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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, August 14, 2000
Bishop Artemije and Dr. Rada Trajkovic talk with General Juan Ortuno
SNC will not send its representatives to round table in Zvecan
Bishop Artemije receives representative of Italian Parliament for defense
SNC most strongly condemns kidnapping of two Serbs in Kamenica region
Destruction of graves is an act of supreme barbarism and primitivism
BISHOP ARTEMIJE AND DR. RADA TRAJKOVIC TALK WITH KFOR COMMANDER
Problems in Zvecan and Trepca discussed
Today in the residence hall of Gracanica Monastery a meeting was held between
Episcope Artemije and Dr. Rada Trajkovic with General Juan Ortuno, the
commander of the KFOR forces. At the very beginning of the conversation,
General Ortuno explained to Bishop Artemije that he was misquoted in a
recently published report appearing in the Albanian press which led to
what he called “unjustified criticism by the SNC”. General Ortuno repeated
to Bishop Artemije that he completely supports Resolution 1244 and that
he did not allude to the issue of resolving the status of Kosovo. What
is more, General Ortuno expressed his open support for the SNC which is
cooperating with the international community and actively participating
in political dialog, and expressed the hope that the cooperation of the
Council with KFOR will expand even further.
In further talks Bishop Artemije and General Ortuno separately considered
the issue of security and better cooperation between the Serb community
and KFOR with the goal of returning the displaced Serbs. Also discussed
separately were problems with regard to the Trepca plan in Zvecan. General
Ortuno presented to the representatives of the SNC at length KFOR’s view
of the problem, stressing that the main reason for the takeover of the
Trepca plant by KFOR forces was “an environmental pollution problem” and
the need to place filters as soon as possible which will enable the continuation
of production. General Ortuno repeated that all Serb workers will receive
their regular salaries during the period of construction and that there
is no cause for concern. Unfortunate, said Ortuno, UNMIK was unable to
come to an agreement on these issues with the Serb administration of Trepca’s
plant and that it was decided to place the plant under KFOR control which
was carried out last night.
Representatives of the SNC repeated their view that all problems should
be resolved by dialog and that the takeover of the Trepca plant under UNMIK
control must not be used as a means of resolving other problems in the
Mitrovica region by force, especially to the detriment of the Serb population.
The SNC remains consistent in its view that all Kosovo Albanians who lived
there previously should be allowed to return to the northern part of Mitrovica;
however, at the same time, all expelled Serbs should also be allowed to
return to their homes not only in the southern part of Mitrovica but to
all other parts of the Province, and to all plants and institutions where
our people were formerly employed, as well.
SNC WILL NOT SEND ITS REPRESENTATIVES TO ROUND TABLE IN ZVECAN
The leadership of the SNC has made the decision that representatives of
the Council will not go to Zvecan to participate in the planned round table
organized by Mr. Oliver Ivanovic and the regional Council of Kosovska Mitrovica.
As has been the case on many previous occasions, this meeting was not prepared
for in an adequate manner and in the meanwhile, during several unofficial
and official contacts, a significant drawing nearer in viewpoints did not
ensue. On the other hand, attacks on the SNC by Mr. Jaksic and Mr. Trajkovic
continue. In their invitation, which was delivered to Bishop Artemije yesterday
by an UNMIK representative, the organizers of this gathering called the
Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija by the name of the Serb National
Council of Gracanica which demonstrates that they are negating the very
name and reputation of the Council. In addition to this, the title given
by the signatory is that of the organizer of the Serb National Council
of Northern ! Kosovo, even though it is well-known that Mr. Ivanovic does
not have absolute influence over everyone in the north of the Province.
At a recent meeting of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija in Gracanica participants
included representatives of the local SNC boards of Leposavic, Zvecan and
Zubin Potok who are not working with Oliver Ivanovic and his Council. In
addition to this, it is illusory to talk about a common platform for Kosovo
and Metohija when the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija adopted a common platform
last fall in the presence of both representatives from Mitrovica as well
as Mr. Trajkovic. Why is a new platform being called for now?
