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kosovo.net : News : Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

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, July 10, 2000

  • Bishop Artemije receives US KFOR commander General Tieszen
  • Upcoming talks on implementation of Agreement on Understanding between UNMIK and SNC
  • Bishop Artemije visits Finnish KFOR battalion - Church-bell from Slovinje returned
  • Report on problems in the education system in the region of Kosovo and Metohija (includes document)
  • Protest against "fatwahs" in Albanian newspapers
  • How long will our villages continue to be targets of mortar attacks?
  • Oliver Ivanovic rejects cooperation with the Joint Committee on Returns (includes supplement)

    Today in the monastery of Gracanica Bishop Artemije received General Tieszen, the commander of the US contingent of KFOR, and his political advisor, Shawn Sullivan. Bishop Artemije expressed his deepest concerns to the American general as a result of the continued suffering of the Serb population in sector East, especially in the region of Vitina and the village of Cernica. The American general advised Bishop Artemije that an agreement was concluded with the local population in Strpce and that KFOR was even prepared to increase the number of escorted civilian convoys. It is especially significant, observed the American general, that American engineers have already begun working on concrete plans for the repair of the infrastructure and schools in the region of Brezovica. From a security aspect, additional forces have been deployed in that sector in order to prevent infiltration by extremists.

    Another topic of discussion with the general were the new measures foreseen by the joint Agreement on Understanding of UNMIK and the SNC. Of special interest was the idea of a "neighborhood watch", i.e., watching of the local area and the community, according to which the local population would participate in observing the local area and in the process of informing the UNMIK civil police and KFOR of possible dangers. This system is highly developed in the US and in the West where the local population in communities receives means of communication and is appointed to watch over certain locations with the goal of achieving better security. Of course, these would be unarmed groups of civilians which would be organized exclusively by KFOR and the UNMIK police. General Tieszen informed the bishop that he is still awaiting concrete instructions from the head of the UN mission and KFOR command.


    The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija will be holding consultative meetings in the near future with representatives of UNMIK and KFOR regarding the official introduction of "neighborhood watches" in local areas inhabited by endangered national communities. In order to improve communications and reporting of danger of attacks by criminal groups, the introduction of telephone "hotlines" will be be proposed which the local population would be able to use to report perpetrators of crimes, as well as the possible introduction of monetary rewards for people providing information which would lead to the arrest of those responsible for crimes and terrorist attacks.

    Under circumstances where the court system is not functioning due to threats by the extremists, it is necessary to urgently find measures by means of which security organs can get to the organizers of violence and terrorist acts. SNC boards throughout Kosovo and Metohija are already working on actively recruiting young Serb men and women to join the Kosovo police in order to contribute to the improvement of security in local areas inhabited by Serbs together with the international police.

    Through a series of measures, especially by increased participation in the Kosovo police and by the "neighborhood watch" system, direct cooperation between KFOR, UNMIK and the local population would be achieved in realizing better security conditions. This would also enable confidence building between the peacekeeping forces and the local Serb population

    For the sake of the implementation of the Agreement on Understanding, the SNC will also ask for additional information on measures regarding deployment and engagement of special police forces of the UN police which would confront organized crime and terrorism. The most recent mortar attacks on Velika Hoca and Gorazdevac serve to further demonstrate that Albanian terrorism represents a key obstacle to the normalization of life in the province and the more active participation of Serbs and othe non-Albanians in the political process.


    Today Bishop Artemije visiteed the Finnish battalion which is part of the multinational brigade Center stationed in Lipljan. The battalion commander advised the bishop that Finnish soldiers found the church-bell which was stolen after the destruction of the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Slovinje near Lipljan in an Albanian house. After discussion on the general security situation in the Lipljane region, the Finnish colonel turned over the bell to Bishop Artemije to be transported to the monastery of Gracanica. Bishop Artemije requested an urgent continuation of the investigation of the destruction and looting of the church in Slovinje taking into account that the family in whose house the stolen church-bell was found was identified.


    The Information Service of the SNC is fowarding the report of the Task Group for Education of the local office of UNMIK in Gracanica in this daily press briefing.


