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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, 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 difficult conditions.

    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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