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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, August 6, 2000
In accordance with the proposed agenda, Episcope Artemije welcomed the gathering and informed the delegates of the results of the conference at Airlie House. The participants were also given copies of the text of the declaration which was unanimously adopted by the gathering as a significant step forward in the establishment of a democratic and more just society. This confirms that the representatives of the SNC did not go to the U.S. as private citizens but as responsible representatives of a significant part of the Serb community which supports them.
Following this, important personnel issues were addressed, especially additions to the Executive Board of the SNC. The president of the Executive Board of the SNC, Dusan Ristic, talked about the previous work and activities of the Executive Board and emphasized that it is crucial to better coordinate the activities of the regional and local boards of the Council. At today's meeting, a new Executive Board was formed which now numbers 25 members and which includes the presidents of the Executive Boards of the regional SNC's, as well as vice-presidents of the Executive Board of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija.
Members of the Executive Board of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija:
1. Dusan Ristic, political scientist, Pristina
- Caglavica, president of the Executive Board of the SNC of Kosovo and
2. Randjel Nojkic, electrical engineer, Kosovo Polje, vice-president
3. Goroljub Pavic, attorney, Gnjilane, president of the regional Executive Board of the SNC of Kosovsko Pomoravlje
4. Dragan Velic, civil engineer, Gracanica, president of the Executive Board of the SNC of Central Kosovo
5. Zika Mihajlovic, attorney, Dobrotin, Lipljan
6. Rada Trajkovic, medical doctor, Pristina
7. Teodosije Sibalic, prior of High Decani Monastery
8. Radivoje Panic, priest in Kosovo Polje
9. Milos Zoric, electrical engineer, Lipljan
10. Nenad Radosavljevic, mechanical engineer, Leposavic
11. Srboljub Gulic, university professor, Kosovska Kamenica
12. Dragan Nikolic, agricultural engineer, Pasjane
13. Snezana Milic, economist, Gojbulja
14. Predrag Vasic, electrical engineer, Gracanica
15. Ljubinko Todorovic, attorney, Gracanica
16. Zoran Krstic, mechanical engineer, Badovac
17. Predrag Nicic, architect, Kosovo Polje
18. Sokol Stojanovic, agricultural engineer, president of the Executive Board of the SNC of Strpce - Brezovica
19. Mirko Jakovljevic, transportation engineer, Plemetina
20. Zoran Krcmarevic, economist, Mogila - Vitina
21. Milomir Srbljak, machinist, Gorazdevac
22. Radomir Janicijevic, mechanical engineer, Zvecan
23. Ljubisa Ristic, veterinarian, Korminjane
24. Slavko Tasic, tourist industry employee, Gornja Bitina
25. Dragomir Kostic, writer, Preoci, Pristina
Also adopted was a list of the members of the SNC who will be responsible for corresponding functions within the SNC and cooperation with corresponding departments of UNMIK in Pristina:
1. Central fiscal administration - Snezana
2. Reconstruction - Predrag Micic, architect
3. Economics and industry - Radomir Janicijevic, mechanical engineer
4. Education and sciences - Srboljub Gulic, university professor
5. Religion and culture - Prior Teodosije Sibalic, High Decani Monastery
6. Public works and services - Predrag Vasic, electrical engineer
7. Judicial system - Goroljub Pavic, attorney
8. Transportation and road works - Mirce Jakovljevic, transportation engineer
9. Postal service and telecommunications - Randjel Nojkic, transportation and electrical engineer
10. Health and social services - Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Medical Faculty professor
11. Labor and employment - Milos Zoric, electrical engineer
12. Agriculture - Dragan Nikolic, agricultural engineer and co-director of the UNMIK agricultural department
13. Ecology - Slavko Tasic, tourist industry employee
14. Civil protection - Zivojin Zika Mihajlovic, attorney
15. Democratization and civil society - Dragomir Kostic, writer; Nenad Radosavljevic, mechanical engineer; and Petar Jeknic, journalist
16. Local administration - Dragan Velic, civil engineer
17. Displaced persons and refugee returns - Zoran Krstic, mechanical engineer
18. Humanitarian affairs - Father Radivoje Panic; Zoran Krstic, economist from Strpce; Jordan Jaksic, mechanical engineer from Zubin Potok
19. Youth and sports - representative has yet to be named
The meeting continued with the presentation to the delegates of the Proposal on priority tasks for the SNC. After a discussion in which many members of the Council participated, the following text was adopted which during the upcoming period will represent the basic guidelines for the work of the Serb National Council. The text reads as follows:
Agenda for the meeting of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija
The situation in Kosovo and Metohija is very difficult and still ambiguous. The position of the Serb national community is unenviable and this situation must be surmounted. Difficult conditions have forced the Serb national community in Kosovo and Metohija to reflect and seek a solution to these conditions if such a solution can be found. One of the results of this was the formation of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija as one aspect of self-organization by the Serb people for its survival in this region and creation of conditions for the return of expelled, fled and displaced Serbs to their centuries-old homes in Kosovo and Metohija. At the congress of the Serb National Community held on October 18, 1999, participants from all regions of Kosovo and Metohija reached a decision on the formation of the Serb National Council as a joint organ which will coordinate the work and direct the political activities of the Serb national community at the level of Kosovo and M! etohija, and which will represent the Serb community of Kosovo and Metohija before the international community and other institutions abroad and in the country. The Council and its organs act in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the guidelines of the Congress of the Serb National Community of Kosovo and Metohija held on October 18, 1999 and other decisions and positions reached in accordance with Resolution 1244. In the same spirit are the Agenda for Coexistence and the Agreement on Understanding concluded between UNMIK (Kouchner) and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija (Bishop Artemije) in January and on June 29, 2000 respectively. All this creates a special need that the Serb National Council better organize itself and strengthen and expand its human resources. Toward that goal, we need to
1. carry out changes and additions to the Executive Board
of the SNC;
2. regroup sections and coordinate them with the organization of UNMIK;
3. select heads for the sections;
4. secure offices for the work of the Council and its organs;
5. form local boards of the Serb National Council and regional boards of the SNC (Strpce, Kosovska Mitrovica) and hold meetings of the regional boards of the Gnjilane and Gracanica regions by August 20, 2000;
6. construct and adopt a Statute of the Council by the end of August 2000;
7. resolve the issue of financing the work of the SNC;
8. construct Bylaws for the work of the Council and the Executive Board.
