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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, October 16, 2000
In today's press briefing we submit the text of the appeal which Bishop Artemije addressed to the public today:
One of the most sensitive issues which is equally difficult for all the national communities in Kosovo and Metohija and which is seriously slowing down political dialog and the establishment of mutual multiethnic confidence is the unresolved issue of imprisoned, missing and kidnapped persons from all communities.
Our Church and the SNC for several months have been making active efforts to resolve this issue on both sides but there has been no understanding from either the former state organs in Belgrade or from Albanian political leaders. Therefore, with the goal of reducing interethnic tensions and creating realistic preconditions for serious and effective political dialog, as the responsible representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the area of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren which was entrusted to me and as the president of the Serb National Council, I believe that the victory of democratic forces in Serbia and the arrival of Mr. Vojislav Kostunica as head of FRY has created the right conditions for the resolution of this issue in a just and generally acceptable manner.
I would like to take this opportunity to issue a PUBLIC APPEAL to responsible democratic representatives of FRY, Albanian political organizations and associations, as well as representatives of the UN mission in Kosovo, asking the following:
1. That the state authorities objectively examine all cases of Albanian prisoners as soon as possible and turn over to UNMIK all Albanian prisoners who are currently being held in prisons on the territory of the Republic of Serbia and against whom there is no objective evidence that they have carried out concrete criminal acts. State organs should also make available all existing information to shed light on the fate of Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija who are still listed as missing and whose fate is unknown.
2. That representatives of Albanian political parties and association submit to the international UN mission all available information regarding all missing and kidnapped Serbs, Roma, Bosniacs as well as all other persons missing in Kosovo and Metohija either during the war or during the post-war period as soon as possible, in order to explain their fate and to make their families aware of the truth regarding their loved ones. If these kidnapped and missing persons are still alive, we ask for their immediate release.
3. That UNMIK, which bears the legal and moral reponsibility for the territory under its jurisdiction in accordance to Resolution 1244 for the length of its mandate in Kosovo and Metohija, shed light on the fate of all missing persons as soon as possible and prevent further violations of human rights.
This process assumes the willingness of both sides to cooperate on the basis of fundamental principles of respect for human rights and universal rights of man according to which no person can be deprived of his freedom and kept under humiliating life conditions without a court sentence of guilt by legal and independent judicial organs.
In the name of God who created every man as a free and dignified being and gave him the right to life, I appeal for as rapid as possible a resolution of this important issue. The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija on their part are prepared as always to offer their active contribution in this process.
THE EPISCOPE OF RASKA AND PRIZREN
After the command changeover ceremony on the military grounds in front of the KFOR building, a reception was held at which representatives of the SNC welcomed the new commander on behalf of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija and the Church and expressed the hope that KFOR will contribute even more to the calming of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, actively protect the endangered Serb people and enable the full implementation of Resolution 1244. The ceremony and reception was also attended by Mr. Oliver Ivanovic on behalf of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica.
The SNC plans to schedule a working meeting with the new commander of KFOR forces as soon as possible in order to acquaint him with details regarding the position of the Kosovo Serbs and to discuss with him measures which need to be undertaken in order to improve the situation for our people and Church.
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