22 March 2007

Bishop Teodosije: Stronger guarantees needed for protection of Serbian heritage in Kosovo

Session Of SOC Committee on Kosovo And Metohija

Decani, 29 Dec (KIM Info Service) – On Friday, at the Orthodox School in Belgrade, the Kosovo and Metohija committee of the Serbian Orthodox Church Holy Bishop's council held a meeting, which was also attended by Sanda Rashkovic-Ivic, president of the Serbian Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, and Gordana Markovic, director of the Republic institute for protection of cultural monuments.

Particular attention at the meeting was focused on Belgrade-Pristina negotiations about the protection of Serbian spiritual and cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. During the meeting, Bishop Teodosije, vice president of the SOC Council for Kosovo and Metohija, submitted a 2006 report about the reconstraction of the Serbian churches and monasteries destroyed during the 2004 March unrests. The reconstruction process is continuing in accordance with a Memorandum on Understanding signed between Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and Kosovo interim institutions in March of 2005. The Bishop also informed the members of the Commettee about the problems of illegal construction around Visoki Decani and other Serbian monasteries in the Province.

After the meeting bishop Teodosije told media that the Church will ask from the Office of the UN special envoy for negotiations about the future status of Kosovo "more concrete and stronger guarantees for protection of the Serbian spiritual and cultural heritage, because Kosovo institutions have shown that they are not interested and capable of timely preventing illegal construction around the Serbian holy sites".

 "For us it is very important how implementation of the future agreement on the protection of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija will be implemented and supervised. This is why beside the Commission for Implementation and Monitoring (IMC) which is already planned by Mr. Ahtisaari's office and which will be headed by a high international official, we will suggest establishing two offices for field monitoring of the protected zones. One will be in charge for region of Eastern part of Kosovo and theother one for region of Metohija (Western Kosovo). Both of them would be headed by international representatives," said bishop Teodosije adding that it was due to lack of proper monitoring mechanisms that the local Albanians (usually backed by Municipal authorities) try to create new situation on the ground".

During the Friday session special emphasis were also focuse on the issue of restrictions and management of the protected zones. It was stated that municipal spatial plans cannot ignore the regime of protection zones. On the previous Belgrade held meeting between the Belgrade negotiation team and Mr. Ahtisaari's envoys bishop Teodosije particularly mentioned the case of Decani Municipality, where the zone around the monastery was deliberately assigned by the municipal authorities as an urban zone, which is in open contradiction with the already existing UNMIK Special Zoning Area around the monastery.

Illegaly built structure near Visoki Decani Monastery has not yet been dismantled
KIM Info-service, December 31 2006

According to the order of the Public Prosecutor and the Municipal administration it was decided that the illegal construction of Naim Kuci near Decani Monastery, which was built despite UNMIK's executive decision on protected area, has to be dismantled. On Friday, December 29 members of Kosovo Police and the Kosovo Protection Corps with a bulldozer went in the direction of the illegal restaurant. However, the owner evaded the dismantling saying that he would remove it himself.

However Kuci has not yet dismantled the illegal structure. It remains to be seen whether the Prosecutor's decision will be implemented after the Eid al Adha and the New Year holidays.

Attacked Serb Family in Klina Scared But Does not Consider Leaving
Klina, 29 Dec (KIM Radio)

Vladimir Radosavljevic, and his wife Bosiljka, have told KIM Radio that after the Thursday night attack they are scared but that they are not even thinking about leaving Klina. The Radosavlevic family says that they have returned to Klina from Central Serbia and that they have been living in Klina for 40 years now. Vladimir says that he and his wife remained uninjured thanks to a happy coincidence and that police arrived 30 minutes after the attack.

"It was frightening. Shots were coming from all directions. Through the windows we could see them hitting the house walls. Very few came through the windows and this is what kept us a live," said Radosavljevic.

Currently the Radosavljevic family lives in a house belonging to friends, because their house is currently occupied by the headquarters of the Kosovo Liberation Army veterans. Vladimir says that his family house in Klina was sold in Ulcinj with the help of falsified papers and without his consent.

"All of my estate is here and regardless of the circumstance I will remain here. I have not sold my property nor did I know the man that falsified the papers. I met him in court," explained Vladimir.