Responsibility for task: Council Executive Board.
II. WORK IN THE ADMINISTRATION
By the entry of the members of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija into the interim administrative organs of Kosovo and the signing of the Agreement on Understanding, a window of opportunity has opened for the Serb national community to directly influence the resolution of its problems. However, at the same time this requires that members of the Serb national community fully join the organs of UNMIK, UNHCR, OSCE and other organs of the international community in working on the resolution of issues of interest to the Serb community. The task of the Executive Board is to encourage interest, find and select professional staff and see they are included in the work of the organs of the international community. Toward that goal, we need to
1. construct documentation regarding positions
in UNMIK and other organs of the international community which could be
filled by Serb professionals;
2. work on the creation of a positive political atmosphere and security conditions so that our people would compete for and accept working in the organs of UNMIK and document interest on the part of Serbs for the above-mentioned positions.
Responsibility for task: Executive Board and members of the Council working in transitional organs (Randjel Nojkic, Dragan Velic and Dragan Nikolic)
III. IMPLEMENTATION OF AGREEMENTS
The implementation of the Agenda on Coexistence, and especially of the Agreement on Understanding, represents the most important relationship of the international community toward the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija. From the very beginning, lack of understanding, ignoring and obstruction have been encountered not only on the part of the Albanians but also on the part of some local administrators of UNMIK (Kosovo Polje, Kosovska Kamenica, Lipljan and others) and some remaining forces of the regime in Kosovo and Metohija. For this reason, one of the primary tasks of the Executive Board and its organs, together with representatives of UNMIK, is to complete this task by the end of August.
Responsibility for task: Council President, Executive Board and Judicial System Section.
IV. JUDICIAL SYSTEM
The judicial system in Kosovo and Metohija is not working. National discrimination is being carried out against the Serbs. Arrested Serbs have been kept in jail for months outside all laws and without a trial. The Agreement on Understanding addresses the issue of the judicial system. The task of the Council and the Executive Board is to find a solution with UNMIK for the overcoming of this vitally important issue for the Serb National Council in Kosovo and Metohija, and for anarchy to finally end.
Responsibility for task: Council President, Executive Board and Judicial System Section.
One of the integral parts of the Agenda for Coexistence and the Agreement on Understanding is the issue of the participation by Serbs in the Kosovo police force in the region of the Serb enclaves. Upon the joining by Serbs of the Kosovo police force, we encountered lack of understanding, resistance and obstruction, especially on the part of the Albanians. This has influenced the fact that there is currently a very small number of Serbs working in the UNMIK police.
In order to enable Serb police to work in the Serb enclaves together with the UNMIK police, it is necessary to secure a sufficient number of Serb candidates. This can be accomplished primarily by removal of Albanian obstruction and their strong, direct influence in police headquarters with respect to acceptance and selection of Serb candidates, as well as by greater engagement by the Council and UNMIK in Serb locations in demonstrating the need for Serb police. With regard to this it is essential to
1. schedule and hold a meeting with the police commander and his associates and clarify all dilemmas, again point out existing problems and reach agreement as to how to implement the positions of the Agreement on Understanding relating to the police.
Responsibility for task: Executive Board and Head of Section for Security.
VI. RETURN OF EXPELLED PERSONS
The return of expelled, fled and displaced Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija is one of the most crucial and most difficult tasks of the Serb national community and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija. It is essential to start as soon as possible with well thought-out, organized and cautious work on this issue. the problem is extremely complex. Required is a high degree of cooperation among the main factors: KFOR, UNMIK, UNHCR, OSCE, the SNC, all regional Serb national Councils (Kosovska Mitrovica, Gnjilane, Gracanica, Strpce), the FRY Committee for Cooperation with International Forces in Kosovo and Metohija, associations of expelled and fled Serbs, as well as other national and humanitarian organizations which desire to work on and assist with the realization of Serb returns.
