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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Gracanica, August 31, 2000

  • Javier Solana in Gracanica
  • Bishop Artemije receives Ambassador Frowick
  • Stormy reaction of today's Albanian press to statements by Father Sava
  • COMMENTARY: New election test balloons by Father Sava
  • SUPPLEMENT: AFP, 30 August, "US gives tacit support to extremists: moderate Serbs"
  • JAVIER SOLANA IN GRACANICA

    Today a meeting was held in Gracanica Monastery of the highest representatives of the SNC and Mr. Javier Solana, special commissioner of the EU for international relations. In addition to Bishop Artemije, the president of the SNC, the meeting was attended by representatives from Leposavic, Zubin Potok, Zvecan, Gnjilane, Brezovica (Strpce) and central Kosovo.

    At the very beginning of the meeting, Bishop Artemije reminded Mr. Solana of an entire series of promises given to the Serb community which remain unfulfilled to this day, emphasizing that the terror of Albanian extremists, especially against Serb children, is still continuing. The Serbs in Kosovo do not need any more rhetoric and empty promises, said the bishop, but concrete deeds in the field. The international community is responsible for identifying Albanian terrorism and the perpetrators of crimes, and bringing them to justice. The same measures against terrorism which are being implemented elsewhere in the world need to be applied here. It is absolutely unacceptable that the political process in Kosovo continues to be built on political cooperation with those who are undermining this process and directly involved in attacks on Serbs and moderate Kosovo Albanians. The international community also needs to make a concrete effort to find and free Serbs who have been kidnapped as well as to facilitate the return of displaced Serbs to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija. At the end of his presentation, Bishop Artemije stressed that the Serb community's patience is at an end and that in the future it will base its confidence in the international community on the efficacy of concrete deeds in the field, primarily toward the goal of defending Serbs and other endangered communities, not merely on kind words and promises.

    In her presentation, Dr. Rada Trajkovic emphasized the concern regarding the recent increased promotion by Albanians but also by international circles of the idea that only the independence of Kosovo will bring an end to the violence. This is also the spirit in which the newest report of the International Crisis Group was written. The position of the SNC that there is NOT ONE Serb in Kosovo who will ever accept the independence of Kosovo and the secession of the Province from our country as it has become crystal clear during this post-war period what kind of monstrous state this would be. The road to the independence of Kosovo would be the road to a new war, the radicalization of the Serb population and would lead to similar processes throughout the Balkans and the world. Some kind of independent Kosovo could only be Albanian; if the international community wants to create a new, ethnically cleansed, Albanian state it will have to do so without the Serbs and at the very high price of instability in the entire region. Instead of seeking a road toward independence, the international mission must fulfill its mandate and create interim democratic structures, a functioning judicial system and stop the chain of violence because these are its responsibilities as defined by Resolution 1244.

    Mr. Solana said that the international community is continuing its efforts to improve the position of the Serbs, emphasizing that he personally was aware of the suffering of the Serb people and sympathized with it. "I did not come to Kosovo to seek applause but to help as much as I can, as a friend," said Mr. Solana and added that prior to coming to Gracanica, he had spoken with the families of missing Albanians and felt their pain. Despite the relatively sharp and emotional reactions of the Serb representatives, Mr. Solana expressed the desire to continue with political contacts and promised that the next time he came to Gracanica, it would be with concrete results.

    After the conclusion of the meeting with Javier Solana, the leadership of the SNC held a short meeting at which it reaffirmed the strong decisiveness of the Council to continue cooperation with the international community despite the fact that it has failed to accomplish that for which it is responsible. By doing so, the doors for cooperation remain open, it is impossible to accuse the Serbs of being responsible for their suffering because of failure to cooperate and boycott, and the possibility remains for the voice of the Serbs to be heard at all levels and forums as the credible voice of a community which is suffering. The SNC, which has openly distanced itself from the war-time violence of the regime, has always pointed out that, in addition to the regime of Milosevic, the key problem in Kosovo is Albanian terrorism and separatism.

    BISHOP ARTEMIJE RECEIVES U.S. AMBASSADOR JAMES FROWICK

    In the afternoon, Bishop Artemije and the members of the SNC who previously attended the meeting with Mr. Solana spoke with a U.S. delegation headed by Ambassador James Frowick, the special representative of the State Department. In his introductory remarks, Bishop Artemije repeated his firm position that the international community must finally undertake concrete steps against violence against the Serbs. The U.S. plays a key role in this process because the Kosovo Albanians feel and interpret that the reactions of the U.S. administration support what they are doing. The SNC respects the efforts which the U.S. administration and its organizations are making to help the Serb people in the Gnjilane region but what is most necessary to the Serbs is freedom of movement, work and living which they presently do not have due to the fact that authority in Kosovo is still in the hands of extremist Albanians who assumed control in the municipalities after the end of the war.

    STORMY REACTION OF ALBANIAN PRESS REGARDING PRESS CONFERENCE BY FATHER SAVA

    Recorded in today's Albanian press is the stormy reaction of Albanian representatives regarding the statement of Father Sava that the Serb community does not have confidence in Albanian political parties stemming from the KLA because this organization is responsible for the death of many innocent civilians. On the other hand, Father Sava expressed concern because of increasingly frequent attacks on the LDK, Rugova's party, with whom the Serbs are prepared to cooperate if they reaffirm their commitment to the idea of tolerance and a common life.

