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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 15, 2000

  • Highest representatives of SNC talk with Dr. Bernard Kouchner in Gracanica
  • SNC of Leposavic is integral part of SNC, Nenad Radosavljevic in Gracanica
  • Reaction to announcement of organization of federal elections in Kosovo and Metohija
  • Dr. Rada Trajkovic visits Lipljan region
  • Fire near High Decani Monastery
  • Father Sava makes guest appearance on Radio Television Kosovo program

    Today in Gracanica monastery a meeting took place between representatives of the SNC and UNMIK chief, Dr. Bernard Kouchner and his closest associates. On the Serb side, participants in the discussion included Episcope Artemije, Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Nenad Radosavljevic (SNC of Leposavic), Dusan Ristic (SNC executive board), Dragan Velic (SNC of Central Kosovo), Randjel Nojkic and Protosyncellus Sava Janjic. Mr. Kouchner first advised Bishop Artemije and the members of the Council regarding the efforts he and the UN mission were making toward the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Understanding. Presented below is basic information in points corresponding to the points of the Joint Understanding.

    1.   With regard to security, the SNC was advised that a separate UNMIK special forces unit was formed immediately following the signing of the joint agreement. An operational plan has also already been prepared for special security measures which was submitted to the UNMIK police and KFOR for a final revision.

    2.   With regard to the participation of Serbs in the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), Dr. Kouchner advised the SNC that currently within the KPS there are 240 Serbs including those who will begin training as a part of the 9th class of graduates on August 21. A further 372 additional Serb candidates have been identified who will undergo training in accordance with the rules of the KPS. A special team of the KPS is visiting Serb regions in the search for qualified candidates.

    3.   In the judicial system there are currently 6 international judges and 3 international prosecutors engaged (Pristina 2/1, Mitrovica 1/1, Prizren and Gnjilane 1 judge each). UNMIK and the SNC are continuing their cooperation to identify suitable persons to serve as judges in Kosovo and Metohija. Dr. Kouchner advised Bishop Artemije of the positive outcome of the case of the Momcilovic's of Gnjilane, upon which Bishop Artemije sought that adequate compensation be provided to the innocent suspects who spent one year in prison.

    4.   The Joint Committee on Returns (JCR) continues to work on returns. In Slivovo 35 heads of households have already returned who are soon expected to bring their families and conditions therefore exist for the return of almost the entire refugee population in the villages of this region. Work is also continuing on projects in several other locations as well as with organization of visits by the displaced to their homes. It was jointly concluded that the participation of the SNC of Mitrovica in the work of the Committee represents a significant step forward and an encouraging sign.

    5.   With respect to the issue of missing persons, the SNC was advised that the search continued by a special commission for missing persons and the police even though there are no concrete results. Soon a foreign diplomat is expected to arrive in Kosovo who will be the special envoy responsible for missing and kidnapped persons and who will launch a wider political and diplomatic action with the aim of finding and freeing missing persons and prisoners.

    6.   Special progress has been made toward the formation and opening of local offices for communities. To date, 15 Local Community Officers (LCO's) have already been placed in those offices. Five additional new officials will assume duty in Serb regions within a few weeks. As well, special UN staff has also been recruited to meet the needs of these offices and work with the communities. The office in Gracanica, which employs several Serbs, is already completely functional and is currently resolving budgetary and salary issues within the framework of these offices. The joint delegations of UNMIK and the SNC will soon visit several municipalities in which additional offices are to be formed. Dragan Velic, the president of the SNC of Central Kosovo, was named director of the Office of Community Affairs within the Department for Local Administration. These offices will enable the employment of a certain number of Serbs who will receive an UNMIK salary. It is expected that a great degree of cooperation between the Serb population and the UN mission will be achieved through these offices.

    7.   With the goal of improving the life of communities in Kosovo, a task group will be formed which will prepare regulations on the rights of kosovo.netmunities. The activities of the representatives of the SNC in the Kosovo Transitional Council and the Interim Administrative Council are ongoing in this respect.

