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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Gracanica, August 21, 2000 [ADDENDUM]

  • SNC delegation talks with international representatives in Orahovac
  • Ambassador Gabriel Keller and EU observation team visit Gracanica Monastery
  • Bishop Artemije talks with UNHCR chief Eric Morris
  • SNC DELEGATION TALKS WITH INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES IN ORAHOVAC

    Today a three-member delegation of the executive board of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija headed by Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Randjel Nojkic and Dragan Velic, the president of the SNC of Central Kosovo, visited Orahovac. After talks with the local Serbs and clergy in Orahovac, the delegation met with international representatives for the municipality of Orahovac: Mr. Karakas Kano (sp?), the municipal administrator for Orahovac, as well as local representatives of UNHCR, OSCE and German KFOR forces. Special emphasis was given in the talks to the security situation in which the Serbs of Orahovac and Velika Hoca are living, especially after the Airlie Declaration and the Joint Understanding of UNMIK and the SNC. In accordance with the Agenda on Coexistence, the representatives of the Council emphasized the need for opening two local community offices in the Serb part of Orahovac and Velika Hoca where local Serbs could participate in the work of the administration toget! her with representatives of the UN mission. Specially insisted upon was that as many local representatives as possible be engaged in joint cooperation. After this meeting, Slavisa Kolasinac, the local representative of the Serbs of Orahovac and one of the members of the Serb delegation at Airlie House, met with German defense minister Rudolf Scharping to whom he elaborated on problems faced by the Serb community in the Orahovac region.

    AMBASSADOR GABRIEL KELLER AND EU OBSERVATION TEAM VISIT GRACANICA MONASTERY

    Ambassador Gabriel Keller, the former French ambassador to Belgrade and deputy of the former verification mission in Kosovo during 1998-1999, visited Gracanica Monastery and spoke with Episcope Artemije and representatives of the SNC. Bishop Artemije talked about the Airlie Declaration which represents a significant step forward but for now remains so many words on paper as violence in Kosovo has continued unabated after the Virginia conference. Albanian leaders much do more to stop ethnically motivated violence against Serbs if they wish to win the confidence of the Serb people.

    Protosyncellus Sava especially insisted that problems in Kosovo are being resolved in an inadequate manner because the international community failed to establish a correct diagnosis of the situation. The entire strategy of the international mission is based on the hypothesis that the chief problem and the only problem is Milosevic’s regime, while on the other hand covering up the existence of organized Albanian terrorism which is directed not only against non-Albanian national communities but also against political dissidents among the Albanians themselves. Terrorism cannot be defeated by hiding its existence, financing allegedly “transformed” extremists and the creation of the impression that all existing problems in the Province are caused by the phantom and omnipresent secret service of Milosevic.

    The main problem in Kosovo appears to be the unpreparedness of Western governments to show the same decisiveness against Albanian extremism which they demonstrated against Milosevic’s regime. It is completely illogically to have punished the Serbs by the bombing of Yugoslavia and the death of thousands of innocent civilians because of Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing of Albanians in a time of war while doing nothing less than rewarding the ethnic Albanians for the expelling and murders of Serbs, Romanies, Bosniacs and others in a time of peace and under an international protectorate, added Episcope Artemije. In that light, it is even more absurd that some circles in the West see the solution in even greater rewards for the Albanians by possibly giving them an independent Kosovo which would create an important precedent and cause an entire series of similar reactions and demands throughout the Balkans and perhaps throughout all of Europe, emphasized the president of the SNC. The po! st-war continuation of ethnic cleansing and maximal discrimination against everything which is not Albanians is the clearest indication that the solution of the Kosovo problem is not in an ethnically clean and independent Albanian Kosovo, just as it is not in a centralized and nondemocratic Yugoslavia run by Milosevic. It is necessary to create a democratic society without the redrawing of international borders and the creation of banana republics in the Balkans, concluded Father Sava at the end of the discussion.

    BISHOP ARTEMIJE TALKS WITH UNHCR CHIEF ERIC MORRIS

    In the afternoon hours Episcope Artemije, the president of the SNC, and members of the leadership of the SNC Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Randjel Nojkic, Dragan Velic and Protosyncellus Sava Janjic spoke with Mr. Eric Morris, the head of UNHCR in the region of FRY. Mr. Morris advised Bishop Artemije regarding the newest efforts of UNHCR to encourage and organize the return of displaced Serbs to Kosovo and Metohija. Assessing the current security situation, Bishop Artemije emphasized that the process of returns must be intensified prior to the winter as the situation of Serb refugees presently in refugee centers in central Serbia and in Kosovo is extremely difficult. The returns to Slivovo and Grace which have taken place are encouraging, said Bishop Artemije, but we must speed up the process in other locations, said the president of the SNC.

    The members of the Council emphasized the need for UNHCR to support the request of the Council that temporarily displaced Serbs in the region of Kosovo and Metohija be provided with longer-term accommodations in locations where they are currently located until conditions are right for them to return to their original homes. Namely, almost 20,000 internally displaced Serbs in Kosovo do not wish to leave the Province but cannot return to their original homes at this time, especially in the cities and in the region of Metohija (the western part of the Province). The international community is investing money in the renovation of destroyed homes but unfortunately Serbs in many locations cannot begin to renovate their homes because the most basic security conditions for their return and the renovation of their communities simply do not exist.

    Both sides expressed satisfaction with the formation of the Joint Committee on Returns but the need was emphasized for the Committee to intensify its work prior to the winter. Bishop Artemije firmly stressed that the return of expelled Serbs represents the fundamental condition for the normal participation of the Serb national community in political processes in the region of Kosovo and Metohija.

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