It is also absurd to talk about the improvement of the position of the
Serb people in the Province when the Council from Mitrovica and Mr. Trajkovic
continue to be negatively disposed toward the participation of the SNC
of Kosovo and Metohija in the interim administration as well as toward
the Agenda on Co-existence, the Agreement on Understanding and the recent
Airlie Declaration. These documents represent the concrete obligations
of the international community under these conditions and cannot be ignored
and the whole matter put back several months. Also, Serb returns have begun,
no matter how humbly and symbolically, to Slivovo as a direct result of
the work of the Joint Committee on Returns which the SNC at first stubbornly
ignored only to finally accept participation in its work.
The view of the SNC remains that dialog is always desirable but it must
be honest, constructive and realistic. It must be founded on concrete facts,
not on empty promises and spite. For the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija, cooperation
with the international community does not signify agreement with everything
that the international mission is doing in Kosovo but first and foremost
a preparedness for open political battle and active efforts to help is
people within the framework of international interim institutions which
are foreseen by Resolution 1244. The negation of the reality of the presence
of the international mission and KFOR, regardless of their lapses to date,
can in no way be the basis for some sort of common platform nor a strategy
for a better future. It is unnecessary to repeat how erroneous is the idea
of Mr. Trajkovic who wishes to coordinate this platform with that of the
same regime which led the Serb people into suffering, the country into
and the most shameful acts.
BISHOP ARTEMIJE RECEIVES REPRESENTATIVE OF ITALIAN PARLIAMENT FOR DEFENSE
In the afternoon hours Bishop Artemije received Mr. Benet (sp?), the representative
of the Italian Parliament for defense issues who traveled to Kosovo and
Metohija to visit the representatives of the Italian contingent. The bishop
advised his eminent Italian guest of his view of the situation in Kosovo
and emphasized that after the war, freedom in Kosovo came only to the Albanians.
The Serbs and other non-Albanian communities live under the constant repression
of extremist Albanians who continue to wage their campaign of terror and
discrimination. Bishop Artemije placed special emphasis on the need for
returns of displaced Serbs to the region of Metohija, to the Pec, Istok
and Decani areas. Special mention was made of the region between Istok
and Klina where there are several ethnically pure Serb villages which remain
abandoned. Currently in the Italian sector there are almost no Serbs with
the exception of five old ladies in Djakovica, twenty-odd monks in Decani,
the nuns in!
the Pec Patriarchate and Gorilac and a scant few remaining Serb villages:
Gorazdevac, Crkolez and Suvi Do. The bishop emphasized that far greater
decisiveness must be shown in the battle against organized violence by
extremist Albanians who are targeting not only Serbs but also Romanies,
Bosniacs and moderate Albanians. Also emphasized was the need for better
protection and securement of the state borders of the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia in the direction of Albania, and prevention of further importing
of weapons to the territory of the southern Province.
SNC MOST STRONGLY CONDEMNS KIDNAPPING OF TWO SERBS IN KAMENICA REGION
The SNC most strongly condemns the kidnapping of Goran Stankovic (19) and
Zoran Tomic (26) who disappeared last Saturday on the road between the
villages of Domorovce and Odanovce while going to buy fuel for their tractor.
This most recent instance of kidnapping of two young Serb by Albanian extremists
represents a crime whose perpetrators must be found immediately and the
snatched Serbs freed. Special responsibility for the finding of the kidnapped
men and the arrest of those responsible lies with the local forces of Russian
and American KFOR.
DESTRUCTION OF GRAVES IS AN ACT OF SUPREME BARBARISM AND PRIMITIVISM
The SNC received with regret and sorrow information regarding the destruction
of almost 500 Serb Orthodox graves in the cemetery in southern Mitrovica.
To date the Church and the Council have received a multitude of information,
especially from Metohija, regarding the systematic destruction and desecration
of graves. In many locations our cemeteries are filled with great quantities
of garbage which the Albanians are transporting there from the cities,
thus creating garbage dumps in our holy places. In addition to the systematic
destruction of churches and cultural monuments, the desecration of graves
represents an act of supreme barbarism and primitivism, and shows that
the vision of the future of Albanian extremists is not only anti-cultural
and anti-civilizational but also anti-European, since European culture
and civilization rest on the rich cultural and spiritual legacy of Orthodox
Christianity of the East and West. Such acts demonstrate that Kosovo is
increasingly going ! in the direction of the most radical anti-Christianity
and culturally growing distant from Europe where it belongs by virtue of
its geography. Albanian leaders and representatives of religious communities
must most strongly condemn such behavior on the part of some of their compatriots
who are causing shame not only to their people but also to the faith to
which they belong.
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