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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

July 5, 2000

  • Discussion on local offices at the PSK session
  • Session of group of experts on draft of temporary law on municipalities in Kosovo
  • Technical problems or the conscious intention of Mr. Momcilo Trajkovic

    Today the delegation of the SNV KM along with Dr. Vojislav Vukcevic, secretary general of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) from Belgrade and a member of the group of experts of the SNV, participated in the session of the Transitional Council of Kosovo (PSK) at which the newest developments in the security situation and the joint agreement of UNMIK and the SNV KM were discussed. During the first half of the session the members of the PSK were also joined by Austrian president Thomas Klestil, who during his speech placed emphasis on the difficult position of the Serb population and the need for Albanian leaders “to stop organized violence” against Serbs. President Klestil appealed to Serbs to enable their voice to be heard throughout the world through their participation in the temporary administration and suggested that the participation of the Serb community in registration and elections be reconsidered.

    Words of Protosingel Sava before President Klestil:

    Your Excellency,

    I am happy that we have the opportunity to see you again today because more than a year ago you were the host of our interreligious conference in Vienna when together with our Albanian colleagues we attempted one of the last attempts to avoid the worst. Unfortunately I am not able to welcome you to a free Kosovo like Mr. Dedaj (the previous speaker) because Kosovo since the end of the war has not been free for all people. The Serbs and many non-Albanians live deprived of their basic human rights - to life, work and freedom of movement. Many have been kidnapped, persecuted and killed, and more than 80 churches have been destroyed in the post-war period including ancient churches from the Middle Ages. Serbs living in Pristina cannot freely walk down the street, attend school, use the hospitals...

    We live herded into enclaves which are not the result of our self-isolation but of the unpreparedness of Albanian leaders and their supporters to behave in a different way than that of Mr. Milosevic’s regime before and during the war.

    I appreciate your recommendation that it is necessary for us to participate in the temporary administration. Truly for us this is an opportunity to ensure that our word is heard and accepted. However our further participation will depend to what degree the security situation will improve and to what extend Albanian leaders and the population are prepared for the building of a democratic society. The freer we are in our lives, the more prepared we will be to participate in registration and elections which are normal democratic processes. But under conditions in which there is no free life unfortunately there can also be no free elections. If all of us living in the Balkans wish to live in Europe we must behave like Europeans. Consequently, we will greatly appreciate your contribution to the building of democratic institutions in Kosovo in accordance with Resolution 1244 as well as your advocacy of equal rights and freedoms for all residents of the Province. Thank you...

    * * * * *

    During the continuation of the session Dr. Kouchner defended several times the agreement reached between the SNV and UNMIK, explaining that it did not involve the formation of parallel institutions but that it was essential to enable accessibility to the administration and the services it offers to that part of the population which is endangered and deprived of freedom of movement. While the majority of Albanian speakers sharply attacked this agreement as leading to cantonization, the legalization of the division of Kosovo, a trick from Belgrade, a return to the old status quo, etc. Dr. Kouchner literally said: “The issue of security falls directly within the jurisdiction of UNMIK and this issue is not open to debate”. “I personally have always been on the side of those who are suffering. Earlier this was the Albanians but now it is the Serbs and members of other communities. That it is why I am now on their side.”

    The majority of Albanian leaders displayed a great lack of understanding of the reality in which the Serbs are living. The lack of understanding has gone so far as to be transformed into a paranoid fear that everything that the Serbs are doing represents a danger to the Albanians. Almost all international representatives who spoke at the session of the PSK confirmed directly or indirectly that this behavior is directly detrimental primarily to Kosovo Albanians and to their reputation in the world.


