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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 1, 2000

  • SNC delegation visits Strpce, Velika Hoca and Orahovac
  • Hasim Thaci distances himself from Declaration at Airlie House
  • New meeting of the Joint Committee on Returns
  • On the Federal elections

    Today the delegation of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, including Dusan Ristic, president of the executive board of the SNC, Randjel Nojkic and Dragan Velic visited Strpce, Velika Hoca and Orahovac. In the municipality of Strpce the SNC representatives spoke with Mr. Matuzur Rahman (Bangladesh), the international administrator for Strpce, and his colleagues and acquainted them with the basic positions of the SNC and the principles adopted in the Declaration from Airlie House. Mr. Rahman showed great understanding for the platform of the National Council and agreed that the members of the SNC should actively participate in the work of the interim municipal administration in Strpce. To date, the representatives of the Socialist Party of Serbia had an exclusive monopoly over this municipality. Mr. Rahman demonstrated considerable admiration for the policies of Episcope Artemije and his efforts to enable the survival of his community in Kosovo and Metohija throug! h peaceful means and cooperation. The position of the SNC regarding why the Serb community is unable to participate in the elections was explained and he was asked to make it possible for Serbs to participate in the municipality by having members of the municipal assembly named by the UN mission. After the meeting with the UN administrator, Ristic, Nojkic and Velic met with Zoran Krstic, the president of the municipal board of the SNC in Strpce. Thanks to the great effort of Mr. Krstic, the SNC of Brezovica has recently become consolidated and is gaining increasing support among the people of this region.

    After the visit to Strpce, the SNC delegation traveled to Orahovac and Velika Hoca where it met with representatives of the local board of the SNC of that region. In talks with the people from Orahovac, they heard that the situation is still extremely difficult and that it is necessary to undertake additional measures in order to normalize the schedule of escorted civilian convoys. In order to travel from this region to central Serbia it is necessary to pass through a rigorous control carried out on the basis of a list of suspects prepared for KFOR by Albanians. Representatives in Orahovac and Hoca received further information regarding the results of talks between the Serb and Albanian delegations at Airlie House near Washington. It was proposed an SNC delegation at the highest level, together with the international administrator and representatives of UNMIK, KFOR and the people of this region, hold a meeting soon at which resolution of still unresolved issues vital to the li! fe of the people of this region could be initiated. By decision of Bishop Artemije, since last summer two monks have resided in Orahovac who, together with the parson from Velika Hoca, are helping the local population and distributing humanitarian aid. Fathers Stefan and Antonije have also organized religious instruction for the children and are actively participating in the work of the local board of the SNC in the Orahovac area.

    During their visit to these Serb enclaves, the SNC representatives advised the members of their municipal boards in Strpce and Orahovac that the next meeting of the SNC is scheduled for Sunday, August 6, at which the representatives of the Council who visited the U.S. will present a detailed report regarding the results achieved at Airlie as well as on the latest efforts of the SNC leadership for implementation of the Agreement on Understanding and the Declaration from Airlie House.


    At todayís session of the Interim Administrative Council of Kosovo, Hasim Thaci publicly distanced himself from the Declaration at Airlie House, explaining that he traveled to America as a private citizen and not as the representative of his party which rejects the principles from Airlie House. This position on the part of Mr. Thaci was expected as part of a strategy to, on the one hand, please the international community and present himself as a democratic leader while, on the other hand, continuing in his extremist positions which win him the support of the radical part of the Albanian population in Kosovo. Nevertheless, this behavior by Mr. Thaci is extremely typical and clearly confirms the previously stated positions of the SNC that Thaci and some of the representatives at Airlie close to him did not act in good faith and have no intention of implementing the achieved agreement. This will lend further strength to the SNCís argument that the international community cannot ! support and tolerate political demagoguery and further continuation of violence and ethnic discrimination. One of the key requests of the SNC in Washington before the representatives of the American administration was that future international political and economic support of the Kosovo leaders be given commensurate with the level of their adherence to the internationally guaranteed principles from Airlie. In this respect, the American administration bears special responsibility and accountability to scrutinize the behavior of relevant political factors with respect to the principles adopted at Airlie.


    Today at UN mission headquarters a new meeting was held of the Joint Committee on Returns (JCR). Participating on behalf of the Serb community were Dragan Velic and Dragan Nikolic of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija, and Oliver Ivanovic of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica). One topic discussed was the return of expelled Serbs to the region of the municipality of Istok and Klina, especially to the villages of Osojane, Bica, Stupelj and Tucep. In the near future intensive negotiations with KFOR will continue regarding the providing of security for these locations, and as soon as possible visits will be organized so that a limited number of expelled Serbs can visit their homes. Representatives of the SNC insisted that the process of returns must be speeded up as soon as possible and that much greater engagement on the part of KFOR forces is necessary in order to create basic security conditions for these locations. In the meanwhile, the gradual return of Serbs to the region of Slivova!
    is continuing.


    The SNC emphasizes its position that the federal elections can be truly federal only if both federal units participate in them. Unfortunately, because of failure to respect basic conditions for free elections (freedom of the media, of expression, of the Universities, etc.) as well as the discriminatory amendments to the federal constitution which de facto endanger the federal state, there is very little prospect that elections held under these circumstances can be free. This is especially true of Montenegro whose leadership remains opposed to participation in the elections. Nevertheless, the SNC remains prepared to accept every mutual agreement which might ensue among the relevant democratic forces in Serbia and Montenegro with respect to the elections. In this politically delicate situation, much political wisdom and farsightedness is needed.

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