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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, October 18, 2000
Mr. Nash expressed the wish to enable the registration process for all Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija in cooperation with the new leadership of FRY thus creating the possibility for repeat local elections in the foreseeable future in those municipalities where the majority of voters will not participate in elections (municipalities with a Serb majority) in order to achieve [political] structures which are chosen by the people. Bishop Artemije also repeated that in order to achieve participation in elections it is essential to speed up and increase the process of returns for expelled Serbs as the present slowness in resolving this issue is one of the main reasons for the Serb refusal to participate in this round of Kosovo municipal elections. Elections can be participated in only under conditions of security, freedom and dignified life which should be provided by the UN mission.
The SNC of Kosovo and Metohija, in collaboration with its colleagues from the north and especially with the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica, will work on preparing a list of candidates for municipal bodies in order to enable the normal functioning of municipal structures during the transition period. As well, the FRY government is expected to provide support to Serb judges to become more actively engaged in the judicial system of Kosovo and Metohija and thus contribute to an increase of the number of judges and judicial council members in the region.
Mr. Nash and Bishop Artemije agreed that the formation of local community offices for Serbs is very important in locations where their numbers are reduced and where conditions do not exist for freedom of living and work. This was foreseen as far back as the end of last year by the SNC’s and UNMIK’s Agenda for Coexistence.
The SNC remains consistent in its position that the problems of northern Kosovo as a whole must be resolved primarily with Serb representatives of that region. Toward this end, the SNC and its members will contribute to this process in the spirit of tolerance and friendship.
Bishop Artemije, Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Dusan Ristic and Dragan Velic acquainted the Italian general and his associates with the problems faced by the Serb people in the Province. Emphasis was also placed on the previous good cooperation with General Ortuno and the very important results achieved by Operation Trojan in the region of central Kosovo and Metohija. Hence, the assistance which KFOR is expected to continue to provide in the future with the process of returns and securing of better security conditions for the Serbs is of special importance for the SNC. Another important priority is the development of independent communications, especially the extension of the railway line Mitrovica - Kosovo Polje toward Lipljan and Gracanica as well as the transformation of the roadway Gracanica - Pristina - Podujevo into a protected highway to be used by all citizens for safe travel.
Also discussed was the need for KFOR assistance with better organization of the harvest, procuring of seed for planting and fuel for farmers.
General Cabigiosu on his part emphasized that the task of KFOR was to provide security for all citizens and that he would make a special effort to protect cultural and religious monuments. The meeting participants agreed that under conditions where a democratic government exists in Serbia, there are realistic conditions for good cooperation by the FRY government and the Yugoslav Army with the UN mission and KFOR in Kosovo and Metohija.
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