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kosovo.net : News : Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

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, July 31, 2000

  • Oliver Ivanovic finally begins cooperation with international institutions in Kosovo and Metohija
  • Ambassador Pardew and representatives of the SNC on programs to help the Serb community in the Gnjilane region
  • SNC of Central Kosovo is an integral part of the SNC and not the private organization of Slavisa Kostic
  • Press conference of the SNC in Belgrade
  • Japanese government finances the purchase of 26 school buses for Kosovo Serbs

    Today at UNMIK headquarters in Pristina a meeting of the Joint Committee on Returns (JCR) was held which was also attended for the first time by Mr. Oliver Ivanovic, the president of the executive board of the regional SNC of Mitrovica. The SNC of Kosovo and Metohija was represented at the meeting by Dragan Velic, the president of the executive board of the SNC of Central Kosovo. The attendance of Mr. Ivanovic represents an encouraging step forward and demonstrates that the SNC of Mitrovica is beginning to understand that the expelled Serbs cannot return without cooperation with the institutions of the international mission of the UN in Kosovo and Metohija, Dragan Velic stated for the Information Service of the SNC. Discussed at the meeting was the process of returns to various locations in the Province. The representative of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija emphasized the encouraging example of the return of the first 30-odd Serbs to the region of the village of Slivovo, some 20 kilometers east of Gracanica. This project is the direct result of the efforts of the British KFOR brigade Center and the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija. The Slivovo project is expected to include repairs of damaged homes, infrastructure and assistance in acquiring livestock and seed for field work. Mr. Ivanovic discussed separately a project for the return of Serbs to the region of the municipality of Istok and Klina.

    The committee concluded that during the next few days several visits should be made to locations foreseen for the return of displaced Serbs in order to enable the process of the return of the Serb population in accordance with the Airlie Declaration.


    Ambassador James Pardew, one of the envoys of the State Department for the Balkan region, visited Gracanica today. Participating in talks which took place as a continuation of the recent visit to Washington was a four-member delegation of the SNC (Dragan Nikolic, Dragan Velic, Dusan Ristic and Protosyncellus Sava), as well as representatives of the American refugee organization PRM and the American office in Pristina. Ambassador Pardew and Ms. Frances Culpepper acquainted the members of the SNC with a comprehensive project for economic revitalization in Serb regions, especially in the area of the east part of the Province in the region of Gnjilane. This is a program of stabilization which is expected to implement the goals established at Airlie, especially with respect to the development of civil society and reconciliation. Persons displaced from Kosovo will not want to return until they see better security conditions and economic development in their communities.

    The program for stabilization has the task of identifying the greatest needs of the Serb population and enabling the development of economic relations with the neighboring Albanian population and the establishment of a common market. The following organizations will participate in the program of stabilization for eastern Kosovo: the American Refugee Committee (ARC), Mercy Corps International (MCI) and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). These organizations will focus their activities primarily in the region of Gnjilane at first, later expanding projects to other parts of the Province.

    The basic goals of the program are better security and quality of life, economic development and development of educational and health institutions. During the talks it was separately concluded that needed for security and returns are more intensive activity by KFOR, the creation of economic interdependence between the communities, and special training and work on the development of tolerance and conflict resolution. In this manner freedom of movement, the creation of new economic opportunities and better accessibility to educational and health institutions would be achieved.

    One of the first projects to be led by Mercy Corps is assistance to small farms and the providing of individual producers with food for livestock and seed. In order to show a concrete example of this project, the American and Serb delegations went to the village of Caglavica where they visited the small farm of Zivojin Nicic where he raises hens to produce eggs which are provided with food at a discounted price by Mercy Corps. In cooperation with this organization, it is expected that the production process on the Nicic farm will expand and that economic relations with Albanian consumers who will purchase the products will be established. In Kosovo Polje the delegations visited the large warehouse of Mercy Corps in the old "Zitopromet" building. Local Serbs from this region are signing agreements with Mercy Corps to purchase food for poultry at a discounted price or on credit which is enabling the startup of production and the creation of better economic conditions for the life of the Serb community.


    The SNC once again expresses its protest because of the continued false representation of a group headed by Slavisa Kostic, the former member of the SNC, who arbitrarily withdrew from the central organization and announced the formation of the so-called SNC of Central Kosovo. In fact, the SNC of Central Kosovo never ceased to exist and it continues to work in accordance with the principles adopted at joint meetings of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija. It is absolutely unacceptable that a group of people is using the name of the SNC while at the same time openly violating the basic principles and positions of the Council and failing to maintain contact with the Council. The SNC of Kosovo and Metohija appeals to the independent media not to contribute to the creation of confusion because of the false representation of Slavisa Kostic who, together with Momcilo Trajkovic, limits his political activity mainly to statements against Bishop Artemije and the SNC. As on numerous previous occasions, the SNC represents the position that policies are not built on empty statements and fiery rhetorics but on results in the field and readiness to fight for the vision of a better society in Kosovo and Metohija in cooperation with the international community and her institutions. The increasingly intensive contacts of Kostic and Trajkovic with officials of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Oliver Ivanovic best illustrate the political trend of this group. It comes as no surprise that the statements of these former members of the SNC are appearing with increasing frequency in the regime media, and unfortunately, by their maliciousness, they are competing with Seselj's radical waves.

    By their rejection of the Agreement on Understanding and the Airlie Declaration which give priority to the protection of the Serb people in Kosovo, these groups are increasingly lining up alongside the Belgrade regime.


    A press conference was held today in the offices of the Democratic Christian Party of Serbia (DHSS) by the SNC at which questions from reporters were answered by Episcope Artemije, the president of the SNC; Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Randjel Nojkic and Petar Jeknic. Presented to those in attendance were the results of the conference in Airlie which Bishop Artemije said represented a historic meeting and the first serious dialog of Serbs and Albanians in the last 100 years. When asked whether the SNC supports local elections in Kosovo as organized by the UN, Bishop Artemije responded that the SNC in principle supports elections although in its opinion basic conditions of freedom of movement and living have not been provided for the Serb community. Without freedom of living there can be no free elections for the Serbs, and consequently the SNC will not call on the Serb community to participate in the elections even though it will not oppose the results of local elections if they are accepted by the international community. With regard to the scheduled federal elections and the decision of the united opposition to participate in elections, the position of the SNC is that the right conditions have not been created for these elections also and that the acceptance of elections organized by Milosevic's regime would be tantamount to recognition of the illegal changes of the constitution which de facto lead to the disintegration of the federal state.


    The government of Japan at the request of Dr. Rada Trajkovic who recently visited this country earmarked funds which have already been paid to the United Nations for the purchase of 26 school buses for the use of the Kosovo Serbs. SNC is already preparing other projects which will be proposed to the Japanese government for its assistance in realization.

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