Special responsibility for this task is also borne by the Joint Committee on Returns of Serbs, consisting of administrators of UNMIK, KFOR, UNHCR, OSCE and the SNC. The direct task of the Executive Board of the SNC is
1. to determine the locations (villages) to which Serb
returns could secured at this time;
2. to collect documentation of expelled Serbs who wish to return to the above-mentioned locations;
3. to receive acknowledgement from KFOR that it can provide security for returnees;
4. to construct a plan for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses for the returnees;
5. to create an operational plan and elect a board for each locations where Serb returns are foreseen.
Responsibility for task: Section on returns and Dragan Velic, Zoran Krstic, Predrag Nicic, Goroljub Pavic and Zoran Krstic of Strpce.
VII. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The prerequisite for the survival and return of expelled Serbs is the reinvigoration of industry and social activity. The international community is contributing funds for the development of Kosovo and Metohija. To date these funds have been utilized almost exclusively by the Albanian national community. Because they did not participate in the organs of the interim administrative structure of UNMIK, the Serbs were unable to submit requests for the use of these funds. This obstacle has now been surmounted. However, greater initiative and professional knowledge by people is necessary to become part of the mechanisms for the utilization of these funds. Because of this, it is essential to direct our people and develop the initiative for them to join in the utilization of these opportunities from local administrators to organs of UNMIK at the Provincial level.
We need to provide human resources for all available positions in departments and other institutions through which we can better assist our people in material revitalization and the strengthening of the Serb national being in Kosovo and Metohija.
Responsibility for task: Section for economics and industry.
All other current issues.
Executive Board of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
* * * * *
During the course of the discussion, special emphasis was placed on the priority of the implementation of the Agreement on Understanding achieved with Dr. Kouchner last month. Improvement of security remains the greatest responsibility of the Council and all other activities are directly dependent on the quality of security. With respect to the return of displaced persons, it was concluded that the first step has been achieved, regardless of how symbolic it may be. The first returnees are coming to completely abandoned villages in the region of Slivovo, northeast of Pristina. This is the first case where Serbs are returning to completely abandoned villages and renewing their destroyed homes. Satisfaction was expressed with the fact that the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica has also begun to cooperate with the Joint Committee on Returns of displaced persons. The members of the Council also expressed the hope that during the upcoming period the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica will more activ! ely and constructively join the bodies of the interim administration and assist their compatriots in the southern parts of the Province. Nenad Radoslavljevic of Leposavic, a member of the delegation to Airlie House, was appointed to coordinate work and negotiations with the SNC of Kosovska Mitrovica. Members of the SNC who are participating in the work of the Interim Administrative Council and the Kosovo Transitional Council informed the gathering of the correct cooperation with the international UN mission and KFOR. Participation in interim administrative bodies enables the voice of the Serbs to be heard and acknowledged. Without the presence of Serbs in these forums, many one-sided decisions would have been made which would have been very detrimental to the position of the Serb people. Because of this, general support was again expressed for the participation of the SNC in the interim administrative structures.
The delegates of the SNC confirmed the position of the Council, already expressed in a series of statements of its official representatives, that the process of free registration and local elections in Kosovo and Metohija is impossible under these security conditions and while two thirds of our population is outside of the Province. That is why the main focus of the work of the Council in the upcoming period until better conditions are created will be with respect to the consolidation of the system of local offices which are expected to enable the carrying out and providing of administrative services to the Serb population living in enclaves. With regard to federal elections, the position was expressed that favorable conditions for these do not exist as long as one federal unit is not participating in them. Nevertheless, the SNC remains open with regard to this issue and will neither call on the people to participate nor discourage them from doing so. Participation in federal ! elections remains a matter of free choice for the parties comprising the Council, as well as for every individual citizen. In principle and in accordance with Resolution 1244, Serbs and other citizens of Kosovo and Metohija have the right to participate in federal elections as the Province is an integral part of FRY and the Republic of Serbia, one of its federal units, although favorable conditions for federal elections have not been created as the other federal unit, Montenegro, does not accept elections under these conditions. The SNC supports negotiations between Montenegro and the opposition in Serbia and is prepared to wholeheartedly support every constructive agreement which would lead to the replacement of Milosevic and democratic changes in the country.
After the conclusion of the meeting and a brief press conference led by Father Sava, the newly appointed Executive Board of the SNC, presided over by Dusan Ristic, held its first session in order to consider the first concrete measures with the goal of implementing the Proposal on priority tasks for the SNC.
The SNC wishes to express its special thanks to the units of KFOR which provided escorts for all of our delegates coming from various parts of Kosovo and Metohija. Without their protection and assistance, this meeting could not have been held.
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