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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 [ADDITION]

Gracanica, July 11, 2000

ON THE MEETING OF THE LEADERS OF THE UNITED OPPOSITION AND THE KOSOVO SERBS IN BELGRADE ON JULY 11

The representatives of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, headed by the president of the Council, Bishop Artemije, took part in today’s meeting of the united opposition of Serbia which was held in the offices of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and which included discussion of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija.

The most attention in this respect was devoted to various concepts for resolving the problems of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija.

Bishop Artemije, in speaking at the gathering, stated that the issue of the relationship of the Serbs in Kosovo and the united opposition was overemphasized. Between the Serbs in the central part of Kosovo and those in the northern part there exist no differences in goals, that is, to keep the Serb people in this region and increase security, as well as to create conditions for return. The differences arise, said Bishop Artemije, in the ways and methods on how to achieve this, and this depends on the position of the Serbs in these two parts of Kosovo.

“We in the central part of Kosovo and Metohija believe that the realization of these conditions depends exclusively on cooperation with the international community. Our brothers from the northern part of Kosovo have the same goal but they are not in the same environment as we are, and they believe that they can secure thee conditions themselves.”

“Our inclusion in the Interim Administrative Council as observers means in it we can influence the decisions that are made and thus improve the position of the Serbs but it does not mean the breaking of ties with Serbia. Because it is impossible to return the Serbs to Kosovo and Metohija without cooperating with KFOR, UNHCR and the international community. It is toward that goal that the Agreement on Understanding was recently signed with UNMIK. The Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija were suffering before we joined the IAC, during the period when we froze our participation in it and they are suffering today but now we can talk about that suffering before the whole world and the whole world will hear about it. Recently we presented our positions before the UN Security Council, and they were accepted and then defended by 13 out of 15 ambassadors,” said Bishop Artemije.

The SNC’s observer in the IAC and the vice-president of the Democratic Christian Party of Serbia (DHSS), Dr. Rada Trajkovic, stated that one should not identify the state with the regime. She further said that there could be no cooperation with those who sold her house and all her belongings, including items of sentimental value, in Kosovo. The tactics of the regime are the same here as they were in the Serb Krajina and Republika Srpska: to divide the remaining Serbs in Kosovo into two camps which will then be played off against each other. This focuses attention on these exchanges instead of on the issue of who brought about the fall of Kosovo. One illustration is the language which the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica uses when it attacks Bishop Artemije which is the no different than the language used by the regime media.

While the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica has material and every other form of support from the regime, the members of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica are left without their jobs and salaries, and their very physical security is threatened, as well. The very thought that a group of Serbs from Kosovska Mitrovica by their positions and actions can defeat the international community is humorous. The only solution that Dr. Trajkovic sees is in cooperation with the united opposition of Serbia. The opposition must behave in a political manner and consequently it needs to decide whether it supports the agreement with UNMIK and the accompanying cooperation with the international community.

The third member of the delegation of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija, Randjel Nojkic, emphasized that after the signing of the Agreement the first attacks came from the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica, to be followed by those from the regime and finally from the Albanians, and the language used by all was the same. Keeping all this in mind, he asked the question whether the regime cared at all about our people in the enclaves or whether it is only interested in the northern part of Kosovo.

PRESS CONFERENCE IN THE OFFICES OF THE DEMOCRATIC CHRISTIAN PARTY OF SERBIA

ALLIANCE FOR CHANGES SUPPORTS AGREEMENT SIGNED BY BISHOP ARTEMIJE AND KOUCHNER

First, Randjel Nojkic commented on the existing regime and said:

It is very clear to everyone that those who brought us into this situation cannot get us out of it. They cannot do this, above all, because of the fact that the international community does not want to cooperate with them. This was very clearly visible during our visit to Washington and New York where we were received by the international community as a relevant party. I must tell you something which is also very important and that is that the agreement which was signed by Bishop Artemije and Mr. Kouchner is supported first and foremost by the US because this agreement was discussed and the American administration was present almost up to the time of the signing of the agreement. This gives us confidence that this agreement will be realized. If nothing else, for the first time in the history of the Serbian people, I mean, the history after the arrival of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, for the first time after all the conflicts and destruction of Yugoslavia, the Serbs partic! ipated in the creation of an agreement as equal partners.

Vladan Batic presented the position of the Alliance for Changes (SZP):

Before the meeting of the opposition a meeting of all the members of the political and promotional team of the SZP took place and we proposed several things to the united democratic opposition with the wish to overcome the differences among the representatives of the Serb people of Kosovo and Metohija.

