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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, October 11, 2000
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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