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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, October 11, 2000

LIVELY DISCUSSION IN THE KTC ON DEMOCRATIC CHANGES IN BELGRADE

Today in Pristina the regular meeting of the Kosovo Transitional Council was   held at which the main topic of discussion was the influence of new   democratic changes in Belgrade on the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. At   the very beginning of the meeting, Dr. Kouchner presented a report on the   Luxemburg meeting where the UNMIK chief expressed cautious optimism   following the victory of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. Bernard   Kouchner openly advocated the release of all Albanian prisoners in Serbia,   insisting that their release be stipulated by new sanctions against   Belgrade. He also emphasized that KFOR must remain in Kosovo and that the   world must continue to send economic aid to the Province.

Views of Albanian representatives

The Albanian representatives in the KTC supported Dr. Kouchner’s expose and   his demands, expressing relative cautious views toward the changes in   Belgrade. The majority of speakers emphasized that the victory of DOS and   democracy in Belgrade will not be significantly reflected on the concrete   situation in Kosovo. The need was discussed for Belgrade to return all   prisoners as soon as possible, for President Kostunica to address a public   apology to the Kosovo Albanians for crimes committed during the war. Some of   the speakers mentioned the need to collect war damages and the urgent need   for everyone responsible for crimes in Kosovo to be turned over to the Hague   court. Generally speaking, for almost all of the Albanian speakers, the   change in Belgrade is something which does not concern them directly because   it is a change in “a neighboring country” which they welcome in essence.   Some speakers questioned the democratic credibility of Mr. Kostunica,   accusing him of nationalism and extremism or even direct participation in   battles in Kosovo. The Albanian representatives at the session insisted far   more than usual on as rapid as possible resolution of the status of Kosovo   and the recognition of de facto independence which in their opinion   represents the only concrete situation in the field.

Views of the SNC

Speaking on behalf of the SNC at the meeting were Protosyncellus Sava and   Randjel Nojkic. Father Sava said that the SNC most sincerely welcomes the   victory of democracy in Serbia and FRY and that the SNC will be coordinating   its activities very intensively with the new Yugoslav government for the   greater good of all citizens of Kosovo. The spokesman of the SNC openly   criticized the speech of Bernard Kouchner in Luxemburg, stating that it   exclusively reflected the views of the Albanian segment of the population   and that it made no mention of the continued suffering of and discrimination   against the Serbs, the Roma and others. Nowhere does it mention the   continued destruction of churches which makes Kosovo the least civilized   part of Europe. Nowhere is it said that crime, drug smuggling and   prostitution rule in Kosovo together with the blatant persecution of   everything which is not Albanian, which makes our southern Province the most   lawless part of Europe. Father Sava especially objected to the stipulation   of the release of Albanian prisoners by the introduction of sanctions   against Belgrade. Sanctions are inhumane and harmful to the innocent   civilian population and it is unacceptable for the head of UNMIK to appeal   for the continuation or reintroduction of sanctions. The SNC supports the   release of all Albanian prisoners to UN authorities in Kosovo but only if,   at the same time, the process of finding or freeing the kidnapped Serbs   about whom no one knows anything is begun. The issue of the return of the   missing is a key one for the beginning of a dialog and the reduction of   interethnic tensions and that is why it must have absolute priority on both   sides.

Father Sava emphasized that in the future the participation of the Serbs in   Kosovo political structures will greatly depend on the readiness of Albanian   political parties to engage in dialog with the democratic government in   Belgrade as they no longer have the excuse for nonparticipation in dialog   that they had in the time of Milosevic. The dialog must commence as soon as   possible within the framework of the mandate of Resolution 1244 which   foresees, first and foremost, discussion of substantial autonomy prior to   final resolution of the status of Kosovo and Metohija. Transferred into   concrete examples, the possible participation of the Serbs in a future   Kosovo Parliament will largely depend on the readiness of the Albanians to   send their representatives to the republic and federal parliaments of FRY in   accordance with the Rambouillet Agreement, which is an integral part of   Resolution 1244. It is highly unlikely that any form of normal cooperation   among the communities in Kosovo will take place as long at Albanian   political forces do not accept all provisions of Resolution 1244 and   continue to ignore the fact that the task of UNMIK is to secure a political   foundation for the substantial autonomy of Kosovo within the framework of   FRY. Previously the numerous protests of the old FRY government because of   violations of Resolution 1244 were ignored because of Milosevic himself.   From here on out, conditions are being created for FRY to demand with full   moral authority that all provisions of this resolution be fully honored in   Kosovo and Metohija, and that conditions be created for the unobstructed   life of all citizens.

The representative of the SNC emphasized that there will never be peace in   Kosovo and Metohija if the most blatant discrimination against everything   that is not Albanian continues. For the Serbs in Kosovo and kind of   discussion regarding the independence of Kosovo is UNACCEPTABLE, first and   foremost, because this idea is not in accordance with international law,   contemporary integration process in Europe and because, based on everything   we have seen thus far, it represents an obvious project for the creation of   an ethnically pure Albanian state. On the other hand, the SNC is aware that   Yugoslavia and Serbia must be completely democratized in order to become an   acceptable home for all their citizens, regardless of ethnic origin. The   Council is firmly convinced that our people under the leadership of   democratic forces and President Kostunica will enable the creation of such a   political environment which will marginalize extremist demands for   independence even more. Under no circumstances can the international   community allow itself to unilaterally support the Albanian right to   secession which is directly detrimental to all the other ethnic community in   Kosovo and Metohija and extremely dangerous for the entire region.

In response to comments by some of the Albanians present that Mr. Kostunica   was photographed with a Kalashnikov during the time of the war in Kosovo,   Father Sava said that there were no indications that Mr. Kostunica had ever   supported violence and that such a photograph, taken at a time when our   country was at war and under attack by NATO forces, cannot be the basis for   unfounded political insinuations. Besides, added Father Sava, “in this room   there are so many people who until recently were wearing uniforms of the KLA   and now they are politicians and ‘democrats’. It is absolutely unacceptable   to have those who until recently were themselves carrying out acts of   violence in Kosovo lecturing the Serbian opposition which summoned up the   strength to eject Milosevic’s dictatorial regime in democracy”.

At the end of his presentation, Father Sava confirmed that the SNC believes   that all persons responsible for crimes in Kosovo during and after the war   should be brought to justice and once again repeated that the SNC most   strongly condemns both Milosevic’s crimes in Kosovo and the crimes of   Albanian extremists against Serbs, Roma, Bosniacs and other communities.

After the conclusion of the KTC meeting, Father Sava held a regular press   conference in the UNMIK Press Center where he repeated the above views of   the Council. He also emphasized that Bishop Artemije had met with President   Kostunica who expressed support for him personally and for his work. Father   Sava emphasized that one of the priorities of the SNC now is to work   together with all other Serb political forces in full coordination with DOS   and the new government to build a firm joint platform for further work in   Kosovo and Metohija.

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