Special representatives in Kosovo and Metohija have selectively implemented the Resolution and only acknowledged the Albanian demands, claim members of [the Serbian] negotiating team
by Stana RISTIC
Unfortunately, this has not been accomplished, agreed Aleksandar Simic, advisor to the Serbian Prime Minister and member of the Serbian negotiating team on the status of Kosovo, and Goran Bogdanovic, also a member of the Serbian negotiating team and president of the Democratic Party for Kosovo and Metohija.
During all these years, said Bogdanovic, the Security Council document has been misused by some and interpreted by others to suit their interests, while Kosovo Serbs today remain without freedom of movement and safety. The special envoys of the UN Secretary General in Kosovo and Metohija, beginning with Bernard Kouchner to Soren Jessen-Petersen, notes Simic, selectively implemented Resolution 1244. They were biased and acknowledged the views and demands of the majority Albanian population, while failing to respect the rights of Serbs and other non-Albanians.
For example, the Resolution states that all refugees, expelled and displaced persons have the right to return to their homes. In June 1999, in just two weeks, approximately 800,000 Albanian refugees returned to Kosovo and Metohija. In comparison, in the past seven years, only three thousand Serbs have returned, according to Bogdanovic, while some 230,000 remain displaced today in central Serbia.
Simic explained that Resolution 1244 guarantees the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Kosovo and Metohija. This right has now passed to the Republic of Serbia, as the legal successor of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro.
The resolution also specifically requests that a legal framework for self-administration be adopted in Kosovo; however, during the period that Hans Haekkerup was SRSG, on May 15, 2001, the Framework Agreement was adopted. "During the drafting of the Framework Agreement we pointed out that such a text could lead to the separation of the southern Serbian province from its mother state. However, the international community, especially the Western countries, did not want to hear it. Such an attitude on their part led to the fact that conditions have been set for the creation of an independent Kosovo," claimed Simic.
During the past seven years powers have been gradually transferred to the provisional institutions of self-government in Kosovo, even those that were strictly reserved for the UN special representative in Kosovo. Therefore, said Simic, it is clear that the document (Resolution 1244) was used to create a situation on the ground that is completely contrary to the legal status of Kosovo and Metohija.
Instead of creating conditions for the affirmation of multiethnic Kosovo and Metohija, constant violence against Serbs was tolerated. In Kosovo and Metohija in the past seven years there have been more than 7,000 cases of attacks and threats targeting Serbs. The goal of these attacks, claimed Bogdanovic, is to force the few Serbs who remained in Kosovo and Metohija to leave, too.
The climax of Albanian violence against Serbs was March 17, 2004, when approximately 4,000 Serbs were internally displaced, and about 800 Serb houses and 35 Orthodox churches and monasteries destroyed and torched... Two years after this violence the Serb houses have not been restored. The same applies to destroyed monasteries and churches. We remind [readers] that so far reconstruction has only begun on a few of the [other] 120 churches and monasteries destroyed or damaged in the summer of 1999.
In Kosovo and Metohija Serb representatives have been outside of provisional institutions longer than they participated in their work. The truth, claimed Goran Bogdanovic, is that in the majority of cases the Serb representatives served "as a decoration for democracy in Kosovo", while their requests and proposals were not taken into consideration. However, we have also seen that it is possible to cooperate when this is desired; for example, Bogdanovic pointed out that while he was agriculture minister in the Kosovo Government, budgets in Serb municipalities were increased by 30 to 40 percent...
The mode of negotiation used thus far between Serbs and Albanians in Vienna, focusing on non-status related issues, has collapsed. Aleksandar Simic emphasized that this was not his assessment but that of Javier Solana, the High Representative of the EU [for foreign policy and security] shared in a discussion with Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Solana said that the Vienna negotiations were not well prepared and the UN facilitators in those negotiations were not engaged enough in bringing the Serb and Albanian positions closer.
The Serbian side has proposed direct negotiations at the highest level about the essence, that is, about the status of Kosovo, in a letter from the Serbian president and Prime Minister to the members of the Contact Group.
It would not be good, emphasized Simic, to speculate on what the Serbs could expect from such negotiations. It is known that the law is on the Serbian side. It would not be good if force won and if a solution for the status of Kosovo were imposed. Such a solution, claimed Simic, would not be accepted by the Serbian state. Moreover, it would not be good for stability and peace in Kosovo and Metohija, in the region or in the European Union.
On the other hand, French diplomat Thierry Raynart stated that the demands focus on the rights of minorities. "A lot has been done on the implementation of standards but there is still much work to do," he said. On the list of demands is the creation of a multiethnic, democratic society, respect for human rights and an increase in security.
by P. R.