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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 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 issues
  • SNC most strongly condemns kidnapping of two Serbs in Kamenica region
  • Destruction of graves is an act of supreme barbarism and primitivism

    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.


    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 international isolation!
    and the most shameful acts.


    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.


    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.


    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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