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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, July 6, 2000

  • Delegation of US Congress in Gracanica
  • SNV KM for unity of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija
  • Dr. Vladan Batic, Press statement on opposition meeting in Leskovac
  • Condemnation of stoning of convoy of Serbs
  • Welcome for support of Ibrahim Rugova for Agreement on Understanding
  • SNV KM supports position of former head of UNHCR in Kosovo
  • DELEGATION OF US CONGRESS IN GRACANICA

    Today in the monastery of Gracanica Bishop Artemije and his associates received US Senator George Vojinovich and a delegation of the US Congress. As in previous meetings, Bishop Artemije familiarized the visitors with the very difficult situation of the Kosovo Serbs. They also discussed the implementation of the Agreement on Understanding signed between the SNV KM and UNMIK. During his visit to Washington Bishop Artemije met with Senator Vojinovich whom he acquainted with the urgent need to create better conditions for the security of the Serb population in Kosovo.

    SNV KM FOR UNITY OF ALL SERBS IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

    The SNV KM remains open to the establishment of Serb unity in Kosovo and Metohija. As it was previously, it remains the firm conviction of the Council that the unity of all political forces can be achieved only around the Church which through the ages united the Serb people in this region and which commands great respect in international circles because of its position during and after the war in Kosovo. The SNV KM was conceived as a single body within which a multitude of regional Serbian National Councils throughout Kosovo and Metohija work under the coordination of Bishop Artemije and the executive board of the SNV KM in which all of the presidents of executive councils of the regional Serbian National Councils are included. This platform of the SNV was adopted at the founding session of the Council last year. This most certainly does not imply the imposition of positions upon the regional councils by the central body but primarily coordination, cooperation, mutual tolerance and flexibility in leading a rational and discriminatory Serb policy in our southern Province. This strategy permits the possibility of leading two different Serb policies which would not be in opposition and which would reflect the realities which exist in different parts of the Province. The first step toward the establishment of unity might be a joint decision regarding tolerance in the media and cooperation with respect to the issues where minimum agreement can be established. A special role in this process belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church, the democratic opposition parties in Serbia, the royal house of Karadjordjevic with HRH Prince Alexander as well as our democratic organizations among the diaspora which through their financial and moral assistance, together with our transoceanic dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church, remained firmly alongside the suffering Serb people in Kosovo.

    STATEMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC CHRISTIAN PARTY OF SERBIA ON OPPOSITION MEETING IN LESKOVAC

    In the press statement of Dr. Vladan Batic, the president of the Democratic Christian Party of Serbia (DHSS), on July 5, positions are presented which the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija SUPPORTS IN FULL. That is why we take this opportunity to relay this statement in full in our daily bulletin.

    PRESS STATEMENT

    Dr. Vladan Batic, president of the Democratic Christian Party of Serbia Belgrade, July 5, 2000

    At a press conference held following the meeting of the parties of the democratic opposition in Leskovac, the coordinator of the meeting, Momcilo Trajkovic, for reasons known only to him, revealed that the SNV KM had become a member of the united opposition. As I opposed this decision at this meeting, I wish to point out the following:

    First, such a decision could not be reached out of formal reasons;

    a. The SNV of Kosovo and Metohija and the bishop of Raska and Prizren, Artemije, were not duly invited to this meeting.

    b. Of 16 participants of the united opposition present at the meeting on January 10, yesterday's meeting in Leskovac was attended by only seven (DS, DSS, SD, ND, GSS, DHSS , PDS and Momcilo Trajkovic on behalf of the Serbian Resistance Movement of Kosovo and Metohija; therefore, A QUORUM WAS NOT PRESENT FOR THE MAKING OF A DECISION.

    c. Since according to the agreement of the parties of the united opposition all decisions are made by consensus, and since I on behalf of the DHSS opposed the decision, then even had a quorum been present and had Bishop Artemije been duly invited, the decision could not have been made.

    Second, more important, are the factual reasons which guided me during the voting and which I publicly explained at the meeting.

    The united democratic opposition can incorporate as the very name says only members of the opposition. At yesterday's meeting the SNV of Kosovska Mitrovica was represented exclusively by members of the DSS from this region who are members of an opposition party which is represented in the united opposition and whose personal opposition status in not contested.

    However, certain leaders of the SNV of Kosovska Mitrovica HAVE NEVER DECLARED THEMSELVES TO BE MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITION but continue determinedly to try to enter this bloc. This pertains primarily to OLIVER IVANOVIC.

    Let him as the leader of the Mitrovica Serbs publicly state that he is A MEMBER OF THE OPPOSITION; let him state that he demands the departure of Slobodan Milosevic and let him publicly support all the demands of the united opposition from January 10 and I will be the first to vote for the inclusion of the SNV of Kosovska Mitrovica in the united opposition.