    Report of UNMIK's office of education in Gracanica

    Gracanica, July 10, 2000

    The educational process in Kosovo and Metohija is extremely fragile due to, among other reasons, the lack of a defined position with respect to cooperation with the international organization. Last year in the month of September schools in Kosovo and Metohija began work. This beginning was accompanied by problems in organization (due to lack of personnel) as well problems due to the fact that security was extremely poor.

    With the beginning of the school year, cooperation was established with representatives of the international organization but at the local level. During the school year 1999/2000 we worked according to programs [of instruction] of the republic of Serbia even though there was much talk regarding imposition of plans and programs by UNMIK. The school year finished without major problems, and the children received their certificates and diplomas on official forms of the ministry of education of the republic of Serbia.

    Simultaneous ot the payment of salaries by the ministry of education, education employees received salaries in hard currency (German marks) on the basis of current pay registers which with each passing month grew to include the names of people who were not present in Kosovo and Metohija throughout the year; if they were present at all it was only once and for a very short time.

    The information which makes this report interesting is the fact that the salaries of these employees of the ministry of education of the republic of Serbia (these were certain supervisors) are considerably higher higher than those of the people who worked during the year under difficult condituons. In addition to not having lived in Kosovo and Metohija, these supervisors did not even find it necessary to appear at the beginning of the school year and provide some guidance for the work of teachers in their very first year.

    In the meanwhile, a problem arose because of the fact that the international community also offered the diplomas and certificates of UNMIK without, however, degrading the already distributed forms of the ministry of the republic of Serbia. The coordinator for education in the Kosovo district, Mr. Voja Rasic, refused to accept these certificates and diplomas and to forward them to schools for verification with the explanation that he did not have the permission of the sub-committee for cooperation with UNMIK, even though this would have practically verified the legitimacy of the plans and programs [of instruction] of the republic of Serbia, and opened the doors to enrollment at junior colleges and universities throughout the world, as well as in Kosovo and Metohija, when conditions are created for the work of these institututions, to the bearers of these certificates.

    It is impossible to explain to the sub-committee for cooperation with UNMIK and the ministry of education of the republic of Serbia that UNMIK for now is not planning changes in the plans and programs [of instruction]. These institutions, assuming that there is a problem with plans and programs [of instruction], reject every form of cooperation with the international community except the collection of salaries in hard currency regardless of the names appearing on the pay lists and regardless of how many times they reappear in various locations where these salaries are paid.

    Because of the fact that the coordinator and school directors are refusing to complete the certificates and diplomas of UNMIK which it considers to be a minimal form of cooperation, the international community has stopped all further salary payments to employees.

    The moral question poses itself to those employed by the ministry of education of the republic of Serbia why these minimal forms of cooperation are being resisted when they too are on the paylists of the so-called "occupying forces" (as they are called) and also paid individually, thinking that no one notices. This activity on their part is to the detriment of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija, although it is to their material benefit as well as of those who brought UNMIK to our region, perhaps so they could receive a pay increase, growing wealthy from the comfortable counches of a "free and democratic" Serbia without missing the opportunity to accuse others who cooperate with the international community of betraying the country. Betrayal at any rate belongs only to them.

    The coordinator for education of the UNMIK office
    Z.V., Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija


    Despite the recent case where an article was published in the Albanian daily newspaper "Dita" accusing the now deceased Petar Topoljski, an UNMIK official, of "war crimes" after which he was summarily kidnapped and massacred, the Albanian daily press continues its misuse of freedom of the press. In the July 5 issue of "Dita", an article was published which now accuses villagers from two villages in the Gnjilane region of allegedly participating in mass murders of Albanians in Drenica during the war. As well, two members of the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church are also named and accused of "forgiving the sins" of criminals. These newest "fatwahs" or public death sentences which appear as a method of public lynching in the media following the example of mujahedeen circles are yet another example of blatant violation of the ban on "hate speech" and the publication of unconfirmed and frequently malicious and incorrect news items which incite acts of violence and terrorism.