    Fatmir Limaj, public relations secretary of Thaci's PDK, stated in today's issue of the daily "Zeri" that there is possibility that Father Sava Janjic will be sued for his statements, saying: "Both Milosevic's regime and Sava Janjic know where to attack, because they are well aware that forces stemming from the KLA will never rejoin Serbia and will never allow Kosovo to remain under the rule of Milosevic's regime and the control of Belgrade. Janjic is well aware of this."

    On the other hand, Kole Berisha of Rugova's LDK stated that they, too, would not allow themselves to fall into "Sava's traps". Namely, in today's edition of the newspaper "Zeri" Berisha emphasized: "I am repeating what I once told Damjanovic and Grgovic. No occupier or foreigner, no Father Sava or any other Sava, will succeed in introducing divisions among the Albanians or their political parties."

    The SNC considers these reactions to be very characteristic because they show that apparently in Kosovo there are no moderate political forces ready for multiethnic, democratic cooperation. The statement of Father Sava, unfortunately, only served to provoke the Albanian representatives to very quickly reveal their true colors. All things considered, one thing is clear: hate directed against the Serbs is currently even stronger than the inter-Albanian conflicts which are growing increasingly intense before the local elections.

    COMMENTARY: NEW PRE-ELECTION TEST BALLOONS

    Yesterday's performance by representatives of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in the village of Gracanica demonstrated all the irony of the policies of the ruling regime but also the credulity of the humiliated Serb people in Kosovo. The SPS representatives returned to Kosovo in their jeeps with diplomatic plates (in their own country!!!) bearing a new assortment of motley lies before the elections, promising regular salaries and flattering the people by calling them heroes. In essence, they brought nothing new except new empty promises and new stories about the alleged return of the army to Kosovo and Metohija, which is currently one of the newest pre-election test balloons. It is obvious that the main goal of the pre-election campaign of the SPS in Kosovo is to once again extract a vote or two to prolong the agony of our people and our country.

    However, according to the words of witnesses and those present, the entire meeting was lifeless and attended by few people, primarily those who still derive some financial benefit from the regime. One group of attendees whistled their disapproval at the officials of the ruling party thus confirming that Milosevic's traditional stronghold in Gracanica is no longer as monolithic as it has been in the past.

    News regarding the opening of polling booths in Kosovo, on the other hand, has caused some consternation among the representatives of the international mission who were not informed of the arrival of Gajevic and the other SPS officials. In the entire confusion regarding local Albanian elections, news of federal elections in Kosovo have created more headaches for Bernard Kouchner.

    By Father Sava (Janjic)

    US GIVES TACIT SUPPORT TO EXTREMISTS: MODERATE KOSOVO SERBS

    INTERNATIONAL PRESS: AFP

    PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Aug 30 (AFP) - Moderate Kosovo Serbian   leaders opposed to Slobodan Milosevic's Belgrade regime on Wednesday accused the United States of turning a blind eye to ethnic Albanian extremism.

    The spokesman of the Serbian National Council (SNV) said that Washington was still locked into the idea of ethnic Albanian   militants as "freedom fighters" and unwilling to recognise that some were involved in ethnically motivated violence and organised crime.

    Father Sava Janjic said that in meetings Tuesday with US   officials the SNV president, Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic, had   urged them to take a fresh look at the province and to distance themselves from extremism.

    "Bishop Artemije insisted that the US has to come out clearly with a definition of what's going on in Kosovo," Sava told reporters   at a Pristina news conference.

    "Albanian extremism is regarded as something non-existent and very easily proclaimed as just freedom fighting, so when Serbs and   their government leave Kosovo it will become an oasis of peace. But we can see that Kosovo is anything but an oasis of peace."

    Sava said that Belgrade's "state terrorism" had been strongly opposed by the United States, but complained that violence committed   by former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was being ignored.

    "We still can see that certain people in the American administration are still co-operating with people who are seriously   suspected of being even now involved in certain illegal activities," he said.

    Two former KLA leaders, Hashim Thaci of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and Ramush Haradinaj of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), have been received by officials in Washington. Thaci was also a guest at the Democratic National Convention in Los   Angeles earlier this month.

    Since the arrival of a NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo in June last year and the retreat of Belgrade's forces, which had been   fighting the KLA, around 210,000 Serbs have fled the province to escape revenge attacks.

    On Sunday an eight-year-old Serbian girl was killed by an Albanian hit and run driver and a 75-year-old farmer shot dead in a   drive by shooting. Serbs have placed both attacks in the contact of a campaign of hatred against them organised by ethnic Albanian   extremists.

    In July the leaders of Kosovo's main ethnic Albanian parties and representatives of the SNV signed an agreement in Airlie House,   Virginia, to avoid violence and work out their differences democratically.

    But Sava said that SNV members had gathered extensive evidence that former KLA fighters were involved in ethnic violence, crime and   smuggling, and said the basis of the Airlie House agreement was undermined by Albanian leaders' failure to reign in their supporters.

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