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The Information Service of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Gracanica, August 8, 2000

COMMENTARY: Media are creating confusion, SNC to introduce more restrictive relations with media

During the past several days in some of the foreign media statements made by representatives of the Serb National Council have been presented out of context or were cited incorrectly from the Albanian press, thus creating further confusion in the already seething region of Kosovo and Metohija. Namely, the information which the SNC received regarding possible danger from the regime does not constitute any kind of ACCUSATION of the regime but a bare piece of information received by the members of the SNC the authenticity of which has NOT yet been verified - as stated in the daily press briefing without any commentary. Unfortunately, our media rushed ahead to report that the SNC was accusing the regime before the fact which is not true. No one can be accused of anything before the fact.

Some of the foreign media rushed even further ahead to comment on political violence among the Serbs in Kosovo in general, as is the case among the Albanians, even though it is evident that despite serious mutual misunderstandings and pressures, the violence to which the Kosovo Serbs are victim is coming EXCLUSIVELY from the Albanian side. The stories of the Albanian media regarding the alleged operations of Milosevic’s secret service which has gone so far as “to enter unhindered into the depths of territory inhabited by Albanians and carry out” attacks borders on science fiction. The purpose of such stories is to attempt to hide what is in essence an increasingly intense war between political and military groups close to the former KLA on one hand and Rugova’s Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, on the other, and to create a FALSE PARALLEL between Albanian and Serb post-war violence in Kosovo.

At the present time, the UN mission and KFOR officially have no concrete evidence regarding the operation of any armed Serb groups which are terrorizing either Albanians or Serbs, although there is, in all honesty, quite a bit of intolerance and difference of opinion among the political rivals among the Serbs. To date, not a single “infiltrating” secret group has been arrested which is carrying out any attacks in the name of the regime. The most recent example of misrepresentation is from an August 6 article carried by Associated Press and written by Alison Mutler in which, after relatively correct transmission of information, a blatantly false statement attributed to me is crudely interjected: “that the terror of the regime is worse than that of the Albanians”, which overshadows all the previous information regarding the suffering of the Serbs.

Of course, this is not my statement but the incorrectly quoted opinion of one of the participants of the SNC meeting who said that in his village it was more difficult to come to terms with the fear of people from the regime than with the fear of the Albanians. I related this comment by an SNC delegate during an informal conversation as an example of a problem in that particular location but the Associated Press correspondent rushed to attribute the quotation, in a completely warped form, to me. Even a small child can see that the Serbs for the past year have been exposed to the most brutal form of terror and expulsion at the hands of Albanian extremists and terrorist groups which murdered and kidnapped over 1,000 Serbs and destroyed almost 90 Orthodox churches. The error of the Associated Press, whether intentional or not, represents first and foremost an INSULT to our people and our Church.

Similar misrepresentation came from the Albanian language newspaper “Kosova Sot” which reported that I confirmed that Milosevic’s secret service is operating in Kosovo. I must state that I personally do not possess ANY evidence for this claim although I did indeed confirm that remnants of the regime are present who disagree with our work. The problem which we had experiences a few months ago in Brezovica is not proof of this claim. Likewise, [my alleged] claim that Milosevic should apologize to the Albanians is another fabrication. First of all, I explained that there is no such thing as guilty and innocent nations, nor collective responsibility. If anyone owes anyone an apology, then it is both the regime and Albanian politicians. Of course, viewed through the glasses of “Kosova Sot”, this was reported as the sensational news that we are allegedly calling on Milosevic to apologize to the Albanians, while not a single one of my words regarding the responsibility of Albanian po! liticians and extremists was mentioned in accordance with the habits of the Albanian so-called independent press. Redemption and forgiveness must be acts of mutual realization of the unacceptability of any form of violence and preparation to work on building better interethnic relations. They certainly cannot be acts which demand one-sided acknowledgement of guilt and the degradation of an entire nation which is being at the same time subjected to further suffering.

These tendencies on the part of some Albanian and international media apparently have the goal of further fueling inter-Serb conflicts and disagreements and thus worsening the already difficult situation of the Kosovo Serbs.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, false information is also coming not only from the media controlled by the regime but also from some of the independent media. The recent case with an article by SRNA news agency is just one of the examples. The SNC has several times appealed to the independent media to directly confirm the truthfulness of individual quotations cited in the international and, especially, the Albanian media with responsible persons in the SNC. Transmitting the writing of the newspaper “Kosova Sot” without any verification of the positions of the SNC represents extremely unprofessional behavior which is damaging to the interests of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija.

Because of such misrepresentation and unprofessional journalistic behavior, the SNC will introduce a far more restrictive relationship with the media and will demand the authorization of each and every interview. The SNC will hold regular press conferences in the UNMIK building, in the UNMIK press center, following the regular meeting of the Kosovo Transitional Council. Authoritative and official positions of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija will be presented at these press conferences before journalists and in the presence of UNMIK representatives.

Protosingel Sava Janjic

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