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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, August 4, 2000

  • Unjustified accusations against the Church in SRNA news article
  • Joint Committee on Returns holds meeting in Gracanica
  • SNC delegation visits central Kosovo
  • Father Sava a guest on Albanian radio program in Pristina
  • UNJUSTIFIED ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE CHURCH IN SRNA NEWS ARTICLE

    Some of the Belgrade daily newspapers carried the news article by SRNA news agency in which the clergy from Gracanica and Bishop Artemije are accused of the disappearance of no less than 10,000 dollars earmarked for displaced Serbs. It is very sad that a reputable agency such as SRNA should publish a news article which is not only incorrect, and which it did not attempt to verify with the appropriate persons in the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, but a news article which is unprofessionally composed and most resembles propaganda. This lapse is very detrimental to the reputation of a news agency which is considered to be independent.

    First of all, the article does not mention the name of the person providing the information, nor the official positions of the organization Srpski Bozur (Serb Peony) from Chicago and the Diocese of Raska and Prizren. The entire article is composed in the style of the most common slander and it is inexplicable that some daily newspapers have chosen to take this "news article-slander" at face value, without first checking with those who are unjustly accused.

    The monetary donation which the organization Srpski Bozur collected for the Serb people in Brezovica was accepted on behalf of the diocese by Bishop Artemije, who ordered his priest in Strpce, Randjel Denic, to distribute the donated money according to his good judgment to those residents in his parish most in need. Father Randjel distributed the money to those who were most in need and submitted a report to the Bishop in a timely manner with the signatures of the heads of household who received this money on behalf of their families of which the donators were advised. The Diocese of Raska and Prizren is in possession of these lists with signatures which is the case for all donations received by the Diocese for the needs of the people.

    To date a significant number of donations have been made via the Church which are regularly registered and accounted for. The monies received are used to provide monetary assistance to those most in need, for the medical treatment of the poor, for the needs of the clergy who have been displaced from their parishes and for scholarships for poor students from the region of the Diocese. Bishop Artemije regularly reports to the Holy Synod of Archpriests in regard to these kinds of activities in addition to all other church matters. Our transoceanic dioceses and humanitarian organizations regularly send their donations which the faithful collect for the needs of the suffering people.

    The Diocese of Raska and Prizren asks our respected daily newspapers, as well as the news agency SRNA from whom this inaccurate information originated, to publish our rebuttal.

    JOINT COMMITTEE ON RETURNS HOLDS MEETING IN GRACANICA

    A meeting of the Joint Committee on Returns (JCR) of displaced Serbs was held today in Gracanica. Representing the SNC were participants Dr. Rada Trajkovic and Randjel Nojkic. One of the topics addressed at the meeting was the continued return of our displaced persons to their homes in the region of Slivovo, northeast of Pristina. Thanks to the great involvement of British KFOR and Brigadier General Shirreff, approximately 30 people have already returned and are working on repairing their damaged homes. From the very beginning of this project in Slivovo, the SNC, especially Dr. Trajkovic, has been involved. Despite this, Dr. Trajkovic noted, the return process as a whole is advancing more slowly than expected as a result of the fact that security through out the Province is very unsatisfactory. Randjel Nojkic expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the Committee had been joined by Mr. Ivanovic of the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica, who recently stated that the work of the Committee was being done by "serious people". The representatives of the SNC hope that this will speed up the dynamics of return and the quality of work of the Committee.

    SNC DELEGATION VISITS CENTRAL KOSOVO

    At the conclusion of a tour lasting several days to all parts of the Province, Dusan Ristic and Dragan Velic visited the Serb communities in the region of central Kosovo and informed the members of the SNC regarding the upcoming meeting on August 6 in Gracanica. At this meeting, central Kosovo will be represented by its regular members not including Slavisa Kostic and his group who are acting apart from the SNC and continue to undermine the work of the Council.

    FATHER SAVA A GUEST ON ALBANIAN RADIO PROGRAM IN PRISTINA

    Protosingel Sava, acting in the capacity of spokesperson of the SNC, was the guest today on a two and one-half hour call-in radio program on Radio Kosovo. The participation by a representative of the SNC on the call-in radio program during which listeners posed questions regarding the positions of the SNC and the Serb community on the most crucial issues in Kosovo and Metohija was organized on the invitation of the radio program director, Mr. Agim Fetahu. Father Sava answered questions in the Serbian language and often the listeners posed questions in Serbian as well, even though the services of a translator were available. This guest appearance constitutes the first step in breaking down the media wall which exists between the Serbs and the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. As soon as it begins broadcasting, the radio station in Caglavica will organize a similar program with one of the Albanian leaders. In accordance with the principles from Airlie House, the media play a key role in transcending the gulf which exists between the respective medias of the communities, and can contribute to better understanding and reduction of tensions.

    During his responses, Father Sava placed special emphasis on the fact that what is most important in Kosovo and Metohija at this time is that violence stop and that temporary democratic institutions be created which will enable the development of democracy and better relations between the communities. Revenge and violence are unacceptable from either side because they cannot return those who perished among the living. The representative of the SNC again affirmed the position of the Council that the international community must identify and arrest all those responsible for crimes committed both during and after the war. However, it is unacceptable for the masses to take on the role of judges and for innocent people to be victimized once again. The spokesperson of the SNC repeated the already well-known positions of the Council on registration and the elections in Kosovo and FR Yugoslavia, emphasizing that without life freedoms there can be no freedom to live. This was the first instance in which the Albanian public could pose open questions to a representative of the Serb community on all topics and get firsthand information on the positions of the Council.

    At the conclusion of the program, Father Sava spoke about the role of the Church during the war and especially regarding the noble efforts of the monks of Decani who saved over 150 Albanians in the monastery, offering them protection, food and shelter. The Church has always opposed violence, especially against those who are innocent victims, emphasized Father Sava. When asked whether the Serbs will ask forgiveness from the Albanians for crimes which were committed, Father Sava stressed that no one people cannot be proclaimed to be only the victim or only the perpetrator of crimes. The crimes committed during the war and after the war are not acts by entire peoples but acts by individuals and radical groups who are directly responsible for these acts of infamy and must answer for them. It is unrealistic to expect more understanding on the part of the Serb people for the suffering of Albanians during the war when the violence against the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija still continues to this day. The violence must stop and democratic leaders of both communities must responsibly and courageously confront events in the recent past and undertake gestures of reconciliation, pardon and forgiveness. For the symbolic gestures of leaders to be meaningful, it is necessary to raise the level of awareness in the communities regarding the suffering of their neighbors. The residents of Kosovo and Metohija will find a better future only if what they see before them is not the past but a clear vision of a democratic and just society which will not be based on discrimination. In building such a society, both Serbs and Albanians must demonstrate confidence toward the international community and, by their efforts, assist the activities of the UN mission and KFOR in the region of the Province.

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