    Certain members of the SNV of Kosovska Mitrovica in their public statements have discredited Bishop Artemije and other leaders of the SNV of Kosovo and Metohija using the same language as the spokesmen of the regime or Hasim Thaci. It is appropriate that they repent, apologize and ask for forgiveness. That is the Christian way and that is the Serb way.

    The fact that the option which the SNV of Kosovska Mitrovica represents is in many respects similar t the policy of Slobodan Milosevic and that it reminds us of the misguided policy in Republika Srpska Krajina (RSK) which led to its final loss is a subject for political debate.

    What is critical is that the Serbs in Kosovo find a common language, that they sit together and reach agreement on everything. That they agree on mutual tolerance and "fair play". When the SNV of Kosovska Mitrovica definitely and publicly manifests its opposition status and when it stops throwing mud on Bishop Artemije and his associates, it will be welcome to join the united opposition of which it is not yet a member.

    Dr. Vladan Batic

    CONDEMNATION OF STONING OF CONVOY

    The SNV KM most sharply condemns the stoning of the convoy of Serbs which occurred two days ago on the road from Gnjilane to Strpce. This is yet another example of the terrorist behavior of one part of the Albanian population which does not shrink from attacking unarmed civilians travelling to their homes. the SNV KM during the course of this week will continue intensive contacts with the US command at Bondsteel near Urosevac in order to resolve the problem of Serb convoys in the region of Brezovica to the mutual satisfaction of both sides.

    STATEMENT OF IBRAHIM RUGOVA WELCOMED

    The SNV KM welcomes the statement of the president of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, in which he yesterday publicly supported the Agreement on Understanding between the SNV and UNMIK. This brave gesture on the part of the Albanian leader should serve as an example for the establishment of better and more sincere relations between the national communities in the Province. Unfortunately representatives of the majority of the other "democratic" Albanian parties remain steadfast in their attacks on this agreement and expressions of open intolerance toward the Serb community. This behavior clearly shows that the majority of Albanian leaders are still unprepared for the development of a modern democratic society in which all residents, regardless of their ethnic and religious origin, would be equal before the law and free.

    The SNV supports Dr. Bernard Kouchner who has remained determined to defend the Agreement on Understanding even though it remains shocked by the need of the special representative of the UN in Kosovo to ask for forgiveness from Albanian parties because he wishes to be more decisive in protecting the Serbs who are being killed and kidnapped every day, and to stop organized crime. If only UNMIK and KFOR had taken a more decisive position from the very beginning of the mission. It is certain that numerous victims could have been avoided.

    SNV SUPPORTS POSITION OF FORMER HEAD OF UNHCR IN KOSOVO

    The SNV KM welcomes the statement of the former head of UNHCR for Kosovo, Dennis McNamara, given to The New York Times. In an article written by Steven Erlanger on July 3 it is stated that Mr. McNamara, a man from the top leadership of the UN mission from the beginning of the peacekeeping mission, had serious reservations about the method of approach of the international community in Kosovo.

         There was from the start an environment of tolerance for intolerance
         and revenge...There was no real effort or interest in trying to deter
         or stop it. There was an implicit endorsement of it by everybody --
         by the silence of the Albanian political leadership and by the lack of
         active discouragement of it by the West.... Action was needed, in the
         first days and weeks, when the old images of Albanians forced out of
         Kosovo on their tractors were replaced by Serbs fleeing Kosovo on
         their tractors, and as it became clear that the effort to push minorities
         out of Kosovo was continuing and organized...

         This violence against the minorities has been too prolonged and too
         widespread not to be systematic... We can't easily say who's behind it,
         but we can say we have not seen any organized effort to stop it or any
         effort to back up the rhetoric of tolerance from Albanian leaders with
         any meaningful action.

    (From "U.N. Official Warns of Losing the Peace in Kosovo" by Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, July 3, 2000)

    These words represent the voice of true testimony regarding a situation where the international community, wishing to solve one humanitarian crisis, de facto began to tolerate another. Unfortunately, it is tragic that such testimony is not heard from persons who are in active service in the UN mission in Kosovo. It appears that one needs to go to Kosovo and Metohija in order to be able to honestly testify regarding mistakes made. The admission of Dennis McNamara, the high representative of UNHCR in Kosovo, even more strongly confirms that in this manner, along with continued Albanian terror and the lack of activity of the international community in Kosovo, a democratic society will not be established; instead, a new repression will be enforced. These words are also the best answer to Mr. Thaci and other leaders who have never condemned violence this explicitly nor gone further than empty rhetoric.

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