Kosovo: Terror on Rise Ahead of Security Council Meeting, Serbs Warn

Published on June 19, 2006, ADN Kronos Internatioal (Italy)

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

Belgrade, 19 June (AKI) - Ahead of a United Nations Security Council session on Kosovo, local Serbs warned on Monday of growing “ethnic Albanian terrorism” in the province which has been under UN administration since 1999. The warnings came the same day as Kosovan police told the SRNA news agency they had found a powerful explosive device on a road some 2.5 kilometres from the Kosovan capital, Pristina, near the building housing offices of a number of international organisations and a Serb police office. Security for Serbs and other non-Albanians has worsened in the last few months as the international community neared a decision on the final status of the province whose overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian majority demands independence, Milan Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb leader, told a press conference in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. In the northern district of Kosovska Mitrovica alone, there have been 70 incidents directed against Serbs, including several murders and woundings, as well as bombings, said Ivanovic, ascribing these to "Albanian terrorism." Ivanovic accused the departing UN chief in Kosovo, Soren Jessen Petersen, of lobbying for the Albanian cause and of misinforming UN secretary general Kofi Annan on the situation in the province. Petersen, a Danish diplomat who leaves his post this month, will submit his final report to the UN Security Council - the UN's top decision-making body - on Tuesday. Serbian officials, who oppose Kosovo's independence, suspect that Petersen will present what they see as a false picture of the situation in the province in order to enhance the case for independence. Annan has already submitted his report to the Security Council, saying that the situation in Kosovo has improved, Ivanovic told reporters. Annan's report was based on a "false report by Jessen Petersen," said Ivanovic. Another Kosovo Serb leader, Marko Jaksic, said two-thirds of Kosovan Serbs have left the province since 1999, with just 100,000 having remained in the province, living in isolated enclaves without basic security and freedom of movement. Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo live in conditions that are "ten times worse than those of Albanians during the rule of (late Serbian president) Slobodan Milosevic,” Jaksic said. Serbian Orthodox Church Kosovo bishop Artemije pointed out that 150 Orthodox churches have been damaged and destroyed since 1999, and the "Serbian church heritage in Kosovo has been endangered to the point of destroying all traces." The influential German daily Die Welt also criticised Petersen in an article on Monday, saying he has become increasingly aggressive in supporting the ethnic Albanian cause before his departure at the end of June. Belgrade has disputed Petersen's claim that great progress has been made in the Kosovo in last two years, saying that barely 10,000 Serbs of the 230,000 who have fled the province since 1999 have returned there. In a strongly worded letter to Jessen Petersen earlier this month, the Serbian government's coordinator for Kosovo, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, told him the province is a 'black hole' for Serb human rights and that Serbs there risk annihilation. Since the continuing talks on Kosovo's final status started last October, more than 180 ethnically motivated incidents against Serbs have taken place. Some 3,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have been killed or listed as missing since UN took control of the province. (Vpr/Ajd/Aki)

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