    8. Also ongoing are activities toward further protection of the religious and cultural heritage of the Serbs in the Province. The SNC remains consistent with earlier requests that care of Serb culture in Kosovo and Metohija cannot be entrusted to bodies in which Albanians have the main word. To date the Department of Culture has not made a single concrete step to repair the tremendous damage done to our churches and monuments.

    Members of the SNC expressed satisfaction with beginning results but emphasized that much more joint work and effort is needed for the situation in the field to improve more significantly. Everyone agreed that this is the best possible framework and foundation on which better conditions for the Serb community should be built and that is why the SNC will continue with its work toward this goal regardless of all difficulties and the still difficult security situation. Life conditions for Serbs can improve only if the Serb community seriously and responsible participates in joint efforts with the international community.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, Dr. Kouchner also spoke with the director of the Institute for Serbian Culture in Pristina, Mr. Djordjevic, who appealed to the UNMIK chief not to allow the takeover of the institute building which was built on church land. It is necessary to protect Serb ownership of the building so that the Institute can be renovated once conditions are right.


    Today Gracanica was also visited by Mr. Nenad Radosavljevic, the president of the municipal board of the SNC of Leposavic, who advised Bishop Artemije and Mr. Dusan Ristic of the decision of the SNC of Leposavic of August 10, 2000. The SNC and the municipal board in Leposavic have been working in constant coordination. With the permission of Mr. Radosavljevic, we are presenting here the statement in full of the municipal board of the SNC of Leposavic which was adopted and published in reaction to the illegal and unfounded initiative of the regional board of the SNC in Mitrovica, the goal of which was the political elimination of Nenad Radosavljevic.

    Municipal board of the SNC of Leposavic
    August 10, 2000


    The positions of the municipal board of the SNC of Leposavic with regard to relations within the SNC in Kosovo and Metohija and toward the international community concluded at the meeting held on August 10, 2000.

    1.   The municipal board of the SNC of Leposavic, along with others in the region, is a part of the regional board of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica.

    2.   The regional boards in Kosovo and Metohija must be integral parts of the province-wide SNC of Kosovo and Metohija.

    3.   The municipal boards, which are currently the smallest organizational units, select their own leadership, executive board and delegate their representatives in the higher instance.

    4.   The municipal boards decide independently in accordance with the specific characteristics of their environment regarding all key issues of local character, doing so without endangering general issues at the regional and provincial levels, nor the general interests of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, and of the country of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    5.   The municipal board of the SNC does not accept directives as a means of communicating between the higher and lower levels of the organizational structure.

    6.   The municipal board of the SNC recommends tolerance as a method for resolving interethnic conflict, and dialog and negotiations with the international community as the basis for resolving all key issues in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.

    7.   The municipal board of the SNC calls on all key actors (the Serbian Orthodox Church, the united opposition, opposition parties, the Academy of Sciences, the Royal Council, independent intellectuals) to assist in transcending the existing misunderstandings among the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija and beyond.

    8.   The SNC of Leposavic rejects the initiative of the regional board of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica regarding the dismissal of Nenad Radosavljevic as unfounded and harmful.

    The municipal board of Leposavic
    President Nenad Radosavljevic

    By his presence in Gracanica and participation in the meeting with Dr. Kouchner, Radosavljevic has once again given full support to the work on the entire SNC and shown that not all Serbs in the north of the Province reject constructive cooperation with the UN mission and that the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija is not a local council without support, but a council at the provincial level which coordinates the work of its councils from Gnjilane and Brezovica to Leposavic and central Kosovo.


    With regard to the most recent statements of the government representatives in Belgrade that federal elections will also be organized in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, the SNC consistently maintains its position that according to Resolution 1244 federal elections in principle can be organized in the territory of the southern Province as Kosovo is an integral part of the FRY.

