|kosovo.net : News : Commentary on statement of General Ortuno by Father Sava|
Gracanica, July 31, 2000
No one, not even a Spanish general, can tell the Serbs that the land of their fathers is no longer Serbia. Regardless of the future, permanent status of Kosovo and Metohija, for the Serbs it will always remain as "Old Serbia". This conviction on the part of the Serbs does not preclude the belief that Kosovo also belongs in equal measure to the Albanians and to all other peoples living in this territory; but at the same time, the Serbs cannot permit someone to advise them that they are under the influence of Belgrade for no other reason than because they feel they are Serbs and they feel that this is the homeland of all Serbs.
The Serbs, who have lived for centuries in this area and left numerous monuments of their spirituality and culture here, therefore cannot overnight declare themselves to be members of the nonexistent nation of Kosovars and defacto transform themselves into strangers in a strange land. We saw a similar strategy in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina in some Western media were overnight declared to be foreigners and intruders in the land of Bosnia which, of course, belonged to the newly created nation of Bosniacs.
A contemporary multiethnic and democratic society can be built only by respecting the national and religious identity of all citizens, certainly not by the creation of some kind of amalgamative and artificial nations.
Protosingel Sava (Janjic)
Ortuno said that UNMIK Police and KFOR troops were improving the control of northern Mitrovica, adding that last week for the first time they arrested a person of the Serb secret service, who was nevertheless released by the court, a decision he said, "we and you had to expect".
Ortuno expressed his belief that Mitrovica's future depended on residents of the town themselves, stressing as an essential factor in this regard the maintaining of co-existence between the communities. Ortuno however said that some time has to pass before the town will be united, something he referred to as the first point where they would focus and contribute. "KFOR's objective is to have every part of Kosovo under its control, regardless which part it is," said Ortuno.
Ortuno pointed out that from his perspective as COMKFOR, the situation is much calmer compared with few months ago, noting that the number of murders per week has dropped to 4-5, instead of 40-50 as it was some months ago.
Commenting on reports on the continuation of Milosevic's influence in Kosovo, Ortuno said that it was of fundamental importance for Kosovo's future that everybody understands that those who live in Kosovo are Kosovars. According to him, this meant that, "Kosovo Albanians should feel as Kosovars, Kosovo Serbs should feel as Kosovars. They have to talk to each other and work for co-existence and integration for their future in Kosovo."
Noting there are people who think differently, Ortuno said: "There are people who think that Kosovo is a part of Serbia. It can be said that those people who think in that way are under the influence of someone else". However, Ortuno added that, "this has started to change and our mission is here to help and further as soon as possible these changes".
As for the issue of border control, Ortuno said that KFOR was controlling all Kosovo borders. However, he added that it was difficult to guarantee a 100 percent control, since this would require an increase in the number of soldiers. Ortuno said that KFOR's work so far has yielded results in preventing smugglers, but added that he couldn't say they were fully effective.
Asked if there would be armed conflict in the Presevo Valley, Ortuno said no: "Believe me there won't be any armed conflict, there won't be confrontations in Presevo. My information is that a very calm situation is prevailing in Presevo."
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