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The Information Service of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Gracanica, November 2, 2000

  • UN special representative for missing persons Henrik Amneus visits Gracanica
  • Commentary: To what extent is the independent commission of Richard Goldstone really independent?

    Today in the monastery of Gracanica Protosyncellus Sava Janjic spoke with the UN special representative for missing persons in Kosovo and Metohija, Swedish diplomat Henrik Amneus, in the name of the SNC. Father Sava informed Ambassador Amneus of the great concern of the Serb people in the Province due to the fact that for more than a year nothing concrete has been undertaken toward the goal of finding and freeing Serbs who have been abducted. The SNC is in possession of a list of more than 1,000 missing and abducted persons, the majority of whom disappeared after the end of the war. In the largest number of instances, these Serbs were kidnapped by members of the KLA, especially during the first several months, and this occurred in the immediate presence of tens of thousands of troops of the NATO alliance. The SNC has on numerous occasions supported requests for the freeing of Albanian political prisoners but unfortunately representatives of Albanian political parties have never made concrete efforts to find and free Serbs who have been abducted, emphasized Protosyncellus Sava.

    The release of Dr. Flora Brovina and work on the dismissal of the remaining political prisoners in Serbia represents a very encouraging step which, we hope, will be accompanied by greater readiness on the part of Albanian political representatives to cooperate with regard to the issue of the missing Serbs.

    Among Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija there is a firm conviction that a COLLECTIVE BLOOD REVENGE [krvna osveta] is in progress which in the tradition of this region is subconsciously not viewed by most Albanians as a crime but as a matter of individual and national honor. That is why there is almost no real resistance among the Albanians against post-war crimes against Serb civilians which are considered to be more or less the natural consequence of crimes committed during the war, the SNC representative, Protosyncellus Sava, noted with regret.

    Father Sava asked Ambassador Amneus to make an active effort in order for the abducted Serbs to be freed if they are still alive or at least buried in a dignified manner if they are not. Recently there has been an increase in the number of identified bodies of Serbs who previously were listed as missing persons and this has caused even more anguish among the families of the missing, especially keeping in mind that almost 600 bodies which have been found in Kosovo remain unidentified. Of special concern is the fact that the UN mission has done almost nothing to date in order to finding the missing even though there exists much testimony regarding the responsibility of individual Albanians, members of the KLA who organized the abductions and who perhaps are still keeping collective camps [sabirni logori] for the abducted Serbs.

    One of the first steps of the UN mission toward the resolution of this sensitive issue was the opening of an office for missing and abducted persons in Gracanica. For the Serbian Orthodox Church and the SNC, as well as for the entire Serb community, this issue is of the highest priority and something that is insisted on during the course of every meeting with international representatives. The SNC is in regular contact with the Association of Families of Missing Persons, the Humanitarian Law Center and the Red Cross. Mr. Randjel Nojkic is a regular member of the Kosovo Transitional Council committee for missing and imprisoned persons. This committee is currently expected to publish an album with hundreds of photographs of clothing found on unidentified corpses throughout Kosovo and Metohija.


    The so-called Independent International Commission on Kosovo was formed upon the initiative of the Swedish prime minister, Mr. Goeran Persson, and appeared in the public focus with its comprehensive Kosovo Report published on November 3, 2000. This commission, which is headed by Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who is well-known as the former chief prosecutor of the Hague tribunal for the former Yugoslavia during the period 1994-1996, is composed of twelve additional international members who are in some way involved with the subjects of the Balkans and Kosovo. This “independent” commission, acting on its own initiative, without any formal mandate from the UN or any government, has taken the responsibility upon itself of working on the issue of the future status of Kosovo only to come up with, on the very eve of the Albanian local elections and at a time rife with rumors regarding a change in the American position on the issue of independence, with a proposal for so-called CONDITIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF KOSOVO. The whole idea of conditional independence is based on the belief that the Kosovo Albanians will create a democratic society for all citizens which, in the opinion of the members of the commission, would be sufficient for the permanent resolution of the issue of Kosovo through the recognition of its independent status since, according to Goldstone, FRY does not have a right to Kosovo.

