March 26, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 26-03-03







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Report on how the last remaining Serbs in Pristina struggle to survive in an Albanian dominated surrounding


ERP KIM Info-Service
March 26, 2003

(photo Inet: A British soldier guarding the entrance to the last building in Pristina in which Serbs live. Now the building is without regular military protection despite general insecurity)

The"Ju zgrada" or "YU building" as it is usually called since NATO forces arrived in Kosovo and Metohija is the last place in Pristina where Serbs live as a community. A total of 180 Serbs make up this community and out of that number 34 are children. Apart from this community there are 80 other persons of Serbian ethnicity living in Pristina. Those are people who live in houses or flats in different areas of Pristina. One of those groups lives in the surroundings of the Orthodox church of St. Nikola, others in the University settlement .

The life of people in the YU building is similar to life in a prison; often I have the impression that we live in a sort of Zoo. That impression I have usually when a delegation of people from whatever part of the world comes to visit us. On these occasions they usually place themselves near the fence that surrounds the upper concrete platform and from that position they are looking down at a lower platform where business facilities are located and where we usually mingle during day time. The building's residential area is on the upper platform . Those visitors-observers ask us nothing, they do not communicate with us, they only take photos of us without even asking us whether we want to be photographed or not.

Tenants of the YU building are people who lived in it prior to the arrival of NATO forces in Pristina (so called old tenants) and people who arrived from different parts of Pristina as their flats were taken over by Albanians. People from Urosevac, Lipljan, Obilic moved into empty flats in the YU building throughout 1999. Many of them did not stay for long, most often it was for up to several months. When they moved others would move in to the emptied flats in order to seek accommodation and safety. In that period it seemed as if the situation in the YU building was safer than in other parts of Pristina and that was all thanks to the presence of KFOR soldiers, but actually the situation was not as safe as it seemed. Residents do not forget that the YU building was shot at with grenades, rockets and bombs were also thrown. Furthermore, the famous surgeon and dentist Dr.Petkovic was kidnapped and still we do not know what has happened to him. Still, the community has succeeded in surviving up to now.

The YU building has been under the constant protection and supervision of British KFOR since July 1999. British KFOR, or more accurately one military unit of British KFOR placed themselves in two flats in the building entrance (or as it is now known in entrance 23).Their supervisory points were installed in several different places around the building. Five supervisory cameras were installed, two for monitoring and control of the space in front of the entrance into the residential area of the building and three for monitoring the area behind the building. This was the situation until Sept 2002. In October 2002 British KFOR decided to stop constant supervision of the YU building! For the community it was a tremendous surprise as the situation is practically the same as far as most of the tenants of this building are concerned . They think that the situation has not changed for the better compared to the conditions when the building started being protected by British KFOR. All in all British KFOR was silent when it came to requests of the tenants to continue with supervision of the building but they organized occasional foot patrols to check up on the building bywalking around and on the odd occasion they will remain for a while in the building in their facilities where their monitors for supervision of the surroundings are situated. Although the cameras are still in position as before it seems that the cameras are not functioning.

(photo: Granny Borka (Basic). An elderly Serb from Pristina beaten by Albanians. Elderly Serbs were the most frequent victims of Kosovo Albanians)

Right after permanent monitoring and supervision of the surrounding area was set up by British KFOR , unknown attackers stoned the minibus used as transportation for the tenants to go to Gracanica, Kosovska Mitrovica etc.

During the investigation that was headed by representatives of the International police (UNMIK Police) it was established that the cameras placed on the command post were not functioning so it was not possible to establish who shattered the windows of the minibus! How can one feel safe in such circumstances?

British KFOR after persistent requests from the community continued to organize and escort the school bus which takes the children from the YU building and two other children from the Northern part of Pristina to school in Laplje selo. Parents are constantly under pressure and worried about the security of their children as we never know when British KFOR shall stop escorting the school bus. The end of this year was mentioned but this is only an estimate as nobody has told us anything officially.

