Daily Survey

 

Belgrade, 25. 02. 2008.

C O N T E N T :

SERBIA-GOVERNMENT REACTIONS ON KOSOVO AND METOHIJA INDEPENDENCE


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INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS


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SERBIAN PROTEST TO RUSSSIAN STATE TV


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SERB PROTEST AGAINST KOSOVO AND METOHIJA -INDEPENDENCE


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SERBIA – EU


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KOSOVO AND METOHIJA - SECURITY


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SERBIA - ECONOMY


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SERBIA-GOVERNMENT REACTIONS ON KOSOVO AND METOHIJA INDEPENDENCE

TADIC: DEFENSE OF KOSOVO AND EUROPEAN PATH MAIN AIMS

BUCHAREST, Feb. 22 (Beta) - Serbian President Boris Tadic on Feb. 22 told Romanian national television that Serbia now has two aims to defend Kosovo and to continue on its path to the EU.

In the interview, Tadic said that he respects the fact that Romania, as an EU member, has taken a principled stand in respecting international law, not accepting the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo. The Serbian President stressed that recognition of the Serbian province's independence also means the violation of international law.

Assessing that "luckily, not all countries have recognized Kosovo's independence," he added that Serbia will never accept the unilaterally proclaimed Kosovo's independence, as Kosovo is a Serbian province.

The act of Kosovo's independence distresses Serbs, Tadic said and underlined that he is also struck by it, but that people should protest peacefully and with dignity, instead of reacting with their emotions.

In the evening of Feb. 21, before returning to Belgrade from his official visit to Romania, Tadic told the press in Bucharest that violence only damages Serbian identity and sovereignty, as well as the defense of Kosovo.

The Serbian President asked all institutions in charge to submit reports on Belgrade riots, due to which he called a National Security council session. Tadic sharply condemned the violence, pillaging and torching which had taken place on the streets of Belgrade, causing the death of one person. "There is no justification for violence, no one should even try to justify what happened yesterday," Tadic stressed, as reported by his press service.

KOSTUNICA CALLS ON US TO ANNUL DECISION ON KOSOVO

BELGRADE, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called on the United States on Sunday to annul their decision on recognizing the independence of Kosovo and Metohija and reestablish the rule of international law.

"The United States should annul the decision on recognizing a false state on the Serbian territory and create conditions for the Security Council to confirm the validity of Resolution 1244 which guarantees Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Kostunica told Tanjug. "This is the right way to reestablish the fundamental principles of international law and the UN Charter in the Balkans," the Serbian prime minister said. He underlined that responsibility lay with the US to make it possible for things to return to their previous state and to ensure, by a confirmation of Resolution 1244 at the SC, that stability and peace be regained in the region. "Otherwise, a continued policy of force will only deepen the crisis which undermines the foundations of the entire world order and threatens to jeopardize peace and stability, not only in the Balkans," Kostunica stressed.

The prime minister pointed out that the Serbian government highly appreciated the stand of a vast number of countries that had not recognized the existence of the false state on the Serbian land.” All these countries are in this way defending peace, stability and freedom, as the highest values of the modern world," Kostunica underscored.

SAMARDZIC: GOVERNMENT WILL NOT STOP SINGLING OUT US

BELGRADE, Feb 23 (Tanjug) - Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Slobodan Samardzic has said that the "Serbian government will not stop singling out America as being responsible for the violation of international law and the brutal snatching away of part of the Serbian territory." Commenting on the statement by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Belgrade had not undertaken adequate security measures during the unrests, which, as she put it, had made it possible for the demonstrators to attack the US Embassy, he draw the attention to the fact that the " United States of America is the one that has to be blamed the most for all the misfortunes following February 17." "The cause of all the violent acts is the brutal violation of international law, and this is where the chain of the events that are happening in Kosovo and Metohija starts," Samardzic told Tanjug. He added that the Serbian government would do all in its power so as to keep the situation in these difficult circumstances under control and prevent violence as means of the fight for the preservation of Kosovo and Metohija.

POPOVIC: INDEPENDENT KOSOVO TO BE ECONOMICALLY UNSUSTAINABLE

BELGRADE, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - Head of the Economic Team for Kosovo-Metohija Nenad Popovic has said that from the economic point of view, an independent Kosovo would be absolutely unsustainable. In an interview for the Sunday issue of the Belgrade daily Politika, he said that what proved this was the fact that some 60 per cent of the people in Kosovo were unemployed, and that more than half of them were less than 35 year old.

