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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, October 23, 2000
Bishop Artemije and father Sava in official visit to Berlin
Meeting with representative of the Evangelical Church of Germany
Meeting with Foreign Minister Joseph Fischer
Meeting with Michael Scheffer
Meeting with Markus Meckel
Meeting with representatives of the Bundestag
BISHOP ARTEMIJE AND FATHER SAVA ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO BERLIN
At the invitation of the German minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Joseph
Fischer, addressed to Bishop Artemije last month during his visit to Kosovo,
Episcope Artemije and Protosyncellus Sava Janjic are on an official visit
to Berlin from October 22 to 25 as guests of the German Government.
MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF GERMANY
In the morning hours of the first working day of the visit, October 23,
the representatives of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National
Council of Kosovo and Metohija were received by the official representative
of the Council of the Evangelical Church of German (EKD), Dr. Stefan Rheimers.
During the course of the discussion, Episcope Artemije explained the difficult
situation in which Kosovo-Metohija Serbs are living to the German host,
placing special emphasis on the painful fact that since the end of the
war and in the presence of a great number of international military forces,
over 90 Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed in Kosovo
and Metohija. Bishop Artemije explained to Dr. Rheimers that Serbs in Kosovo
today have no basic human rights and that it is extremely important that
the Evangelical Church become engaged in order to secure the necessary
aid for the victims and especially for refugees who are living in extremely
MEETING WITH FOREIGN MINISTER JOSEPH FISCHER
In the early morning hours in the building of the German ministry of foreign
affairs, Episcope Artemije and Protosyncellus Sava Janjic were received
by the federal minister of foreign affairs, Joseph (Joschka) Fischer and
his closest associates. During the one and a half hour discussion, Bishop
Artemije expressed his thanks for the invitation of Minister Fischer a
month ago and emphasized that after a year and a half the position of the
Kosovo Serbs is not improving and that the process of discrimination against
everything Serbian continues. The security situation is the key to the
current Kosovo problem because under the present conditions it is extremely
difficult to return the refugees and begin with serious construction of
democratic institutions. Nevertheless, a very positive step which fundamentally
changes the perspective for future resolution of the problem is the democratic
change in Belgrade and the conviction of the Church and the SNC that President
Kostunica will firmly support the protection of state and national interests
in the region of the southern Serbian province. At the moment, it is essential
to do everything possible to stop the violence, to find and free all missing
and kidnapped persons and to secure the return of expelled Serbs to their
homes as soon as possible. Only them will the necessary preconditions for
the construction of a truly democratic society and institutions be created
within the framework of Resolution 1244.
Minister Fischer likewise emphasized the importance of bringing a stop
to the violence, the freeing of prisoners and all missing persons, emphasizing
that the participation of Kosovo-Metohija Serbs in local elections would
be most important and desirable. Bishop Artemije explained to Minister
Fischer that the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija cannot accept local Kosovo
elections without fundamental respect of their rights and freedoms, with
a knife at their throats, so to speak. Without freedom of living it is
impossible to organize free elections, stressed Bishop Artemije.
Minister Fischer placed special emphasis on the need for a positive
solution to the problem of Kosovska Mitrovica which might serve as a model
for the resolution of the entire Kosovo problem. Mr. Fischer advised Bishop
Artemije that the German government, acting through UNMIK, had already
invested certain funds earmarked for the development of the economy, especially
in this region.
Bishop Artemije agreed that the problem of Mitrovica should be resolved
in a just and objective manner but not to the detriment of the Serbs. However,
at the same time, efforts should be made to resolve the problems of Pristina
and Prizren as well from where the majority of Serbs have been expelled.
In order to enable the survival of smaller Serb enclaves, it is necessary
to invest funds in these areas especially through the development of mini-projects
which would provide jobs for the people.
Protosyncellus Sava emphasized that the future participation of Serbs
in institutions will now depend on the Albanians themselves because the
Serb representatives agreed to participate in the work of the Kosovo Transitional
Council and the Interim Administrative Council under the most difficult
of circumstances so that their voice could be heard; however, their possible
participation in the Kosovo assembly which the international community
plans to establish in the spring is an issue which will be decided on by
consensus of all Serbs in the Province and in coordination with the democratic
government in Belgrade.
The victory of democracy in Belgrade has finally created conditions
for Kosovo Albanians to enter into dialog with representatives of the Government
as well as for the new Government to more actively and effectively advocate
rights and freedoms for all citizens in the region of Kosovo and Metohija,
emphasized Bishop Artemije.
MEETING WITH MICHAEL SCHEFFER
Following the meeting with federal minister Fischer, the delegation of
the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the SNC met with Mr. Michael Scheffer,
the head of the department of Balkan affairs within the ministry of foreign
affairs. During the course of the discussion, in addition to views already
expressed in previous discussions, also discussed was the necessity of
finding and freeing more than 1,000 kidnapped Serbs as well as the need
for more active engagement of KFOR and the UN police against organized
violence and acts of terror by Albanian extremists. It is tragic that not
a single attacker of more than 90 destroyed Orthodox churches has not been
brought to justice and that the destruction of Serbian culture in the presence
of UNMIK and KFOR continues, stressed Bishop Artemije.
MEETING WITH MARKUS MECKEL
The working day was concluded with a meeting with the federal delegate
in the Bundestag [parliament], Mr. Markus Meckel, who is also the representative
of the Social-Democratic parliamentary committee for foreign affairs and
the representative of the Bundestag in the NATO parliament. Mr. Meckel
is the former minister of foreign affairs of the German Democratic Republic
and a renowned expert on Balkan policy.
MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE BUNDESTAG
In the evening hours the Serb delegation from Kosovo and Metohija attended
a dinner organized in the German Parliamentary Society which was attended
by several eminent members of the Bundestag concerned with Balkan issues
and especially Kosovo. Among others, participating in discussion were Dr.
Helmut Lippelt, the foreign affairs representative of the Green parliamentary
bloc, Ms. Angelica Berr, representative for defense policy of the Green
Alliance, Mr. Gert Weisskirchen, representative of the SDP (Social-Democratic
Party) in the Bundestag and others.
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