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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, July 17, 2000

  • Orthodox church in Pomazatin near Pristina destroyed
  • SNC initiates question of return of Serb apartments and property
  • TV Studio in Caglavica
  • SNC protests pressure on  SNC in Leposavic
  • Personal commentary: Elections in Kosovo and the Serb community

    During the night between July 16 and 17, 2000 at approximately 23:30 p.m. in a powerful exposition which was heard kilometers away, the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Ilija in the village of Pomazatin was leveled with the ground. The Church of St. Ilija was built in 1937 on the left bank of the Drenica River 12 kilometers west of Pristina. It was destroyed by Albanian nationalists (Balists) in 1941 and rebuilt in 1964. During the period between 1982 and 1989 the doors and windows of this church were frequently broken. In the summer of 1999, after the arrival of KFOR forces, the entrance to the church was damaged by an explosion. After this KFOR enclosed the church in barbed wire to protect it from further demolition as the damage could be easily repaired. Unfortunately, the Albanian terrorists did not spare this martyred church which was completely destroyed last night. According to initial information, an unusually large quantity of explosive was used which transformed the church, built of stone, into a pile of stone and rubble. Today the church was visited by a delegation of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren with Parson Radivoje Panic, Protosingel Sava Janjic and Archmonk Nektarije Vorgucic.


    At today's session of the Secretariat of the Kosovo Transitional Council, KTC members Randjel Nojkic and Dragan Velic initiated the question of return of illegally appropriated Serb apartments and property. At the request of the Serb representatives, this item will appear on the agenda of the next meeting of the KTC.


    As part of a joint project to establish independent Serb media by the SNC and five governments of Western countries, it is expected that an independent Serb radio station will be opened in Caglavica near Pristina. Work on restoration of the building is almost complete and it is expected that broadcasting will begin as early as next month. In the meanwhile, the European Union has donated equipment for a small television studio which will prepare television broadcasts for Serb locations. At first the broadcasts will be a part of the Radio Television Kosovo program and later an independent Serb TV station may be opened. This media project is being headed on behalf of the Serb community by journalist Petar Jeknic.


    Following the decision of the SNC in Leposavic to accept registration and elections, a flood of criticism followed from the regime and the SNC of Mitrovica. The SNC, of which the SNC in Leposavic is a part, expressed support for this decision which was announced by Nenad Radosavljevic, a leader from Leposavic, during a recent meeting with OSCE. These days we are witnesses to death threats and pressure coming directly from the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica. Such behavior on the part of the Mitrovica leaders is absolutely unacceptable and represents a violation of the agreement to refrain from attacks and to demonstrate tolerance achieved at the recent meeting in Belgrade. According to witness accounts from Leposavic, the so-called "guardians of the bridges" arrived from Mitrovica and began threatening the members of our Council. This is a group of people who work directly for Oliver Ivanovic and who are on the salary list of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) of Serbia. Such behavior on the part of the Mitrovica leaders of the SNC demonstrates that they represent a local branch of the regime and that, instead of defending Serb interests, they are applying pressure and threatening Serbs thus introducing dictatorship and the rule of terror.


    The position of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija on the elections in Kosovo and Metohija remains that it is impossible to organize free elections in a society in which freedom to live does not exist for all of its citizens. One year after the conclusion of the war and the arrival of the peace mission, life in Kosovo is still marked by violence, organized crime and the most brutal ethnic discrimination. Claims by some UNMIK officials that the Serbs are subjecting themselves to self-isolation by nonparticipation in the elections are, euphemistically, cynical because these officials are well aware that the Serbs were forced into isolation by the use of force by Albanian extremists and by the inability of KFOR and UNMIK to stop the violence of Albanian terrorist bands.

    Telling people who live in cages that they have put themselves in prison represents the acme of hypocrisy by the international community which has not shown any readiness to understand and improve the position of the Serb people. The position of the SNC is that it is necessary to secure two basic conditions for elections:

    1. the securing of basic freedom to live and move about for all residents of the Province; and

    2. the beginning of returns of a more significant number of our refugees to their homes.

    By fulfilling these two conditions the UN mission and KFOR would clearly demonstrate that they are prepared to implement the most important aspects of Resolution 1244. Unfortunately, neither of these conditions has yet been filled which means that the responsibility for the nonparticipation by the Serbs in the elections lies EXCLUSIVELY with the international community. The arguments of some international representatives that through elections the Serbs might improve their position are invalid, first of all, because municipal organs are not responsible for security. Security is exclusively within the jurisdiction of the UN police and KFOR, not of local municipal bodies. The question poses itself how it would be possible for those local Serb representatives who might possibly be elected to participate in the work of municipal structures when they cannot come within kilometers of the municipal building without a KFOR escort? Who will guarantee the security of these representatives inside the buildings themselves, who will ensure that multilingual services are provided within the municipality? Will KFOR be prepared to dedicate an entire battalion of peacekeepers who will provide twenty-four hour security for Serb representatives in municipal assemblies?

    The international community is well aware of this situation but it is necessary to transfer responsibility for nonparticipation in the elections to the Serbs themselves, who are accused by Mr. Everts and by Albanian leaders of self-isolation. By such positions multiethnic legitimacy will be given to elections which will not satisfy this condition because the same conditions for elections have not been created for all communities. Consequently, the meetings which OSCE organized at five minutes to midnight in Leposavic and Gracanica are only a part of an entire choreography intended to justify the essential failure of the international community to create minimum conditions for free elections.

    This is why the position of the SNC remains that it will seek a LEGAL EXEMPTION from the elections for the Serb community as whole until the conditions mentioned above are created. In the event that some parts of our community nevertheless feel that conditions exist in their territory for the holding of elections, the SNC will respect their decision but it will not officially call on anyone to participate in elections. For all those parts of the province where the Serbs are a minority in relation to other national communities, the SNC will strive to establish with UNMIK local office which will enable the offering of administrative services in places where Serbs live.

    Protosingel Sava Janjic

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