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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, September 12, 2000

  • Fierce verbal duel between Rada Trajkovic and Hasim Thaci
  • Norwegian minister of foreign affairs visits Gracanica
  • Renewed court trial for attackers of priest Dragan Kojic
  • Concern regarding article in the London “Observer”

    At today’s session of the Interim Administrative Council of Kosovo at UNMIK headquarters in Pristina, a very dramatic verbal duel took place between the Serb National Council representative, Dr. Rada Trajkovic, and Hasim Thaci, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). At the very beginning of the meeting, which was also attended by the highest representatives of UNMIK, Thaci very fiercely accused Dr. Trajkovic and Ibrahim Rugova of preparing evidence against the leaders of the former KLA to be turned over to the Hague tribunal. Thaci also used the opportunity to attack Ibrahim Rugova as “Milosevic’s man”. Accusations of this sort have already become commonplace in the press close to the former KLA which is attempting to destroy the LDK by accusing it of cooperating with the Serbs as well as through increasingly intense political violence

    Thaci, who was visibly nervous, launched a separate attack on Rada Trajkovic, claiming that “Kosovo will never again be a part of Serbia” and that he would not permit it. Dr. Rada Trajkovic got into a discussion with Thaci and the fierce verbal debate lasted for almost an hour. Commenting on Thaci’s last statement, Trajkovic declared that “neither he or people like him who participated in the killing will decide on the status of Kosovo. The issue of status will be discussed by a democratic Serbia which will be recognized by the world and by democratic forces among the Albanians. Kosovo’s status will be decided on by the Kosovo’s status will be decided on by the strength and validity of political, historical and ethnic arguments, not by violence and terror.” Continuing the discussion, Trajkovic openly told Thaci: “The time of men who used weapons and death to decide is part of the past in Kosovo and Metohija. Murderers like you will not be decision-makers. Why are you so afraid! of the Hague?”

    In a continuation of her discussion, Rada Trajkovic drew a parallel between the leader of the former KLA and Milosevic who rose to power through violence and extremist nationalism and who stubbornly seek to retain power and their economic privileges which have, in the meanwhile, expired.

    “Unfortunately, in the recent past the people of the Balkans are going through a crisis of their own conscience because the commonest murderers and criminals are becoming heroes and idols of the people, respected according to how many Serbs the Albanian killed or how many Albanians the Serb killed. Consequently, common criminals are becoming idols on the basis of the number of lives they have taken from the opposing side but in time they begin to kill even among their own people because they are the ones who consider themselves to be the standard of patriotism,” emphasized Dr. Trajkovic. “This is apparent not only on the Albanian side but on the Serb side as well as I have learned through experience in the past decade. Ten years ago, Milosevic rose to power thanks to the suffering of the Serbs in Kosovo. He was strong and powerful because he truly had almost the entire Serb people behind him. Ten years later, Milosevic no longer has the support of the people but he is still po! werful and dangerous. Instead of the people, he has four power bases - a party army, the police, the finances and a clan of criminals who by protecting him also protect themselves. And now that man defines who is a patriot and to what degree and whatever does not agree with his standards of patriotism must disappear. That is the very reason why both Thaci and Milosevic are in power and why they seek to retain that power in the same manner, through the use of force.”


    Today Gracanica Monastery was visited by the Norwegian minister of foreign affairs, Espen Barth Eide, who discussed the current political situation in the Province with Protosyncellus Sava, Dusan Ristic and Dragan Velic, representatives of the SNC. The members of the council presented to the minister an entire list of indications that the situation in Kosovo was not significantly improving because of the lack of sufficient determination on the part of the international community to confront the terrorists who have institutionalized their battle plan by control of the local administration and economy and who are now carrying out ethnic and political terror against both Serbs and moderate Albanians in order to protect their positions. Also discussed was the need to undertake more concrete measures for the protection of Serbs in the areas of Kosovo Polje and Obilic, where the Norwegian contingent is deployed. Following the insistence of Bishop Artemije, patrols and check-points h! ave been reinforced but the situation remains extremely difficult because there is increasing pressure on the Serbs by the Albanians to sell their property and move out of these locations which until recently were almost entirely inhabited by Serbs.


    The Albanians who carried out an armed attack on priest Dragan Kojic and two seminary students in July will be retried thanks to the intervention of Bishop Artemije and the SNC. Namely, the Albanian judges already conducted a kangaroo trial where the Serbs were not even invited to testify; consequently, the attackers were set free and today they are walking around in Vitina. At the request of the SNC, Mr. Kouchner appointed international prosecutor Michael Hartmann to personally conduct this case and ensure that those guilty for this terrorist attack are brought to justice. The Serbs have already testified that they are the attackers who shot at them from a firearm and wounded the priest and two of his passengers. The attackers were arrested immediately after the attack and the SNC has learned from U.S. KFOR that the men were active members of Thaci’s KLA in the Vitina region and members of the infamous Military Police (PU) who, in their black uniforms, carried out ethnic clea! nsing and liquidations of Serbs. The SNC will continue to seek the engagement of international judges in similar cases because Albanian judges are for the most part either bribed or under threat of revenge if they issue a sentence for any of their compatriots, especially members of the former KLA which still causes fear and trembling in Kosovo and Metohija.


    The Serb National Council is very concerned regarding an article which appeared in the London “Observer” on September 10 in which Nicholas Wood, a reporter from Pristina, makes the daring claim that U.S. officials in Kosovo are withholding evidence regarding implication in criminal activities by one of the Albanian leaders, Ramush Haradinaj. According to the “Observer’s” claim, Haradinaj was one of the key collaborators of the US intelligence service in Kosovo during the war. In Kosovo, it is common knowledge that there is increasing conflict and armed violence between the former comrades in arms, the KLA and FARK (who are loyal to Ibrahim Rugova). According to the testimony of one of the war-time leaders of FARK and a former officer of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), Tahir Zemaj (published in several parts in the paper “Bota Sot”), representatives of FARK and Rugova’s political party, the LDK, have significant evidence of the responsibility of Ramush Haradinaj in an entire ! series of murders and crimes not only against Serbs and Roma but also against many Albanians. The recent shootout between Haradinaj and the Musaj clan near Decani, in which Haradinaj was wounded and then transferred to a US hospital in Germany, is a clear sign that this conflict continues. In the Kosovo Transitional Council, the representatives of the LDK have on numerous occasions accused Haradinaj, one of the favorites in the upcoming elections, his brother Daut and other members of his clan of organizing prostitution, drug smuggling and carrying out a series of crimes in the region of Metohija. Haradinaj recently visited Washington at the invitation of the US administration which the international press criticized in one of the previous issues. If it is truly proven that the US administration is withholding evidence on the crimes of a KLA leader, this may have very serious consequences for the entire political process in the Balkans, especially for the current US administra! tion.

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