October 22, 2002
OF SERB NATIONAL COUNCIL ON UPCOMING MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
At last night's meeting of political leaders of the Kosovo-Metohija Serbs with Federal Republic of Yugoslavia President Vojislav Kostunica and Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija head Nebojsa Covic a consensus was reached that Kosovo-Metohija Serbs should participate in municipal elections on October 26 after all in all locations where security and institutional conditions for this exist. A statement issued after the five hour-long meeting and distributed to the press says that Serbs will be ready to participate in local organs of government to the extent that an acceptable plan for decentralization is development immediately following the elections. The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija accepts and support this joint statement in its entirety.
The security situation for the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija is extremely difficult and basic conditions for democratic and free elections still do not exist. Nevertheless, the majority of the participants in yesterday's meeting is convinced that by yesterday's statement UNMIK head Michael Steiner opened the path to te process of decentralization of the Province and the realization of the legitimate right of national communities to local, regional and national self-government in Kosovo and Metohija, in accordance with the principles of the European Charter on Local Self-Government.
The representatives of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija will actively join in the scheduled discussion on the decentralization of Kosovo and Metohija in order to hold elections for the councils of the new municipalities/municipal units as soon as possible, as foreseen by Mr. Steiner's plan.
CHAIRMAN OF THE
SERB NATIONAL COUNCIL OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA BISHOP OF RASKA AND PRIZREN
Decani, October 22, 2002
The most recent Serb request for decentralization of Kosovo and Metohija has been criticized in some Albanian language media as yet another attempt to introduce ethnic quotas in government and an effort to politically legalize the process of enclave formation. These objections would be justified if the Kosovo Serbs were truly able to hold a position as complete equals, as well as to enjoy all civil and individual rights and freedoms in the Province. Unfortunately, the enclaves which have existed in Kosovo and Metohija for the past three years are not the consequence of the self-isolation of the Serb people but, first and foremost, of the discrimination by the majority of the Albanian population which is building a society to meet the needs of only one national community. Under such unfavorable conditions, there is no other way of preserving basic safety of living except in enclaves where the Serbs enjoy limited freedom of movement, the right to work, use of their own language and freedom of worship at least locally.
Since Albanian political leaders have not projected a clear vision of a multiethnic and integral civil society in three years, the Serbs have the legitimate right to request the creation of municipal units for the purpose of preserving their ethnic, cultural and religious identity which will reflect the situation on the ground and enable the local administration to be nearer to national communities. The Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are really asking for their right to local, regional and national self-government which would provide long-term guarantees to the Serb community for surviving and staying in its historic homeland.
Therefore, the primary purpose of the request for decentralization is to prevent outvoting and marginalization of Serb representatives in the government and to create necessary prerequisites for Serbs to protect their basic interests within the administrative framework, something that is not possible within the existing structures of municipal government and which has discouraged the Serbs so far from participating in upcoming municipal elections.
For centuries Kosovo and Metohija has been a region where different communities lived together but an integrated multiethnicity has never existed. Thus, the decentralization of the Province at the local, regional and provincial level has the goal of institutionally enabling different communities with their own ethnic, cultural and religious traditions to live together within the framework of a democratic system in which every citizen will be equal before the law.
Fr. Sava (Janjic)
Pristina - During
a search operation for arms and smuggled goods in Pec, members of KFOR
arrested four people and confiscated 260 tons of smuggled cigarettes,
KFOR in Pristina has advised. The names of the arrested people have
not been released pending further investigation, the statement says.
In one warehouse located on the Pec-Pristina road, Italian KFOR troops
discovered 260 tons of smuggled cigarettes. With the help of UNMIK police,
soldiers also discovered a small quanitity of weapons, five automatic
rifles, five handguns, four radio transmitters and approximately 500
pieces of munition in two houses in Pec. The warehouse where the smuggled
cigarettes were found has been sealed off by police pending the end
of the investigation.
guarantees for Serbs in Steiner plan | 17:29 | FoNet
Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren