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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 27, 2000

  • Bishop Artemije and Dr. Kouchner open new Resource Center on Detainees and Missing Persons in Gracanica
  • Bishop Artemije talks with Bernard Kouchner
  • BISHOP ARTEMIJE AND DR. KOUCHNER OPEN NEW RESOURCE CENTER ON DETAINEES AND MISSING PERSONS IN GRACANICA

    Today Bishop Artemije together with Dr. Bernard Kouchner opened the Resource Center on Detainees and Missing Persons in Gracanica. This Resource Center will concern itself with collection of information on disappeared and kidnapped Serbs and will work on finding the missing Serbs together with the International Red Cross, OSCE, the UNMIK police and KFOR. This is the first concrete step taken by UNMIK toward the resolution of what is for the Serbs the very painful issue of disappeared Serbs. After the opening of the Resource Center Dr. Kouchner spoke with the relatives of disappeared Serbs and promised that UNMIK will do everything possible for them to be found.

    BISHOP ARTEMIJE TALKS WITH BERNARD KOUCHNER

    Today in the monastery of Gracanica a meeting was held between Bishop Artemije, the president of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, and Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the head of the UN mission for Kosovo and Metohija. The meeting was also attended by Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Randjel Nojkic, Dusan Ristic and Dragan Velic as well as by the closest associates of Mr. Kouchner.

    Dr. Kouchner informed Bishop Artemije regarding measures being undertaken by UNMIK toward the goal of implementing the Agenda on Coexistence between UNMIK and the SNC. A review of measures undertaken corresponding to each point of the agreement follows:

    1.   Recently more special security measures have been taken involving the engagement of mobile police units. Two security pilot projects in Obilic and Vitina are currently in progress.

    2.   Currently 276 Serbs are employed by the Kosovo Police Service, including enrollees in the 12th class [of the police academy in Vucitrn] who begin instruction on November 24. An additional 260 Serb candidates have been identified by the SNC and UNMIK and will soon undergo training. Also active is a special recruitment team which is visiting Serb locations in the search for suitable candidates.

    3.   Currently there are 9 international judges and 3 international prosecutors engaged in the judicial system. Some court cases which were delayed for long periods of time have been successfully completed such as, for example, the Momcilovic case. Several Serb judges have already been identified thanks to the SNC and they are expected to begin working shortly.

    4.   The Joint Committee on Returns is continuing to prepare expert assessments and organize visits by displaced persons to locations throughout Kosovo (“go and see visits”). Task groups have been formed for the areas of Slivovo, Istok and Vucitrn. The separate Planning Group has also begun working on preparations for Serb returns in the near future. Projects to assist with and facilitate the process of returns have already been presented to donators and the necessary funds should be made available in the near future. The SNC is participating in the work of this committee together with the regional SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica which is contributing significantly to the process as a whole.

    5.   The UNMIK Missing Persons Unit is continuing to investigate cases of disappeared persons and a separate UNMIK Victim Recovery and Identification Commission is organizing visits to Serb locations and displaying clothing found on discovered bodies for identification purposes. UNMIK established a Bureau on Detainees and Missing Persons in Pristina. A Resource Center has just been opened in Gracanica which will work on the issue of disappeared Serbs. This process is taking place in collaboration with OSCE and the International Red Cross as well as UNMIK police. In the past several months, approximately 50 murdered Serbs found in various locations throughout Kosovo and Metohija have been identified.

    6.   Local Community Offices have already been fully formed in 24 municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija and they are staffed by close to 200 local Serbs. Representatives of UNMIK and the SNC continue to organize regular visits to municipalities in which LCO’s are working. Mr. Dragan Velic, the president of the executive board of the regional SNC of Central Kosovo, is expected to assume the role of the director of the Office of Community Affairs in the Department of Local Administration in the near future.

    7.   Members of the SNC are participating in the work of the Interim Administrative Council of Kosovo’s committee on local self-government in municipalities in Kosovo and introduced several significant clauses included in the final text of the Regulation on Municipalities which protect the interests of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. As a result the Agenda for Coexistence became an integral part of the Regulation on Municipalities. A task group which will include Serb experts will be formed after the municipal elections in order to contribute to the preparation of the Regulation on the Rights of kosovo.netmunities.

    8.   Talks with UNMIK are under way in order to find the best way of establishing a joint committee for the protection of Serb cultural and spiritual treasures in the Province. In cooperation with the SNC, the NGO MNEMOSINE was formed which will enable better coordination toward the goal of protecting the Serb heritage.

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