Doncic: Situation In Kosovo Is Not Calming Down, Its Actually Deteriorating
Klina, 29 Dec (KIM Radio)

While commenting on the Thursday night attack on a Serbian returnee family in Klina, in a statement for KIM Radio, Stojan Doncic, coordinator for municipality of Klina, emphasized that he will ask representatives of local authorities for immediate action. Doncic says that just like in the rest of the province, Albanian terrorism in this part of Kosovo is not calming down but is becoming more intensified. "A couple of days ago, household of Milja Vulijevic from Vidina was robbed when some calves were stolen from his stable, and this summer Dragan Popovic a returnee from this village was killed. Situation is not calming down, it is getting worst," said Doncic for KIM Radio.

Masked and armed Kosovo Albanian robbers arrested by police but set free by Prosecutor
KIM Info-service, December 31 2006

According to the international sources two Kosovo Albanian males were stopped and robbed by two masked persons when they were driving into the village. The suspects, who were carrying long barrel weapons, took two cell phones, ID cards and €830 from the victims.

On December 28, the Police searched the house of two Kosovo Albanian male suspects and found and seized an automatic rifle, a magazine and 19 rounds of ammunition. The suspects were arrested but by the Prosecutor's order they were later released.

KFOR base in Gorazdevac dismantled too
Gorazdevac, 29 Dec. (Blic, Belgrade)

KFOR does not have any longer its base in Gorazdevac. In recent couple of days the number of soldiers has been gradually decreased from 350 to about a dozen of them, Serbian sources in the province of Kosovo reported to 'Blic'. All armored vehicles left and all equipment was taken away.

'There is feeling of unrest among the people. The Italians that were in the base offered us security within our enclave. We managed to remain here thanks to that base only. The fear is justified because our enclave still has not forgotten the terrorist attack on children when two of them were killed', Bogo Portic, a local man and a father of five says for 'Blic'.
As 'Blic' finds out from UNMIK sources in Pristina, KFOR command is removing fixed checkpoints and intends to provide that only patrols offer protection. Each patrol consists of two soldiers only.

Two days ago 'Blic' reported that armored personnel carriers were removed from the entrance to Pecka Patrijarsija Monastery.

'Members of Italian KFOR are still securing the monasteries of Patriajrasija and Decani. There have been only changes in the method of protection', Italian General Claudio Borecca explained.

General Fröhlich: We Are Not Pulling Back From Orahovac
Prizran, 29 Dec (Politika)

Commander of the Multinational Task Force "South", German general Joachim Fröhlich, denied reporting by a couple of media outlets in Belgrade concerning the news that KFOR forces were pulling back from Orahovac and condemned the harsh reactions of the Coordination centre president for Kosovo and Metohija, Sanda Raskovic-Ivic.

"We are not pulling back from Orahovac. We have just left a house that was in a bad condition, uninhabitable and we couldn't perform our duties there. Although we have left the house we are present in Orahovac more than before, and we can intensify the number of our patrols. That is the real situation in Orahovac", stated Fröhlich.

The German general assessed the warning that Sanda Raskovic- Ivic directed to KFOR Commander Roland Kather, as propaganda and campaigning, stating that this decision "to leave unprotected citizens of Orahovac in the enemy surrounding can have severe consequences". 

"That is propaganda and campaigning because it is known that the elections will be held in Serbia on January 21. This has not happened only in our zone of responsibility but in the other sectors here in Kosovo. Conscientious journalists and politicians if they want to do their job, have to have in mind to deal with truth and nothing else", stated General Fröhlich.

"I feel sorry if they have nothing else to write or talk about. We will stay here, and our task of providing security will continue as it has so far", he added.

Fröhlich assessed that the safety situation of Serbs in Orahovac and other communities in his security zone is good.

"Serbs should not be afraid. We are here to provide safety for them", stated KFOR commander.

KLA Veteran associations cut off contact with Italian KFOR
Express, Pristina, Dec 29, 2006

KLA war associations in Pec announced they have stopped contact with Italian KFOR troops for six months now because, in the words of Nexhmi Lajci from war associations, "it was noticed that Italian troops were more interested in TV advertisements than in direct contacts and concrete engagements".

"It is evident that they [Italian KFOR] are following a biased policy by favouring the Serb entity," Lajci said.

Italian KFOR officials said the allegations are groundless. Commander of MNBW Attillio Claudio Borreca told KosovaLive news agency that KFOR troops are unbiased and work to provide a safe environment for all communities.