    However, since the most basic of conditions, including freedom of movement and life, and freedom of the media and information do not exist, it is the opinion of the SNC that it is practically impossible to organize free and democratic elections. Under conditions where Serbs cannot freely go to the polling booths and where there is no normal activity on the party of political parties able to organize their campaigns, it is as absurd to talk about federal elections as it is to talk about the participation of the Serbs in the local Kosovo elections organized by the UN mission. The SNC continues to express the fear that behind the intention of the government to organize federal elections in the southern Province hides the intention of new manipulations of the electoral body in Kosovo, as was the case in previous years. That is why the SNC will not call on anyone to participate in federal elections nor will it stop anyone from participating in them who desires to do so. The possible nomination of Momcilo Trajkovic as the representative of Kosovo in the Serbian parliament will not be supported by the SNC as he currently does not have the support of the majority of the Serb people nor of the Church in this region and thus cannot be a credible representative of Serb interests.

    The Information Service of the SNC has learned from Susan Manuel, the representative of UNMIK, that to date the federal government has not requested that UNMIK organize and prepare federal elections.


    Dr. Rada Trajkovic, the president of the SNC in the Interim Administrative Council, surgeon and person in charge of social assistance and protection within the SNC, today visited the Lipljan region and examined a line of patients who gathered from several surrounding villages and from Lipljan itself. After the examinations, the endangered and the ill received a receipt with which they will be eligible for social assistance from UNMIK. Dr. Trajkovic used this opportunity to familiarize herself with the problems in the Lipljan region and to offer words of encouragement to people who live in isolation and constant danger and pressure on the part of Albanian extremists.

    Currently in the town of Lipljan Serbs are living in several smaller suburbs and visit each other by crossing through their gardens. Serbs avoid walking through the streets because of the constant danger which exists despite the strong presence of Finnish KFOR. In Lipljan and surroundings, the SNC and UNMIK are planning to open three local offices for national communities which are expected to make it possible to offer basic administrative services to the Serb population and which will be actively engaged in the normalization of life in this municipality. From the office of the local administrator in Lipljan, Dr. Trajkovic learned that soon a special railroad station for Serbs will begin functioning which was constructed by KFOR so that Serbs would not be exposed to danger by travelling to the main railroad station in the Albanian part of the city.


    At 2:00 p.m. the Information Service of the SNC received word from the Monastery of High Decani that the wood along the entire left bank of the Bistrica River in immediate proximity to Decani Monastery was in flames. At the present time the fire does not pose a danger to the monastery itself, and fire-fighting and KFOR units are engaged in putting out the fire. The cause of this fire has not yet been determined but the fear exists that it was an act of arson. The monastery of Decani is encircled by a very thick and beautiful woods which is the pride of this region. Only a month ago local Albanian municipal authorities cut down one part of the centuries-old woods in order to construct a water tower.


    Yesterday, on August 14, Protosyncellus Sava made a guest appearance on the Radio Television Kosovo contact program "Face to Face". The host of the program was RTK director Midgjen Kelmendi, and Fr. Sava's colocutor was Adem Demaci. During a one-hour discussion, the two colocutors exchanged their views of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, stressing the need to condemn and bring an end to all violence. Father Sava responded to the direct questions of the listeners by advising them of the already well-know positions of the SNC with regard to the freeing of prisoners and missing persons, the need for those responsible for war crimes and crimes committed during the post war period to be brought to justice, and the problems of the Serb community. The interesting thing about this program was the fact that the dialog took place in the Serbian language, the first instance of this in the programming of RTK after the end of the war with the exception of a short information broadcast read everyday by a Serb announcer. The organization of this program by the RTK as well as the participation of Mr. Demaci and Father Sava represents yet another in a series of concrete steps in fundamental trust between the communities in Kosovo and Metohija. One week ago, Father Sava was a guest on Radio Kosovo and responded to the listener questions for two and a half hours.

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