    However, it is highly unusual that such a belief should come about at a time when the Kosovo Albanians have almost completely succeeded, after a year and a half of ethnic terror and expulsion, in cleansing almost the whole of Kosovo which today is the only area in Europe where people are killed and live in isolation behind barbed wire only because they belong to a different language and speak a different language. The (in-) dependent commission says almost nothing regarding this and only laments over the horrors of war. If the Kosovo Albanians by chance had exerted any effort to secure a normal life in Kosovo for all citizens and to prevent violence against civilians of other nationalities, the proposal of the (in-) dependent commission might be understandable; however, the catastrophically poor respect for basic human rights and freedoms is the best possible REFUTATION of both the demands for full independence of the Albanians themselves and the proposal of the (in-) dependent commission. The members of the commission act as if they do not know that the greater part of the Province has been completely ethnically cleansed not only of Serbs but of all other minority communities while Serb property and Orthodox holy sites continue to be destroyed without mercy. The author of these lines can claim with complete confidence that not one member of this commission ever visited the Serb community under the spiritual guidance of Bishop Artemije or spoken with a single Serb representative in the international administration of Kosovo. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that Richard Goldstone visited the ethnically cleansed, Albanian city of Pristina yesterday to talk about conditional independence and meet with ONLY Albanian leaders and representatives of the UN mission while apparently finding it unnecessary to meet with representatives of the community which is living behind barbed wire only a few hundred meters from the office of Bernard Kouchner and the villa of Ibrahim Rugova.

    We pose the question to what extent such a commission truly independent and what are its tasks and true goals? Could it perhaps be an attempt to push through the idea of independence, which none of the official political circles of the West have had the courage to openly support, via an academic group which informs itself regarding problems in Kosovo exclusively from Mr. Rugova and Hashim Thaci. Among the numerous, more honest international representatives in Kosovo and Metohija there is no shadow of a doubt that a possible independent Kosovo would be an ethnically cleansed Albanian territory which would very quickly become the nucleus of a future Albanian federation or union of states as the politically refined and more subtle version of the idea of a Greater Albania. It is not difficult to imagine what an ethnically clean Albanian union with an increased birth rate, political appetites and organized crime would mean for Europe, especially for neighboring countries such as Macedonia. Instead of paying greater attention to crude violations of human rights, destruction of churches and monasteries, looting of private property, the rule of the Albanian mafia and prostitution, what is proposed to the world public as the best of ideas is in fact the legitimization of a process of ethnic cleansing which was previously punished with the bombing of Serbia.

    To the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija it is completely clear that, under the guise of rhetoric on a democratic and independent Kosovo, the project of an ethnically clean state is being prepared in which room might only possibly be found for rare, politically suitable members of national minorities. This has been shown by the behavior of literally all Albanian political factors not only during the post-war period but throughout the entire modern history of the Balkans.

    Hence the opposition of the Serbs to this idea is not opposition to the right of self-determination of the Albanian residents of the southern province of the predominantly Serb Republic of Serbia and FRY but opposition to the idea of ethnic cleansing, discrimination and violation of human rights and freedoms. Kosovo and Metohija cannot and must not be allowed to be under the repressive rule of any regime but can and must remain an autonomous and integral part of a transformed, democratic state to which it belongs by international law. Otherwise, the door will again be opened to processes of ethnic homogenization of areas in the Balkans.

    It is hardly necessary to mention that the commission failed to take into consideration an important postulate from the Rambouillet agreement which was de facto incorporated into UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and which states that the mechanism for the determination of the long-term status of the Province will be based not only on the Albanian people in Kosovo but on the entire population of FRY of which Kosovo and Metohija is a part. As well, the mechanism presupposes the validity of the Helsinki Final Act (Helsinki Accords) and international law according to which a part of the territory of a sovereign state cannot be separated without the acquiescence of that state, especially if it recognized by the UN as in the case of FRY. Therefore, we cannot refrain from drawing the final conclusion that the (in-) dependent commission is acting in accordance with neither the moral perspective, by ignoring the suffering of the Serbs and minorities in the Province and avoiding meetings with them, nor with the political and legal perspective, for having failed to take into consideration all of the relevant facts.

    Yesterday’s visit by Judge Goldstone to Pristina, therefore, is a clear indicator that what is involved here is yet another so-called independent group of people working under the powerful influence of the Albanian lobby, as is also the case with the International Crisis Group, historian Noel Malcolm and other radically pro-Albanian intellectuals who yesterday wept tears over the Albanians but now coldly turn away from numerous Serb, Roma and other victims because they do not fit in with their ideas of a free and ethnically cleansed Albanian Kosovo.

    Protosyncellus Sava Janjic

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    More information on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, the members of the commission and the actual report can be found at http://www.kosovocommission.org

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