The first conclusion and first proposal of the SZP was to publicly and transparently sign and publish a statement by which the representatives of the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija will advise that Slobodan Milosevic and his regime, together with Albanian extremists, is exclusively responsible for everything that has happened in Kosovo and Metohija; furthermore, that without democratic changes in Serbia and the creation of a free and democratic Serbia, no problem in this region, including the problem of Kosovo and Metohija, can be resolved; and that the united democratic opposition will invest all of its energy into changing the government, winning the upcoming elections to change the regime in Serbia and that that is the only way to help the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija.

Our second conclusion is to create an agreement to not attack each other, a gentleman’s agreement, an agreement on mutual “fair play”.

The positions of the Serbs in the enclaves and the Serbs in the north of Kosovo and Metohija are quite different and their positions, in the final analysis, can actually be different if they are striving toward the same goal. However, no one has the right to disqualify the representatives of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija headed by the right reverend Bishop Artemije, who are the greatest victims and whose lives are in direct danger each and every day. We ask that those who disqualified and discredited, first and foremost, Bishop Artemije without choosing their words apologize and ask for his forgiveness.

And finally the SZP supports the Agreement which Bishop Artemije signed with Bernard Kouchner, and our proposal is that it be supported by the entire democratic opposition because it is the embryo of future Serb self-government in Kosovo and Metohija. Because of the other responsibilities of Bishop Artemije and the representatives of the SNC they must leave now because of their escort, but the discussion is still in progress and we will see what the conclusion of the united democratic opposition will be. Therefore, these were the positions and conclusions of the complete political and promotional team of the SZP.

Bishop Artemije then took the floor:

Kosovo and Metohija throughout our history for 600 years has been one continuous Vidovdan where it has been demonstrated, just as it was at that first Kosovo Polje (Kosovo Field) 611 years ago, who is loyal and who is disloyal. Kosovo and Metohija for centuries, to this very day, have been the touchstone for the conscience of every Serb, whether he was involved in politics or not - what position did he take toward Kosovo. Today, I am afraid that Kosovo and Metohija may again become the apple of discord among the democratic opposition, which is united for now; whether it will remain united tomorrow at least as far as Kosovo and Metohija are concerned remains to be seen from the conclusions which today’s gathering is expected to adopt. In any case, on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija the Serbs can either unite and thus defend Kosovo and Metohija, and Serbia, and all things Serbian, or we will disappear not only from Kosovo but from all of our historic locations as well. The ques! tion is to be or not to be and we expect the answer to that question today from the united democratic opposition of Serbia. I would like it to emerge united with respect to the very things that you, Mr. Batic, said in your three points with which you would show support for the position of the Serbs from Kosovo which is the only way for our survival in Kosovo and Kosovo’s in Serbia. If this does not come about, then there will be no united democratic opposition.

In response to a reporter’s question: “If the goal of the Serbs in Kosovo is the same, why don’t you at least come to an agreement on crucial issues such as participation in international organizations; why don’t you try to coordinate among yourselves on this issue?” Dr. Trajkovic responded: “Mr. Oliver Ivanovic is under the control of the regime in Belgrade, an agreement simply cannot be found. There was an agreement between us not to attack each other, if we think differently, different politics - you absolutely cannot come to an agreement. We signed this agreement on local self-government; the very next day they attacked us for making it with Thaci and it was supposedly some sort of farce of Mr. Thaci’s withdrawal from the institutions. On the political scene in Kosovo, among the few Serbs remaining in Kosovo you have, in fact, two options. One option is steadfastly opposed to the regime and living in very difficult circumstances in comparison with the regime which every da! y anonymously, directly or indirectly, is threatening even with the physical liquidation of people who are sitting here, while existentially all of us have already lost our salaries. You have a group which has absolutely freedom of movement, which has no problems in travelling and communicating throughout Serbia. You have a group which is demonized by the state media, you can look at a copy of ‘Politika”, the reports of Tanjug. You have a group of SNC in the north which has media logistics through ‘Politika’, through RTS (Serbian Radio Television), statements through Tanjug, and they also have material support from the regime. It is absolutely absurd to connect those two groups. Here you also have Mr. Marko Jaksic and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) group which I know to be oppositionistically disposed toward the regime. But they are very careful because they are afraid that a hard-line opposition stance or refusal to accept assistance would result in their abandonment an! d that the result of that would be the cleansing of Serbs f! rom the north. It means the withholding of support by the regime out of fear of losing territory. I think that they are silent now but the time will come when they will start to talk oppositionistically at the moment when they determine that the regime cannot ruin their situation in the field.”

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