    Following the session of the PSK, the team of experts of the SNV KM headed by Dr. Vojislav Vukcevic held negotiations with the legal experts of UNMIK, Thomas Koennigs, Blanca Antonini, Oleg Levithin and Karin von Hippel (sp?) Dr. Vukcevic presented the primary request of the SNV KM that the content of the Agenda for Existence which foresees the formation of local offices for national communities be incorporated into the framework of the temporary law on municipalities. Since the idea of forming local offices within the framework of which Serbs together with representatives of UNMIK would perform administrative tasks and offer services to the local population has already by accepted by the joint agreement on understanding between the SNV and UNMIK, it was accepted that the segment which discusses local offices in the draft law be revised and that the tasks and responsibilities of those offices within the framework of the municipal administration be better defined. Namely, the d! raft foresees the existence within the framework of the municipal assembly of a committee for national communities but also of local offices in the regions where national communities live whose basic human rights are endangered. In the event that a municipal assembly should pass a decision which is discriminatory, the committee for national communities can transfer the issue to the jurisdiction of the committee for mediation of the municipal assembly which would provide its feedback and proposal regarding the issue for the consideration of the municipal assembly. In the event that the committee for national communities still believes that this new decision is unacceptable, the mediation of a special representative, i.e., the head of the UN mission, is foreseen. By this two-fold mechanism outvoting and passing of discriminatory decisions are avoided.

    With regard to elections and registration the SNV team of experts explained that the SNV does not intend to boycott the elections nor does it oppose elections as a democratic process but under conditions where basic freedoms do not exist it is clear that basic conditions do not exist for free elections to be held in the majority of municipalities in Kosovo for Serbs. Consequently it was proposed that in the event of [the Serbs’] nonparticipation in the elections and with the goal of securing Serb representation in municipal administrations, the central government, that is, UNMIK, chose as it has previously done, Serb representatives who would therefore be appointed and not elected. In the event that no possibility exists of Serb participation in the work of the municipal assembly, in that case the Serbs would realize their rights exclusively through local offices in Serb enclaves and villages. These local offices would be interactively connected with municipal, regional and Ko! sovo-level structures, especially through departments for local administration each of which would have a special department for coordinating the work of the offices. Since the Serb community is still unconsolidated and in shock without clear political differentiation and that it lives under direct pressure and blackmail by the regime and its advocates, the SNV team of experts is of the opinion that the Serb community simply is not in a position to normally participate in the election process for municipalities. UNMIK is also in continuing to work on this draft law preparing a whole series of anti-discriminatory measures and extended powers for the head of UNMIK who can through his appointments and decisions compensate for the results of justified nonparticipation in elections, that is, in cases where elections are not possible because of the stated problems.

    For the SNV KM it is extremely important that it is understood that the possible nonparticipation of the Serbs in the elections is not a boycott or activity directed toward the subordination of authority of the international authorities but first and foremost of the catastrophically difficult situation of the Serbs and other endangered non-Albanian communities for which a legal solution must be found which would address the real problems and situation in the field. Only through greater flexibility on the part of the international community can confidence be restored among the decimated Serb population.

    The SNV KM during the course of this week will continue with direct consultations regarding the draft law on municipalities and will insist that the essential provisions of the agenda on coexistence and the joint agreement on understanding are included in the text of the draft law. The discussion is scheduled to continue on Friday for the session of the PAVK.


    The statement of Mr. Momcilo Trajkovic regarding some technical reasons why invitations [to the meeting of the united opposition in Leskovac] were not sent to Bishop Artemije and the members of the SNV is not acceptable since there cannot technical problems with bringing the text of the invitation from the village of Caglavica, where Mr. Trajkovic composed it, to Gracanica which is only 4 kilometers away. The text of the invitation with the agenda and the outline of the joint platform was composed on June 20 and it is impossible that it could not be delivered a distance of 4 kilometers by July 4. The SNV KM unfortunately believes that it was the intention of the organizer [of the meeting] Mr. Trajkovic not to have the representatives of the SNV KM present so that he could present himself and the representatives from Mitrovica as the only representatives of the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija unimpeded. With regard to this matter, the SNV KM will probably directly address the le! aders of the opposition parties and warn them of the oversights of Mr. Trajkovic who as the organizer did not demonstrate the necessary responsibility in preparing for this very important meeting.

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