"In all parts of Kosovo and Metohija electricity production has been reduced by three times when compared with the period before 1999, factories are closed or operate with only 10 per cent of the capacity," Popovic added. According to him, there are no foreign investments and there will be none in the future now that the illegal independence of Kosovo has been declared. The economic development of Kosovo and Metohija is possible only within the frame of the constitutional and legal order of Serbia, Popovic said and pointed to the fact that the economy of the southern Serbian province had always depended on Serbia proper. Popovic also said that organized crime, corruption and violation of basic human rights represented a great problem for Kosovo.

INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS

RICE: SERBIAN GOVT RESPONSIBLE FOR ATTACKS ON EMBASSIES

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (Beta) - The U.S. holds the government of Serbia responsible for the attack by demonstrators on the American embassy in Belgrade, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated on Feb. 23.

Rice told journalists that the Serbian government failed to protect the U.S. Embassy, as well as the embassies of other Western countries, from protesters dissatisfied with the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.

The U.S. thinks that Kosovo should be a member of the U.N. and it will support that goal, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Feb. 22.

Burns assessed that perhaps a certain amount of time would be required to achieve that, as some countries might temporarily choose to block Kosovo, but that in the end Kosovo would become a full-fledged member of the international community.

MUNTER ASKS BELGRADE TO PROVIDE SAFETY

BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Beta) - The U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Cameron Munter on Feb. 24 asked Serbian leaders to provide safety, in order to prevent violence against diplomatic missions from occurring ever again.

In an interview given to Associated Press, Munter said he was angry due to the riots, which had caused damage to the U.S. Embassy premises in Belgrade, and that he expects the Serbian government to prevent that from ever happening again.

"I am very angry at what happened," Munter said of the riots, and added that "it had better not happen again." Munter invited Serbian officials to condemn violence and promise it will never reoccur.

In the riots which took place in the evening of Feb. 21, after the protest called 'Kosovo is Serbia,' the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade was torched, in which one person, Zoran Vujovic, died. Munter said that Vujovic "had no contact with any security personnel of the Embassy" and explained that "he tragically fell victim to the fire set by the attackers." The U.S. State Department responded to the attack at their Embassy in Belgrade by ordering the evacuation of nonessential personnel, while the Ambassador and the crucial staff members remain in Belgrade.

Although Serbia has withdrawn its Ambassador to the U.S. in protest of U.S. support to Kosovo, Munter said he does not plan to withdraw.

Associated Press added that he took to task some ministers in the government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and other nationalist politicians who had "defended the riots by describing them as a legitimate form of protest over Kosovo's declaration."

He considers "that kind of incendiary language ... not only wrong but also embarrassing, leading further to the diplomatic isolation of Serbia which is in nobody's interest."

PUTIN WARNS OF DANGER OF KOSOVO PRECEDENT

MOSCOW, Jan 23 (Tanjug) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the Kosovo precedent was a "terrible precedent" which "will de facto destroy the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries."

This precedent will, beyond any doubt, cause a chain of unforeseeable consequences, Putin said during his talks with the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Speaking about the countries that have recognized Kosovo, the Russian president underlined that those who were doing that, relying solely on the their strength and subjugating the will of their satellites to their own, did not think of the result that would cause, the Russian Channel One reported. "At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face," Putin said.

SAFONOV: KOSOVO RECOGNITION TO TRIGGER SEPARATISM, TERRORISM

MOSCOW, Feb 23 (Tanjug) - Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation in the Fight against Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime Anatoly Safonov compared on Saturday the declaration and recognition of Kosovo independence with the Munich conspiracy of 1938, and warned that the Kosovo case might trigger separatism and terrorism in Europe. The trigger has been pulled in the (Kosovo) case and no one knows where the bullets will go, he told Interfax.

According to him, there is a danger that Kosovo lets lose a strong destructive machinery, whose consequences cannot always be foreseen. A rise of separatism and terrorism in Europe because of Kosovo is inevitable, the representative of the Russian president holds. Many countries view separatism and terrorism as two sides of the same medal, Safanov said. It is clear that terrorist tendencies are increasing, he said, pointing out that a violation of international law could not but have such an effect. The position of the US, which is far away, is more or less clear, Safanov said, but added that he did not know what the Europeans were thinking about.

ALEXEYEV: RUSSIA NOT WILLING TO CHANGE POSITION ON KOSOVO

BELGRADE, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - Russia is not willing to modify its positions on Kosovo and Metohija, which are very consistent, Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Alexander Alexeyev said on Sunday. In an interview with Radio Belgrade, he said that Russia and Serbia should define what their joint policy should be in the future and which additional steps the two countries should make.