The situation in which the community of the YU building finds itself is very precarious for many reasons. First of all there is an issue of uncertainty re KFOR protection in the next period. Then there are the efforts of the Electricity Company KEK to collect money for electricity by force from the current tenants from 1999 to the present day. KEK insists on collecting the money from tenants that now live in the flats regardless of when the current tenants arrived or when they moved into the flats. Many people were disconnected regardless of the reasons they provided or proof that they had not lived in those flats since 1999. I do not want to mention all the problems that certain tenants had with the KEK employees but I do want to stress that the problems of the YU community have to be reviewed in the proper context and only then can the appropriate decisions be made on what to do. One of many important facts that characterize the life of this community is that it is practically impossible for any of the tenants to secure themselves any kind of job where they could earn a living. Most of the YU programme tenants are pensioners who receive their pensions in dinars as their only source of income and that is the case also with the vast majority of the rest of the Serbs who reside in Pristina. That money they can only spend in Gracanica as it is the nearest place where the dinar can be used. On the one hand, this fact is significant because of the amount of money these people receive as pensions compared to how high the electricity bills are (the size of the bill in many cases exceeds the amount received in the pension) and on the other hand it illustrates the necessity to make it possible for people to travel to Gracanica.

Especially interesting is the case of the new tenants that bought flats in entrance A and moved into their apartments in October and November 2002 (those are Albanians that bought the flats from the previous owners in that building entrance (the owners were military ) KEK insists on collecting debts from them for the electricity spent since 1999 regardless of the fact that other people lived there (in some of the flats tenants have changed several times since). The reason why I am raising this is actually to illustrate the lack of willingness on the side of KEK to review any justified reasons. Furthermore , in the case where the tenants are Serbs one has to keep in mind that a significant number of them receive social assistance, that they are ill or not able to move, restricted to their beds constantly, invalids and elderly that simply are not able to have any source of income. In these cases it is clear that steps have to be taken by UNMIK, Coordination Center, KEK and other interested parties with any power to assist this community. They must consider the fact that the community is not living in normal circumstances and therefore they are not able to meet their obligations as citizens. They would do so if circumstances were normal.

Apart from that, in reality we have a situation where a great number of inhabitants have received a warning that their electricity will be cut within days 3/12/2002). And this is happening now during the winter period!?

(photo: A British soldier helps Serb women from Pristina to enter the KFOR vehicle on their way to the church)

Within the YU community, an NGO "Cornerstone" is active (translated into Serbian the name of NGO is Kamen Temeljac). This NGO is performing some activities that are of vital importance to the community. One also might say that many of the activities are of great importance for the rest of the Serbs in Pristina. From the following description of activities it is possible to conclude how important they are to the community and all the rest who are interested in the return of Serbs to Pristina.

The survival of NGO "Cornerstone" is put into danger  by many factors. The first issue is paying rent to the owners of facilities in which the activities of the NGO are performed (Community Centre, Grocery store, Ambulanta, Information Centre). Owners of the mentioned business facilities showed up last year with contracts that they had signed with the NGO ADRA on behalf of the European Agency for Reconstruction which funded the aforementioned facilities. After that ADRA signed Contracts for use with the facility owners. Those contracts expired during the second half of this year (the end of July, the end of October) and owners appeared with the request to "Cornerstone" asking for them to pay them rent?! Let me give you an example of how much some asked; for example for the facility where the Community Centre is situated - 500 EURO per month and for the facility where the Information Centre is 200 EURO although the place is no more than 12 metres square!

During the night 19/20 October 2002 unknown individuals broke the glass on our minibus in which the NGO was transporting people to Gracanica and other places in Kosovo and Metohija.

As I stated at the beginning of this letter, the perpetrators were never found and now we are looking for someone who is willing to help us repair that minibus and continue with the transportation of people. Transport of the people to Gracanica and other places in Kosovo and Metohija is of important significance for all members of this community and surely for the rest of the Serbs in Pristina.

Transport is closely connected to the problem of doctors who need to come from the Health House in Kosovo Polje to the ambulanta of our community. That is because British KFOR stopped transporting Dr. Slavica Jankovic who was regularly seeing patients. That is extremely important to the large number of Pristina inhabitants. Only in the YU building there are several persons that are continuously restricted to bed and request everyday doctor's supervision and care.

Author is one of the Serbs living in the YU buiilding




KIM Radio
March 25, 2003

Gracanica - Bishop Artemije, stated that the manner in which Michael Steiner, the current UNMIK chief, and his predecessors have conducted their work is not in accordance with resolution 1244. Giving a comment on the initiative raised by the Serbian National Council for North and Central Kosovo for the replacement of Steiner, the bishop stated that some of the decisions made by Steiner are not leading towards the solving of the problems on Kosovo.

