The Episcope of Raska and Prizren, Artemije (Radosavljevic), the president of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, sees the "election" decision of Bernard Kouchner as the only possible compromise solution between the postulates of Resolution 1244 and the assignment of the UN mission in Kosovo. "Even if UNMIK were to forbid federal elections, the authorities in Belgrade would not have to recognize this. Belgrade began its pre-election campaign in Kosovo without waiting for UNMIK's decision," says Bishop Artemije, assessing that the upcoming Yugoslav elections in the southern Serbian province will be "a terrible manipulation of the unfortunate people who remain here".
Vojislav Kostunica, the president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and the presidential candidate of the opposition, besides welcoming "the creation of the possibility for Serbs in the north of Kosovo and in the enclaves to vote as they like," also cited the negative sides of Kouchner's decision. "Voting will obviously take place in private houses because UNMIK has already advised that it will not allow the opening of polling stations in public buildings. Even worse is the fact that voting will take place with ballots and other election materials delivered by officials of Milosevic's regime. No one, practically, will be able to check these and it will be difficult for anyone who does not belong to the Socialist government to control the election process," emphasizes Kostunica.
Andjelko Trpkovic, the chief of the election staff of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), believes that no attempt has been made to explain or clarify the holding of elections in Kosovo. "Kouchner's declarative acquiescence doesn't mean that that elections will actually take place. We don't know the number of polling stations, what is going on with the ballots. The municipal documentation has been relocated elsewhere. Under these circumstances, Kouchner's decision allows manipulation of the number of voters and can be understood as support for the SPS," explains Andjelkovic.
The same doubts are repeated by Slavisa Kostic, president of the regional SNC of Central Kosovo and Momcilo Trajkovic, the leader of the Serbian Resistance Movement and the DOS candidate for a representative in the Chamber of Republics. Both point out that UNMIK at the local level is cooperating with representatives of the SPS and that the leaders of the ruling parties, unlike the rest of the Serb population, regularly are provided with KFOR escorts. Despite doubts in the intentions of the international mission in Kosovo, many, such as Momcilo Trajkovic, nevertheless see the greatest problem in the domestic regime which is utilizing the situation to its own political advantage.
Commenting on the claims of Gorica Gajevic, the SPS secretary general, that 500 to 600 polling stations will be open in Kosovo and Metohija, Momcilo Trajkovic says that voting will be possible only in approximately 100 locations primarily in the northern and central part of the province while in other Serb enclaves, especially in the Mt. Sara region, conditions for elections are practically nonexistent.
Unlike the SPO and the Democratic Opposition of Serbia whose lists of candidates for the federal parliament include representatives of the Kosovo Serbs as well, primarily from the Serb National Council of Kosovska Mitrovica, the regional SNC for Central Kosovo and the Serbian Resistance Movement, the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija has taken the same position with respect to the federal elections as it has toward local elections called by UNMIK for October.
"We cannot participate in these elections because we are denied basic human rights: the right to life, freedom of movement, the right to conduct a pre-election campaign. I don t know how the leaders of the SPS are traveling around Kosovo but I know that those of us who live in Kosovo do not have the freedom of movement, therefore, the possibility to conduct a pre-election campaign, and therefore, the possibility to participate in any kind of elections," explains Bishop Artemije. Representatives of the SNC of Kosovo and Metohija who are also members of individual opposition parties, Rada Trajkovic (Christian Democrats of Serbia) and Randjel Nojkic (Serbian Renewal Movement), say that they rejected the offers of their respective parties to be the candidates in the federal elections, based on the position that the Serbs in Kosovo are not safe.
In addition to intra-Serbian election dilemmas and accusations, another unavoidable factor in the federal election calculations in the Province are the Kosovo Albanians. The Pristina Albanian-language press, as well as Serb sources, write that Kouchner's decision and even more so Milosevic s announced visit, have caused great unrest among the Kosovo Albanians. Predictions that the UNMIK chief would draw the wrath of the Kosovo Albanians upon himself by his decision to allow the elections were confirmed at the very next session of the Kosovo Transitional Council. Kouchner, it s true, did not make any great effort to defend himself from Albanian attacks, citing the authority of his bosses, claim the Danas' sources . The leaders of all major parties of the Kosovo Albanians are in agreement that they will not recognize any elections organized by the Serbs .
Even though SPS officials claim that all citizens will participate in Kosovo elections, including the Albanians, and the state media have even printed the news that election ballots have been printed in the Albanian language, Momcilo Trajkovic claims that this all means nothing.
"The most important thing is that everyone who participates in the election process does so in the best interests of the citizens and of democracy, if that is possible, instead of talking about manipulation. The international community only needs to provide security for the elections that will be organized for all citizens of Kosovo. How this will actually be implemented in the field is another matter. The SPS is helping everyone to participate in elections on an equal basis," stated Zoran Andjelkovic, the president of the Temporary Executive Council of Kosovo, commenting on accusations against the SPS.