    The SNC most strongly protests against the appearance of such articles in the magazine "Dita" and asks that the UN mission and the international community prevent "public lynching" through the media. This kind of behavior is not the product of freedom of the press but of the terror of the strong over the weak who are unprotected and helpless to defend themselves and testify truthfully. The diocese of Raska and Prizren reacts with special vigor against accusations against our Church which never condoned violence and according to whose rules any form of violence is impermissible. On the contrary, during the war the Church actively spoke and acted against the violence: our monks protected and helped Albanian civilians and later Romanies and others who were victims of post-war Albanian terror.


    The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija most strongly protests the most recent renewal of mortar attacks against the village of Gorazdevac. After a series of mortar attacks against Velika Hoca, Albanian militants have again attacked the only remaining Serb village in the Pec district, Gorazdevac. This terrorist attack once again confirms that for the Albanian terrorists the war is not over and they see the future of Kosovo in transforming this province into a land of anarchy and ethnic terrorism. The international community must comprehend that measures must be taken to stop terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija just as is being done everywhere else in the world.

    The most recent example where two members of the so-called Protection Corps who are in fact extremists from the former KLA were freed after pressure by Albanian strongmen in Pec in addition to barricades and threats in front of the UN headquarters increasingly demonstrates that KFOR and the UN mission are becoming hostages of Albanian militant groups and mafia-like clans which rule with impunity in the western part of the Province.

    The terrorist attacks of Albanian extremists are also continuing against Romany (Gypsy) communities in Mitrovica and Stimlje. All Romanies have been expelled from the southern (Albanian) part of Mitrovica while they continue to live on the northern (Serb) part of the city. However, most recently they have no peace there either as a result of renewed mortar attacks. The Romany community in Kosovo has been literally decimated during the past year and the Romanies are targets of discrimination whereever they appear, just like the Serbs.


    The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija learned from the media that Mr. Oliver Ivanovic has again refused to join in the work of the Joint Committee on Returns of Serb Refugees. The Committee on Returns invited Mr. Ivanovic to participate in the work of the Committee without any further obligations and with the goal of better coordination of Serb and international efforts. Unfortunately this unyielding stance by the Mitrovica leader clearly shows that Mr. Ivanovic apparently does not care about Serb returns to Kosovo since he himself has admitted in the past that the only way of achieving this is through coordiantion with international organizations in the Province.

    Mr. Oliver Ivanovic frequently talks about the minimal results achieved through cooperation with the international community but he determinedly avoids mentioning whether perhaps greater results have been achieved through a lack of cooperation with international organizations and what are the propects for the Serbs if they are in constant confrontation with the entire world. The situation in Kosovo will never improve if we continue accusing the international community and the Albanians while we ourselves avoid contributing to an improvement of our lives. Criticism without constructive readiness to achieve a goal through joint effort unfortunately is not the method and the means to help the Serbs. What is more, such a strategy only serves to fortify the regime. By this rejection of cooperation Mr. Ivanovic has effectively sent the message to numerous Serb refugees in central Serbia and Montenegro that they cannot return as long as the international community is in Kosovo. In other words, that may well mean never.


    Information by FoNet News Agency published in the newspaper Danas on July 10, 2000.

    Kosovska Mitrovica (FoNet) - The Serb National Council of Kosovska Mitrovica yesteday rejected the invitation of the highest representatives of the international community in Kosovo and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija to join the Joint Committee on Return for Kosovo Serbs formed at the beginning of May.

    The president of the executive board of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica, Oliver Ivanovic, stated for Srna that that committee "isn't worth a plugged nickel because their results of the last two and a half months are worthless". "Why should be join something which has no value? We need to go from nothing to something and in that way to create a joint action," says Ivanovic.

    The SNC of Kosovo and Metohija advised two nights ago that a letter of invitation was sent to Ivanovic which was signed by the head of the UN civil mission, Bernard Kouchner, KFOR commander Juan Ortuno, representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Dennis McNamara and Daan Everts, respectively, as well as by the president of the SNC of Kosovo, the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Artemije.

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