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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, November 9, 2000
Today Strpce municipality was visited by a delegation of the SNC headed by Bishop Artemije. The delegation also included Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Randjel Nojkic and Dragan Velic.
The purpose of this visit was the great concern of the SNC due to the UNMIK proposal that 17 Serb municipal officials be joined by an equal number of Albanians who are members of Thaci's PDK. The SNC has opposed this decision from the start because it has constantly insisted that eventual participation by the Serbs in the municipal structures of Kosovo and Metohija cannot be detrimental to the Serb people.
Representatives of the SNC spoke before a large gathering of people as well as will Serb representatives of Strpce municipality. Afterwards, a meeting was also held with UNMIK's municipal administrator and the position of the SNC was explained to him. Bishop Artemije told the gathered people that the SNC is in complete solidarity with the Serb people of Strpce and that under no circumstances can UNMIK be permitted to build multiethnicity only in those municipalities where Serbs are in the majority while Urosevac, Prizren, Pec and other cities remain ethnically cleansed and almost without a single Serb.
During the meeting with the Serb representatives of Strpce municipality and members of the SNC in this municipality, a possible solution which would enable Serbs to have their own self-government in the municipality while Albanians would realize their rights through a local office in the municipal area where Albanians live was discussed. The reason for this solution is the security situation which is very unfavorable for the Serbs. The bringing of Albanians to Strpce at any price would cause the Serb population to move away.
It is the opinion of the SNC that a similar solution should be found for Novo Brdo municipality where the attempt is being made to introduce in similar fashion a mixed municipal government that is detrimental to the Serbs.
The Serbs are prepared to participate in municipal structures only if they are able to guarantee the survival of our people in areas where they are living, as well as the return of refugees.
In the afternoon hours, Dr. Bernard Kouchner organized a meeting in the UNMIK building with the most significant Serb representatives of Kosovo and Metohija in order to discuss with them the participation of the Serbs in municipal self-government through representatives who would be appointed by the UN mission. In addition to representatives of UNMIK, the meeting was attended by representatives of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija (Bishop Artemije, Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Randjel Nojkic, Dragan Velic and Father Sava Janjic); the representative of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica, Oliver Ivanovic; and the representative of the Serbian Resistance Movement (SPOT), Slavisa Kostic, along with two other members of that party. Unfortunately the meeting was not attended by members of the SNS (the Serbian National Assembly, members of the Socialist Party of Serbia or SPS) even though they were invited.
All Serb representatives demonstrated a high degree of consensus in their firm position that it is impossible to demand that the Serbs send their appointed representatives to municipal assemblies without prior consultations with President Kostunica and further elaboration of existing disagreements with respect to some of the municipalities.
"With the victory of democracy in Serbia, a new time has come in which Kosovo Serbs can no longer act completely independently of the democratic government of the country to which they belong," stressed Bishop Artemije. He also emphasized that the participation of Serbs in municipal assemblies should be postponed until consultations with Belgrade are carried out and modalities of Serb participation in local government in the Province are clarified.
Mr. Oliver Ivanovic stated that a separate arrangement is necessary for Mitrovica which would reflect the unique situation in this northern Kosovo municipality. The Serbs in Northern Mitrovica should be enabled to resolve their issues independently and a common life on an equal basis should be built on mutual cooperation between the two assemblies in that municipality. Ivanovic was especially critical of the position of UNMIK with respect to establishing mixed municipal governments in Strpce and Novo Brdo and assessed it as unacceptable and detrimental to the Serbs. It is necessary to negotiate acceptable solutions, stressed Ivanovic. Slavisa Kostic, speaking on behalf of SPOT, expressed support for the words of his two predecessors and emphasized that coordination of activities with authorities in Belgrade is essential.
On the basis of discussion, it was demonstrated that representatives of these Serb organizations in essence accept cooperation with the international community and participation in common establishment of local organs of municipal government; however, it is necessary to first find the right, acceptable modalities for this participation in coordination with the government in Belgrade and UNMIK. Towards that end, it was decided that the representatives of the Serbs are to meet again with Mr. Kouchner after talking with President Kostunica and to continue talks on modalities of participation and organization of municipal governments in mixed and compact Serb municipalities. Another priority issue is that of registration and supplementary elections for Serbs which UNMIK is planning first in entirely Serb northern municipalities.
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