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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 7, 2000

BISHOP ARTEMIJE TALKS WITH HEAD OF OSCE IN KOSOVO DAAN EVERTS

PRIORITIES

PRIORITY 1: REGISTRATION - REFUGEE RETURNS - SECURITY

Today in the monastery of Gracanica Bishop Artemije talked with the head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo and Metohija, Ambassador Daan Everts. Ambassador Everts informed Bishop Artemije and other members of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija who were present with the results of the local elections in Kosovo and Metohija and with the readiness of OSCE to organize supplementary elections in Serb areas at the beginning of next year in order to have elected representatives of the people. Bishop Artemije repeated the position of the SNC that the necessary conditions were not created in order for Serbs to participate in local elections even though this had been foreseen as a task under Resolution 1244. Therefore, the responsibility for the nonparticipation in the election does not lie with the Serbs but with those persons who for more than a year have permitted the rule of violence and ethnic terror by the Albanians. The holding of local elections under such conditions cannot under any circumstances be called free and democratic. Bishop Artemije insisted that in for eventual participation by the Serbs in supplementary local elections, three basic requirements must be met:

- First, REGISTRATION of all Kosovo Serbs must be conducted to include both those still living in the Province as well as those temporarily residing in central Serbia, Montenegro or abroad. In order for registration to take place, of course, it is essential that OSCE and UNMIK establish direct communication with the FRY government in order conduct a joint registration campaign in areas outside Kosovo and Metohija.

- In addition to the registration of the Serb population, the process of Serb refugee RETURNS must also be intensified as accurate lists of temporarily displaced persons will be available. Without enabling the process of refugee returns to their homes, the process of Serb participation in the political life of Kosovo and Metohija will not be possible.

- The issue of SECURITY and freedom of movement, life and employment remains a priority task, and without an improvement in conditions of life security for Serbs and other endangered non-Albanian communities, it is not possible to have free articulation of political interests and the holding of free elections.

The SNC has already started an initiative with President Kostunica for FRY state organs to actively participate in the process of registering the Serb refugee population as this was something which the former regime did not allow, which from a technical aspect also made it impossible to participate in elections.

The participation of Serbs in eventual supplementary elections must be fully coordinated with the FRY government and, prior to the organization of such elections, an agreement must be achieved among all relevant Serb political forces in the Province.

PRIORITY 2: APPOINTMENT OF SERBS TO MUNICIPAL STRUCTURES SHOULD BE POSTPONED

With respect to the appointment of Serbs to new municipal structures in Kosovo and Metohija, the position of the SNC expressed in formal contacts and at the Airlie House conference is that it is very important that Serbs are enabled to participate in these structures even though they did not vote. The special representative of the UN for Kosovo can, in cooperation with Serb political organizations, appoint members until necessary conditions for the engagement of elected representatives are created after the Serb elections. In accordance with this agreement, the SNC submitted candidate lists for municipal assemblies.

However, several problems have recently appeared which make this process more difficult and which the representatives of the SNC explained to Ambassador Everts.

- The SNC believes that with the political changes in Belgrade a new situation has been created and that an agreement should exist regarding the process of participation and representation of Serbs in municipal structures among all relevant Serb forces in full coordination with the government in Belgrade. The SNC does not wish to participate in this process prior to agreement with and without the participation of the legal and democratic organs of the country to which we belong. Therefore, the appointment of Serbs to municipal assemblies should be POSTPONED until full coordination and agreement of all democratic Serb forces in Kosovo and Metohija is achieved.

- The SNC is dissatisfied with the manner which UNMIK has proposed for the participation of Serbs in municipal governments in the municipalities of Strpce and Novo Brdo, where a significant part of our population resides. For example, approximately 70% of the population of Strpce municipality is Serb and about 30% is Albanian; however, UNMIK is proposing that representation be at parity (50% Serb representatives and 50% Albanian representatives) which is absolutely unacceptable to the Serbs. The SNC believes that multi-ethnicity cannot be built at the expense of the Serbs in Strpce, where the majority of the population is Serb, while, for example, Urosevac, Prizren and other cities formerly inhabited by Serbs are left without Serb representatives. The claims of certain ill-intentioned individuals who rushed to accuse the SNC of supporting such solutions and nominations under these conditions are absolutely incorrect. The solution for Strpce being proposed by UNMIK will lead to the dissipation of this small Serb enclave and the completion of ethnic cleansing of the entire southern part of Kosovo.

- The SNC believes that additional consultations between UNMIK and the Kosovo Serbs are necessary with regard to the election of temporary representatives to the municipal structures, especially in municipalities where Serbs form the majority. It is especially important that the Serb side is represented by political groups more oriented towards reform and democracy. It has been observed in several instances that some representatives of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) are appearing on lists as both independent representatives or even as members of the SNC just to secure the greater presence of old structures in the municipal assemblies. A similar problem also exists in other Serb areas. For areas where Serbs form the majority, it is therefore very important that supplementary elections are conducted as soon as possible when the necessary conditions are created so that Serbs will have representatives elected by the people.

It is IMPORTANT to note that the candidate lists prepared by UNMIK are not the lists of the SNC. Local administrators created their own lists on the basis of lists, proposals, discussions and their personal contacts with all significant Serb political structures.

PRIORITY 3: HOLDING OF SERBIAN REPUBLIC ELECTIONS IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA IS LEGITIMATE

At the end of talks with Mr. Everts, Bishop Artemije and the members of the SNC talked about the upcoming elections of the Republic of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija. Mr. Everts expressed great concerned with regard to the Serbian republic elections to be held on December 23 because in his opinion it is not completely clear whether these elections are acceptable from the perspective of Resolution 1244. The head of OSCE also believes that the holding of these elections might cause a stormy reaction by the Albanians as well as lead to new acts of violence.

It is the position of the SNC that the holding of these elections, despite the extremely difficult security conditions, is completely LEGITIMATE because Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of FRY and of the territory of the Republic of Serbia, said Bishop Artemije.

Without addressing the logistical problems of the election, which is a matter for the Republic of Serbia and UNMIK to resolve, the SNC believes that all citizens of the Province who desire to do so have the right to vote in republic elections in their place of domicile. The SNC is not a political party and consequently the Council cannot participate in the elections; however, members of democratic parties who are participating in the work of the SNC have the right and freedom to make their independent decisions regarding their participation in the elections and to realize their civic rights.

The SNC expects that in the event Serbian republic elections are organized in Kosovo and Metohija KFOR and UNMIK will ensure order and security in the same manner as they did when local Albanian elections were held.

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