Serbs have been ethnically cleansed in Kosovo - Dacic at UN

Pristina's representatives "continue to pile on the (UN Security) Council falsehoods and lies and have lately engaged in outright propagandizing."

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug
(mfa.gov.rs)
(mfa.gov.rs)

This is what Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told the Council late on Thursday European time, as it convened to consider UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's latest report on the work of the UN mission, UNMIK, in Kosovo.

Dacic stressed that ethnic Albanians were implementing a nationalist policy aimed at unifying into one state all the territories where they are a majority.

Anticipating that Pristina's representative at the meeting "will, presumably speak about genocide and ethnic cleansing again," Dacic described it as "just another propaganda exercise and a lie," and added:

"The basic definition of genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing is a destruction or expulsion of population. Serbia's representatives are on record of stating, million upon million of times, that each and every crime should be punished; yet, history does not record a 'genocide' after which members of the people which allegedly committed a genocide are ten times less in number than before, while the number of the people against which the genocide has allegedly been committed is substantially higher than before."

In his address, the Serbian minister also noted that Pristina, a town where 43,000 Serbs lived in 1981, 20 years later has 430.

"One hundred times less, ladies and gentlemen! In 1981, 140,043 Albanians lived in this city and in 2011, 194,953. Now then, is it a genocide, crime or ethnic cleansing of Albanians? In 1981, 18,285 Serbs lived at Urosevac, in 2011, 32, six hundred times less. In 1981, 17,791 Serbs and Montenegrins lived in Pec, in 2011, 332," he said.

Dacic also said that "in the interest of regional stability and ever better Serbian-Albanian relations, the Republic of Serbia will continue the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina" and "continue the policy of peaceful settlement of conflicts by addressing normalization of relations responsibly and implementing the agreements reached in Brussels fully."

"We do not want the situation in Kosovo and Metohija to be a latent threat to the stability and progress of Serbia and the region and shall work, in good faith, on solving disputes peacefully, well aware that a long process lies ahead in which, to make things worse, we often lack a collocutor to share with us a vision of a prosperous and politically forward-looking region," he said.

Dacic reiterated that based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo in an integral part of Serbia,

"Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I call on the countries that have not recognized the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo to persevere, despite the pressures that many of you are exposed to, in your consistent respect for international law, United Nations Charter and the supreme authority of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security, the UNSCR 1244 (1999) of which upholds the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia," Dacic told the Council.

As for Ban's report, Dacic said it was "structured somewhat differently from the previous ones," adding:

"It introduces new sections, on normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština and partnership and cooperation, for instance. In the part related to the normalization of relations, the importance of the Community of Serb Municipalities is presented inadequately; reduced, it appears, to an administrative item, it is fleetingly referred to in paragraphs 18 and 19 of the report."

Speaking about the situation in Kosovo, the minister described as "inadmissible" the numerous cases of desecration, destruction and attacks on Serbian cultural and religious sites, "as well as the spreading of falsehoods, such as the one that mass graves are located by the Church of Christ the Saviour in Pristina."

"To the distance traversed to deny the rights to the Serbian community testifies Pristina's ban of the import of textbooks in the Serbian language into Kosovo and Metohija. It existed also before, albeit sporadically, but the confiscation of all books in the Serbian language became a regular practice at the beginning of June wherefore the St. Vitus Day Book Fair, scheduled to take place at Gracanica from 15 June to 1 July, had to be called off," Dacic said.

Beside Dacic, the meeting in New York was also attended by Vlora Citaku, the ambassador of the self-proclaimed Kosovo to the United States, and UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin. UNSC ambassadors also took part in the debate.

Ban Ki-moon's report covers the period from April 16 until July 15, and states that no major progress had been made in the implementation of the agreements reached by Belgrade and Pristina, while the two parties were exchanging recriminations for their failure to deliver.

Ban "reconfirmed their commitment to the dialogue, but he also urged Belgrade's and Pristina's leaders to demonstrate fresh creativity, flexibility and a readiness for compromise, in order to make progress in the dialogue that would benefit all of the involved parties, and set Kosovo and the region on the path to stability and development."

There were no high-level meetings during the period covered by the report, even though four technical meetings took place, the secretary-general concluded in the report.

Pristina insists that Belgrade has blocked the implementation of agreements on energy, telecommunications and the opening of the Kosovska Mitrovica bridge, while Belgrade is arguing that Pristina is making it impossible to set up the Community of Serb Municipalities, and is hindering Kosovo's efforts to join international organizations, which affects the atmosphere of the dialogue, Ban Ki-moon concluded in his report.

The report also notes several incidents at religious and cultural sites.

Cornerstone

The Brussels dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina remains a cornerstone of reconciliation, the head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Zahir Tanin told a UN SC meeting Thursday.

Speaking from Pristina via a video link, he said Serbian leaders in Belgrade had told him success in the dialogue was a necessity.

PM Aleksandar Vucic has particularly stressed that too much time is being wasted and that a more serious commitment to dialogue is needed, not only on the part of leaders and negotiators, but also the EU and everyone in the international community, he said.

The region's European perspective is still the main driving force behind reforms, he said.

The establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities requires additional efforts and pragmatism on both sides is important to deepen this process, Tanin said.

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