15 November 2006

Ambassador Frank Wisner and Bishop Teodosije visit Serb returnees in Klina municipality

KiM Info Newsletter 31-10-06
KIM Info Service. October 27, 2006

The U.S. envoy for negotiations on the status of Kosovo Ambassador Frank Wisner with his wife and the head of the U.S. Office in Pristina Tina Kaidanow visited Serb returnees in Klina and Vidanje on Thursday, October 26, 2006, accompanied by Bishop Teodosije and Fr. Sava from Decani Monastery.

In the home of Milorad Pavlovic Ambassador Wisner and his associates learned of the problems this family has experienced, especially after an explosive device was lobbed into their home a month ago inflicting serious injuries upon all four members of the family. "The living room was completely demolished by shrapnel and it's nothing less than a miracle that we survived," said Milorad Pavlovic, adding that he, his wife Rada and mother Jela are firmly determined to remain in their home.

A month after the attack, the Pavlovices' apartment has been completely renovated and the Kosovo Government's Ministry of Return has provided funds for the purchase of new furniture and household appliances. "We are trying to live normally like before; we go to the store and the market; we are greeted by our neighbors and momentarily we have no difficulties. We place our faith in God that things will remain so and that even more Serbs will return to Klina," added Pavlovic. During the meeting Ambassador Wisner said he was deeply impressed by the example of the Pavlovices who, despite what occurred to them, responded with dignity and courage deserving of sincere respect.
After the visit to the Pavlovic family Ambassador Wisner with his associates and Bishop Teodosije visited the Klina municipal assembly where they met for one hour with Prenk Djekaj (LDK) and his deputies. During the conversation special emphasis was placed on the fact that Kosovo institutions are faced with the great responsibility of ensuring a normal and secure life for members of national communities, especially returnees, and that those responsible for recent attacks on Serbs in Klina must be found and brought to justice.

"That is what we expect of you," emphasized the U.S. envoy who then gave a press statement saying that the resolution of Kosovo's status, which the U.S. would like to see during the course of this year, will not resolve all the problems facing Kosovo and that everyone in Kosovo is confronted with the enormous responsibility of building a better future for all citizens regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation. In Klina municipality, which has a population of 55,000, there are currently 212 Serb returnee families (in the villages of Bicha, Grabac, Vidanje and Drsnik, including 59 Serbs who returned to the town of Klina itself). Only days ago 15 Serb returnees returned to their restored homes in the village of Klinavac.
The visit to Klina municipality concluded with a visit to the ethnically mixed village of Vidanje where some 40 Serb returnees are living among Albanian Roman Catholics. In the store owned by Serb Ranko Kostic Ambassador Wisner learned of the challenges faced by this small Serb community. "Life is not easy and two Serb houses in the village were robbed yesterday. Nevertheless, we live the hope that things will get better and that even more Serbs will return to this region." Ranko Kostic opened a small store where he sells food articles obtained in Klina, Pec and Mitrovica. "In addition to Serbs I frequently have my Albanian neighbors stopping into the store," said Kostic, explaining that one has to work to make a living and that the revenue from the store enabled him to provide his family with the means to survive.
After visiting Vidanje Ambassador Wisner left for Pristina Airport where he held a press conference. During the afternoon Bishop Teodosije visited the Serb village of Brestovik and the monastery of the Pec Patriarchate.

Yesterday in Pristina Ambassador Wisner met with the premier and president of Kosovo, the Kosovo negotiating team, the president of the Liberal Serbian Party and representatives of institutions, political parties and civil society. On that occasion he conveyed the message of the U.S. State Department to his collocutors with respect to the resolution of the future status of Kosovo and Metohija.

Commenting on their joint visit to Klina Bishop Teodosije gave the following statement for the KIM Info Service:

"Ambassador Wisner's visit to Klina yesterday is strong encouragement for the Serb returnees as well as a powerful message to Kosovo Albanians that attacks on innocent people must finally stop. Mr. Wisner emphasized that the perpetrators of the most recent attacks on Serbs must be found because these are crimes that are damaging to everyone wishing a better future for Kosovo. We are especially happy that we visited the home of Milorad Pavlovic and the Serbs in the nearby village of Vidanje together, where Mr. Wisner and his associates had the opportunity to learn first-hand of the problems confronted by Serb returnees. We were all deeply impressed following our visit with the Pavlovices, who despite everything they have experienced demonstrated deep Christian optimism and firm determination to stay and live in their home in Klina. They are true heroes of our times."