Bishop Artemije also stated that the recent move made by Steiner in regards to the transfer of authorities, is in direct contradiction with the Security Council resolution. The bishop warned the Serbian authorities by saying that they need to pay a special attention on the direction in which the talks will be headed. "Are these talks between two equal sides, two independent states or is it an internal dialogue with in one state in order to solve certain existing issues." The transfer of authorities is predetermining the final status of Kosovo, evaluated the bishop. "By transferring the authorities on to the Kosovo institutions, Steiner has made the negotiations unfair because this move puts Belgrade in a "no win" situation while the Prishtina side is given a head start in the upcoming dialogue", stated Bishop Artemije.


At least one Serbian Officer should be sent to KFOR HQ as a symbol of sovreinginty, Dr. Trajkovic says


KIM Radio
March 25, 2003

Gracanica - Dr. Rada Trajkovic, Serbian deputy in the Parliament of Kosovo said to KIM Radio that representatives of our state should request return of Serb-Montenegrin officers to the KFOR Headquarters. Reacting to the statement by the Commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) Agim Ceku and the KFOR Commander, Italian General Fabio Mini, on partnership of KPC with KFOR and UNMIK, Trakovic said that recognicion of such a formation was completely surprising and presented a serious precedent. "Our state should openly request at least one liaison officer to be posted in KFOR Headquarters as a symbol of sovreignity", said trajkovic.

Kosovo Corps Commander Agim Ceku announced in Pristina today that in future members of KPC will be able to give full support to KFOR troops and UNMIK if necessary. General Fabio Mini confirmed that with this a new phase in functioning of KPC began.


About 400 officers from the Iraqi army were deployed in the Balkan countries to attack American and British embassies and diplomats


MIC (Macedonian Information Center)
March 25, 2003

Skopje, 25 Mar (MIC) - About 400 officers from the Iraqi army were deployed in the Balkan countries to attack American and British embassies and diplomats. Their target may also be other countries that joined the coalition against Saddam Hussein, daily "Dnevnik" learns.
Reportedly, former Iraqi officers have been operating in Macedonia, Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo for several moths, together with members of Al Qaeda, terrorists from Saudi Arabia and members of the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard "Pazdaran", which also opened logistic office in Skopje. Western sources claim that Iraqi officers, once trained in the former Yugoslav army, and Al Qaeda terrorists are working n creating "Balkan Muslim army". They already recruited about 20,000 fighters, both veterans and "fresh blood".

The activities of the fighters in Macedonia are helped by Albanians, and are developing in great secrecy, mainly hidden behind the activities of the mosques. The mosques were also used for recruiting future fights for the Muslim army, mainly boys of 15-16 years of age, financed by Saudi Arabia. After passing the first course, the boys received salary of USD 500-700. According to security sources, the Iraqi officers were in charge of military training, whereas the Al Qaeda members – for terrorist activities. The sources of the daily claim that the young members of the Balkan Jihad already enrolled in schools for army pilots in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

According to the information from the U.S. State Department and the British Foreign Office, their embassies in Skopje were closed after receiving "serious threats". Reportedly, in Macedonia there is a group of six Iraqis that is preparing terrorist acts. The American embassy resumed regular work Monday, whereas the British embassy is expected to be reopening for the public today. The Ministry of Interior neither confirmed nor denied the information about presence of an Iraqi terrorist group in Macedonia.

"The information about presence of such group is still in the field of speculation, and the Ministry of Interior can neither confirm not deny it. The Ministry took certain measures for protection and increased presence in front of some embassies," said spokeswoman Mirjana Kontevska.




March 25-26, 2003

Steiner forming advisory body to transfer authorities to provisional institutions

UNMIK Head Michael Steiner is to form on Wednesday an advisory body which is to transfer certain authorities of the international administration to provisional Kosmet institutions, UNMIK spokesperson Djordji Kakuk announced in Zvecan, in northern Kosmet. The transfer of authorities is in line with Resolution 1244, on the basis of which the government of Kosovo is to have its competences, Kakuk said. The head of the MP club of the Serb POVRATAK coalition, Dragisa Krstovic, assessed that the move by the UNMIK head could aggravate the safety situation in the region.

Serbian Government would request from UN Sec. Council to reconsider Steiner's decision

Advisor to the Prime Minister of Serbia for Kosovo-Metohija Branko Radujko, announced that the Government would soon request the UN Security Council to reconsider the decision of the UNMIK head, Michael Steiner regarding the transfer of some competences of the UN Mission onto provisional institutions in Kosmet. The Serbian government is to submit the request in order to establish whether Resolution 1244 has been breached and whether Steiner has violated his competences, Radujko told BETA. Only after that a Government delegation is to start negotiations with representatives of the Kosmet authorities and on UNMIK, regarding technical issues which Steiner recently proposed to Belgrade, Radujko said.

KCC Chief Nebojsa Covic requested from Steiner to freeze transfer of competences

The chief of the State Coordination Centre for Kosmet, Nebojsa Covic requested from the head of UNMIK Michael Steiner to freeze the transfer of competences from the international administration to provisional Kosmet authorities, as well as the beginning of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina for a period between 60 and 90 days. If UNMIK does not accept that, it will bear all the responsibility for the possible consequences, warned Covic. Pointing out that the Serbian national community in Kosmet would not permit that the province become an independent state, Covic stressed that the similar moves of the UN administration led to new conflicts.

PRESS REVIEW, March 26. 2003

Transfer of UNMIK’s competences onto the local community prejudices the final status of Kosovo-Metohija, write many dailies, reporting on yesterday’s joint meeting of the Serbian National Council of north and central Kosmet.

The transfer of competences which mark and express state sovereignty, from international institutions onto the local Albanian majority community in Kosovo-Metohija, apart from being in contradiction with the UN Resolution 1244, also excludes the right of Serbia and the state union of Serbia and Montenegro to its territory, quotes the BORBA daily. In this way, the final status of Kosovo-Metohija is prejudiced, thus indirectly introducing the independence of the Province, and making future negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina pointless, emphasizes the daily.

The DANAS daily also reports on the meeting of the Serbian community representatives in Kosovo-Metohija, particularly pointing out the request addressed to the Government and the Assembly of Serbia to urgently discuss the decision of the UNMIK Head. Michael Steiner regarding the transfer of competences onto the provisional institutions of Kosovo-Metohija. The Serbian community in Kosmet also expects the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro to take energetic steps in order to inform the UN Security Council of the violation of Resolution 1244.

Regarding the latest developments in Kosovo-Metohija, the POLITIKA daily writes that the latest steps toward the independence of Kosmet, threaten to turn into a galloping process. Quoting the opinion of legal expert Dusan Colic, the daily reports that there are state, political and legal reasons to stop the process of transfer of additional competences onto the provisional institutions of self-administration in Kosovo-Metohija because it is in contradiction with the said UN resolution but also with the Constitutional frameworks for Self-Administration. Therefore, the representatives of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro and of the Republic of Serbia, should initiate a diplomatic action and to present to the Security Council’s legal experts, proper arguments, suggests Colic. He adds that the UN Resolution 1244 was being violated in Kosovo-Metohija, since its very adoption, that is from June 10, 1999. Moreover, in his first decree, the first Secretary General’s envoy, Bernard Cushnaire, assigned himself a mandate of legislative, executive and judiciary authority in the Province, overlooking the fact that both the Preamble and the main text of Resolution 1244 quote that the integrity and sovereignty of the then SFY and the present state union of Serbia and Montenegro, were not to be violated.

According to Michael Steiner’s latest initiative, the most important state functions, starting from monetary and fiscal policies, finances, security, to foreign policy, are transferred onto provisional institutions of Kosovo, which represents both formally and essentially, violation of the UN Resolution 1244. In no word does Steiner’s text mention the state union of Serbia and Montenegro or the Republic of Serbia, and not even the Serbian National Community in Kosmet. The moment in which UNMIK Head in Kosovo-Metohija started this initiative, is also indicative: just when the UN and the international community, and the US before all, are occupied with problems regarding Iraq, warns legal expert Dusan Colic, as POLITIKA quotes.


Reactions to the war in Iraq

Humanitarian war
Corax (Danas Daily, March 24, 2003) - Offering Coca Cola to an Iraqi

ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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