August 10th 2007 03:49:09 PM
“No church or monastery has been destroyed in Kosovo since 2004.”
– Nicki Fellenzer, National Guard soldier/spokeswoman stationed in Kosovo
So pay no attention to the following, since desecration does not equal destruction, and “religious site” doesn’t necessarily mean “church” or “monastery”:
Kosovo Police Statistics Show Increase in Attacks on Religious Sites (from the independent internet news agency KosovaLive, via BBC Monitoring):
Latest statistics of the Kosova [Kosovo] Police Service (ShPK), which show an increase of the attacks on cultural and religious sites, are damaging the image of Kosov[o], officials say.
Here comes the obligatory Albanian/NATO disclaimer:
Veton Elshani, a spokesperson for the ShPK, told KosovaLive that most of these attacks have a criminal background and have nothing to do with interethnic relations.
According to the ShPK statistics, since the beginning of the year there were 52 cases of attacks on the cultural heritage sites, 18 of which were successfully resolved by the police.
Let me look into my crystal ball and see if we can’t predict whether there’ll be more attacks on religious sites. Wait — I’m getting something, I’m getting something —
“Certainly, this is provocation. To tell you the truth, we do not feel happy about this. I do not know what the village will do, but this will not remain so,” [villager Bujar] warned, not wanting to comment any further.
More news from the budding multi-ethnic democracy:
Kosovo Albanian “terrorists” said warning against sale of property to Serbs (Text of report by Serbian independent news agency FoNet, July 19)
The Serb National Council (SNV) of Northern Kosovo-Metohija said today that “Albanian terrorist organizations — the Front of National Albanian Union and the Albanian National Army (ANA) — have recently, by threatening with court matrial, warned Kosovo Albanians not to sell their houses and property to Serbs at any cost.”
In a leaflet these organizations are distributing all over Kosovo, Serbs are, according to the SNV, branded as the Albanians’ “centuries-old enemies”, to whom Albanians “must not sell an inch of Albanian soil at this historic moment”.
“Unfortunately, eight years after the conflict, thousands of people continue to live in unacceptable conditions of displacement in Kosovo. They have not seen any remedy against the violation of their housing and property rights and, in many cases, do not enjoy adequate housing conditions,” said Henry McGowen, the Acting Head of the OSCE Mission.
UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker has decided to temporarily put on hold the return of property in Kosovo…Serbia’s state secretary with the Ministry for Kosovo, Dušan Prorokovic, said the decision was “one of the most scandalous in the eight-year history of UNMIK”.
“It awards usurpers, and punished over 25,000 Serb families that applied for the return of their property,” Prorokovic told Beta. He added Ruecker’s decision made impossible for any return of the non-Albanian residents to the province, and legalized the results of ethnic cleansing of July 1999 and March 2004.
The decree was reversed on Wednesday (link no longer available):
Today [Wednesday], UNMIK Head Joachim Ru[e]cker cancelled the provision on suspension of the Kosmet property return, adopted beginning August – communicated his Deputy Stephen Shuck. According to him, today’s decision shows resoluteness of the UN administration and Kosmet institutions to respect the rule of law.
I guess there’s a first time for everything.
And a zillionth time:
Serbian TV reports on plight of Kosovo Serb villagers, June 12 (Link from Hoovers.com, a subsidiary of Financial Times, is no longer available):
[Reporter Ljiljana Jankovic] The village of Gornji Strmac is reached via a steep, barely passable road. Among the remaining 16 households in the village, which is frequently being attacked by Albanians from the nearby Drenica, is the Trajkovic family. They were expelled from the neighbouring Donji Strmac. Their three houses and all movable and immovable property have been destroyed.
[Radivoje Trajkovic] We barely managed to escape. We managed to take two cows. Everything else was left down there and was burnt and destroyed.
I missed this one from December:
Kosovska Mitrovica, Dec 9, 2006 – The Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija stated that yesterday at 5.30 pm unidentified persons blew up rail tracks on the railroad near the village of Mijalic, Vucitrn municipality, Kosovo-Metohija, just a few minutes before a train with Serbs from Poluzje and Plemetina were to pass that way. The rail line from Zvecan to Kosovo Polje mostly transports Serbs from Kosovo-Metohija, according to the statement.
And I missed this one from Reuters in November:
A grenade exploded in a classroom used by Serb children in Kosovo on Tuesday, but the elementary school pupils escaped injury, police said.
A Kosovo police spokesman said the grenade exploded in a stove used to heat the classroom shortly after lessons began at around 7.50 a.m. (0650 GMT) at the Trajko Peric school in the village of Veliko Ropotovo near the eastern town of Kamenica.
“The stove was completely destroyed and some parts of the classroom as well,” said spokesman Veton Elshani.
A Kosovo Serb education official said the children had been moved to another classroom minutes earlier because their teacher was absent, leaving the room empty…
Kosovo is braced for a possible rise in ethnic violence following a move by major powers this month to delay a United Nations decision on the ethnic Albanian majority’s demand for independence from Serbia.
Some 100,000 Serbs live in Kosovo, many in isolated enclaves….U.N. officials say attacks on Serbs are falling, but their freedom of movement remains restricted.
Ah, there are so many things “not happening” in Kosovo. Then again, as the U.N. officials pointed out, this is actually an improvement. And in June there was even some good news for dead Serbs:
Kosovo Serb families have taken over the remains of 253 victims - the Missing Persons Commission continues to search for 570.
…[E]xhumation works [will] begin in some individual and mass grave locations as soon as possible…The last such dig was conducted a month ago in Prizren’s Orthodox cemetery, uncovering 10 bodies of as yet unidentified victims.
Several more bodies found in an Albanian family’s backyard also await identification, while families of five Serb victims will on July 6 be handed the remains of their loved ones in Merdari, on the administrative boundary between Kosovo and Serbia proper.
This is on top of these two mass graves found in 2005:
UN forensic experts are examining bodies found in a mass grave in Kosovo, believed to be Serbs killed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas in 1998.
The grave was found in the town of Malisevo, 45 km (30 miles) south-west of the capital Pristina. If confirmed, this would be the second such find in a month after 24 bodies were found in a cave last month.
This past June 20th was “World Refugee Day.” Who can guess which country in Europe has the most refugees? Excerpt from report by Serbian TV satellite service :
[Newsreader] Today is the World Refugee Day. With some 105,000 refugees and more than 200,000 internally displaced persons [IDP] from Kosovo-Metohija, Serbia is the country with most refugees and IDP in Europe.