the
Serbian National Council believes conditions have not been created for
the turnout of the Serbs for the local elections in Kosovo-Metohija
on October 26. The murder of Svetlana Stankovic, a 51-year-old Serb
woman, in the village of Klokot, represents an instance of organized
crime against the Serbs aimed at creating an independent state, the
president of the Council of northern Kosovo, Milan Ivanovic, said. He
added the family of nations turned a blind eye to those instances. Ivanovic
said that as long as UNMIK and KFOR did nothing to prevent similar crimes,
violence against the Serbs would not cease, whereby UNMIK and KFOR became
accomplices to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija. Ivanovic said that
ethnic Albanians were taking advantage of interim Kosovo institutions
to create an independent state. However, Ivanovic added the Serbs were
likely to turn out for the local elections in those municipalities in
Kosovo where they are a majority.
UNMIK chief Michael Steiner Wednesday urged Serbs to take part in the local elections in Kosovo-Metohija on October 26, as the planned decentralization would be impossible otherwise, which would also prevent any mass return of displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians to the province.
Participation in local political life is possible only through taking part in elections. People must understand that the next elections will be held only in four years' time. Failure to take part in the coming elections would mean that precisely those who had demanded elections would remain without their local representatives, Steiner told a press conference in Belgrade.
Readiness for further talks about participation of Serbs in polls
The need was reiterated for giving firm guarantees for decentralizaiton, on the basis of agreements and taking into consideration the proposals of the Serbian side, and a readineed was emphasized for further talks, so as to create elementary conditions for Serbs to vote in the elections, it was said after a meeting Wednesday evening of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and a delegation of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija in Belgrade.
A statement from the cabinet of the Yugoslav president said that Kostunica met in Federation Palace with a delegation of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, and that in the talks, in which also took part Coordination Center president Nebojsa Covic, was reviewed the extremely difficult position of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and the issue of participation of Serbs in the upcoming local elections.
Serbian premier confers with UNMIK chief
Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic told UNMIK chief Michael Steiner Wednesday in Belgrade that he would ask Kosovo-Metohija Serb representatives to reconsider the prospects for taking part in the local elections on October 26, the government press service said.
Djindjic said it is always better to take part in institutions, especially if they are internationally verified.
Serbian church condemns violence in Kosovo
The Raska-Prizren Eparchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) most strongly condemns the incident in the Kosovo-Metohija village of Klokot in which a Serb woman was killed Tuesday, the SPC press service said Wednesday.
After last week's attack on Serb pensioners in Pec and the stoning of a train with Serb passengers on the Lesak - Kosovo Polje railway, ethnic Albanian extremists continue resorting to violence unhindered, while international representatives continue claiming that the situation in Kosovo is improving, the statement says
Russia wants that at the Kosovo local elections, on October 26, be respected the ethnic diversity of the Province, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Moscow also hopes that the elections will be held in peace, with the participation of voters of all the ethnic communities living in the province, what would enable the formation of multiethnic bodies of local power, the Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren