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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, August 13, 2000

We apologize to our readers for being unable to send regular briefings in the last three days due to technical reasons.

The Information Service of the SNC

  • Meeting of the SNC of Central Kosovo held
  • Attack on the store of Dragan Nikolic, member of the SNC
  • Threats against members of the SNC throughout Kosovo and Metohija
  • Father Sava speaks with representatives of the US Department of Defense
  • Personal commentary - Father Sava: It is easiest to cast a stone at the Bishop
  • SNC OF CENTRAL KOSOVO IS A PART OF THE SNC OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

    A meeting of the extended membership of the regional SNC of Central Kosovo was held today in Gracanica Monastery in the presence of 52 delegates of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija representing almost all locations inhabited by Serbs in the region of central Kosovo. The meeting was also attended by Bishop Artemije, the president of the SNC. The participants at the meeting discussed the current position of the Serb people in the region of the central part of the Province and it was assessed that security conditions remain very difficult despite positive efforts by KFOR and UNMIK to improve the position of the Serbs. The necessity of opening new local offices was especially emphasized through which Serbs working with local UNMIK administrators would be able to offer basic administrative services to the Serb people and tend to such local issues as health, education, refugee returns and employment within the framework of a single Kosovo administration.

    The meeting went on to consider personnel issues. Because Slavisa Kostic and his group continue to cause confusion among the people, together with Momcilo Trajkovic, the members of the SNC of Central Kosovo once again emphasized that this group CANNOT continue to falsely present itself as the SNC of Central Kosovo. Unfortunately, for the lack of any kind of constructive initiative and program, Kostic and Trajkovic and their colleagues from Mitrovica are continuing their activity exclusively in the direction of undermining the work of the SNC. That is why the international mission is developing cooperation exclusively with the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija and Bishop Artemije as the only credible representatives of the democratic Serb initiative in the Province.

    The acting president of the executive board of the regional SNC of Central Kosovo, Dragan Velic, was elected president of the SNC of Central Kosovo, while Predrag Vasic was elected president of the executive board of the SNC of Central Kosovo. The meeting also included discussion on the Airlie Declaration and support was shown for this document, the Agreement on Understanding and the Agenda for Co-existence as the basis on which cooperation with the international community should be built. The delegates once again confirmed that dialog and a rational policy of cooperation with the international community is the only path out of the difficult position in which the Serb community has found itself.

    ATTACK ON THE STORE OF DRAGAN NIKOLIC IN PASJANE

    Threats against members of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija and clergy of the SPC by Serb extremists

    Yesterday, on August 12, 2000 in the early hours of the morning in the Serb village of Pasjane, southeast of Gnjilane unknown persons threw an activated grenade at the store of Dragan Nikolic, a respected member of the SNC and co-had of the department of agriculture in Pristina. The activated explosive caused great material damage in Nikolic’s store. This terrorist act in a village inhabited exclusively by Serbs has caused great confusion among the local population since, according to initial reports of the international police, it is almost certain that the attackers were Serbs who were identified a few days ago as being armed infiltrators. Nikolic received open threats recently because of his participation in the work of the SNC and the interim international administration. An investigation is in progress and the SNC expects the international police to publicly name those responsible and to bring them to justice. It is unfortunate that the Serb people which is victimized by ! Albanian extremists is now becoming also the target of Serb extremists who wish to sow by their actions the seed of discord and inter-Serbian strife, as well as conflict with the international community.

    Information regarding threats against the members of the SNC and the Serbian Orthodox clergy by Serb extremists is also coming from other parts of the Province, especially from Brezovica and Velika Hoca where local extremists wrote an anonymous letter to the priest there ordering him to leave Kosovo by October 1. It is incomprehensible that an Orthodox priest, Archpriest Milenko Dragicevic, and his family who courageously remained with their people in this isolated Metohija village are now being expelled by those who were the first to flee from Kosovo and now are returning to sow the seed of discord and threats. Unfortunately, this behavior clearly shows that those Serbs who were not expelled by Albanian extremism are now being expelled by the extremism of the regime. It is well-known that a few months ago the priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Strpce, Archpriest Randjel Denic, was also threatened and that an explosive devise was thrown into his yard by local Serb extrem! ists, without doubt the same ones who later demolished the offices of the United Nations mission and thus caused twofold embarrassment for the honest Serb people of Sirinicka Zupa.

    Nevertheless, verbal attacks, calumny and physical threats will only serve to further threaten the SNC in its determination to continue its just battle for the honest Serb people of Kosovo and Metohija, and against every form of extremism no matter what its sources.

    FATHER SAVA SPEAKS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

    Yesterday, on August 12, in Gracanica Monastery, Protosyncellus Sava spoke with the delegation of the American Department of Defense which sought to familiarize itself with the opinions of the SNC regarding the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. Father Sava emphasized that one year following the end of the war the position of the Serb people as a whole remains extremely difficult and that attacks by Albanian extremists are occurring each day. During the most recent period it appears that the pressure against the Serbs is subsiding somewhat while there is an increase in inter-Albanian political violence, stressed the secretary to Bishop Artemije. Nevertheless, the decrease in the number of incidents is not so much a reflection of better security but of the fact that today Serbs can live somewhat normally only in their isolated enclaves which remain a tragic spectacle of Kosovo reality and a reminder to the international community that the goals of its mission have not been reali! zed, emphasized Father Sava Janjic at the end of the talks.

    PERSONAL COMMENTARY: IT IS EASIEST TO CAST A STONE AT THE BISHOP

    “SERB” LEADERS AGAINST THE CHURCH

    At a press conference held today (August 10) in Mitrovica, the representative of the regional SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica and the member of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Marko Jaksic, again attacked Bishop Artemije, accusing him of appointing “an Adventist missionary”, Petar Jeknic, as the person responsible for the development of the media and “advisor for democracy”, adding ironically that he was wondering “who is going to convert whom?” Similar accusations are also coming from Momcilo Trajkovic, who is not missing a single opportunity to attack his bishop and former close associate (as, for example, during a recent appearance on Nis TV when the Church was defended from Trajkovic in front of the television audience by Zoran Djindjic, the president of DS). Jaksic has publicly scoffed on numerous occasions the Kosovo “bishop and his little bishops”, as he terms Bishop Artemije and his associates, showing the face of an arrogant and vulgar atheist and causing embarrassmen! t to his party, the honest and faithful people of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).

    Of course, for lack of constructive arguments Jaksic and Trajkovic are continuing with their coarse rhetoric by attacking the reputation of Bishop Artemije in language which the greatest enemies of the Serbs can only envy. The fact that men who are representing themselves as Serb opposition leaders and anti-Communists before the people are attacking with so much venom an episcope who is supported by the Holy Synod of Archpriests and the Serbian democratic opposition is very characteristic. First of all, the accusation that Petar Jeknic is an Adventist is NOT true, and even if it was, are Marko Jaksic and Trajkovic, who are continuously slinging mud at the Church while failing to visit it on either Sundays or holy days, greater Christians than Jeknic, who is not only a baptized Orthodox Christian but also enjoys the confidence of Bishop Artemije and is faithfully assisting the Church and the SNC. Do those who are representing themselves before the world as democrats have any ri! ght at all to disqualify and insult anyone only because they do not like his religion or origin? In their newly discovered pro-Serb campaigning, there is almost no distinction between Jaksic and Trajkovic and their former ideological taskmasters. While such people needed the Church to wash themselves of their Communist past, they practically lived in its churches and monasteries only to later attack with the greatest of venom the same Church and those who offered them assistance when no one else would do so.

    Once and for all, the Serb people must open their eyes and stop chasing after those who are opposing the regime only so that they can replace it and assume its privileges themselves, while offering the people spite against the world and economic misery. When the Church warned the people what would happen as a result of supporting the regime, many did not believe it and called the bishop a traitor. Today, the bishop is again warning that some unfortunate Serbs continue to confront the international community and the entire world, thereby digging an even deeper hole for the Serb people, sharpening their unrestrained tongues not on the enemies of the Serbs, but on the Church which is the only Serbian institution which has remained the entire time with its people, in the most difficult place and in the most difficult time. What is more, instead of fighting for the survival of their people, these “democratic” leaders are sowing the seed of inter-Serb discord and violence together w! ith supporters of the regime. The question is how long the Serbian opposition will continue to tolerate such behavior on the part of those who pretend to represent the Serb people of Kosovo even in the Parliament.

    Where will the Serbian nation go and where will it end up without faith and reason? While Trajkovic shrieks ever more vociferously against the “theocracy” of Bishop Artemije, and Jaksic foams against “the Kosovo bishop and his little bishops”, it is the enemies of the Serbian nation and of Orthodoxy who have the most reason for joy.

    Protosyncellus Sava (Janjic)

    (Opinions expressed in this personal commentary are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija.)

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