Alexeyev assessed that the Monday visit of Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Belgrade was very important, particularly for Serbs, but also for Europe. Medvedev, who is also the chairman of gas giant Gazprom, will meet with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, the Russian ambassador said.

During his stay in Belgrade, Medvedev will be accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and several other officials who are in charge of certain economic issues that are of great importance for our bilateral relations, Russian Ambassador Alexeyev said.

IF NATO TAKES ALBANIANS' SIDE, TALKS TO FOLLOW IN UN SC

MOSCOW, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - In case that NATO's forces in Kosovo and Metohija go beyond their mandate and take the side of the Albanians in that conflict, talks will have to be held with Russia not in Moscow and not in Brussels, but rather in the UN Security Council, Russia's permanent representative to the Alliance Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday, in a broadcast by the Russian-language news channel Vesti.

In that case, we will have talks in New York, at the UN SC, where we have the seat of a permanent SC member, regardless of all the grave consequences this might cause for our friends and our enemies, Rogozin said. Speaking about the possible arrival of Russia's peacekeepers in Kosovo, Rogozin said that only the president of Russia could decide on that. The Russian diplomat added that Russia possessed enough political and moral authority so as to avoid the use of force.

KLAUS UNDERSTANDS SERBIA'S DISAPPOINTMENT

PRAGUE, Feb 22 (Tanjug) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Friday he fears future developments in Kosovo and the region following the unilateral declaration of independence of Serbia's southern province and expressed his understanding of the Serb people's frustration and disappointment.

The Czech Republic's reaction to Kosovo developments should be formulated and timed in a way to contribute to pacifying the situation, certainly not to an escalation of the conflict, he said answering a letter by Czech Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip. Klaus expressed his conviction that the Czech government is aware of these circumstances and will consider them when taking a decision.

FICO: KOSOVO RECOGNITION - VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

BRATISLAVA, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - The recognition of Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence by some countries represents a serious violation of international law, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has said in a broadcast by the state radio.

If this serious mistake is not corrected, we will not be able to recognize Kosovo as an independent country, because we reject the unilateral declaration of independence, Fico said.

VUJANOVIC: MONTENEGRO TO BE LEVEL-HEADED IN REGARD TO KOSOVO

PODGORICA, Feb 23 (Tanjug) - Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic said on Friday that Montenegro would be careful and level-headed in regard to Kosovo. Vujanovic told reporters in Bar, where he began his campaign for the presidential elections that are scheduled for April 6, that civic peace in Montenegro had not been threatened because of the events in the neighboring region. He underlined that Montenegro's officials "pursued the state policy with great care, paying particular attention and care to the Kosovo issue. He added that Montenegro "has to have a good communication with Serbia" and reiterated that "Montenegro and Serbia should be an example of friendly relations."

SERBIAN PROTEST TO RUSSSIAN STATE TV

NOTE OF PROTEST SENT TO RUSSIAN STATE TV

BELGRADE, Feb 23 (Tanjug) – Upon the demand of Foreign Minister of the Republic of Serbia Vuk Jeremic, the Serbian Embassy in the Russian Federation sent on Saturday a note of protest to the editor-in-chief of the Russian state TV on the occasion of the insulting commentary by Konstantin Semin, a journalist of that media house.

In the note of protest, it is specified that Serbia finds as absolutely unacceptable the commentary of journalist Konstantin Semin, in which he insulted and justified the murder of democratically elected prime minister Zoran Djindjic and made insulting comments on his account, the Serbian Foreign ministry underlined in a statement. The letter expresses disappointment over such a commentary broadcasted by the Russian state TV, which has occurred at the moment when Serbia is faced with the problem of preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Embassy of the Republic of Serbia has demanded that the Russian state TV distances itself in public from the comments of journalist Semin, as well as that the Russian public be informed of the contents of the letter, it is pointed out in the statement.

SCANDALOUS ÐINDIC REMARKS ON RUSSIAN TV

MOSCOW, Feb. 23 (B92, Beta) - A comment about late Prime Minister Zoran Ðindic heard on Russian state television has stirred spirits.

The Russian reporter from the riots in Belgrade Thursday said that the scenes of young rioters on the streets were reminiscent of the October 2000 end of the Miloševic regime, as well as from the period following Ðindic's murder.

At one point, he said that Ðindic was a "Western puppet", who "deserved the bullet".

"Precisely these fans, intoxicated with liberal promises, were saying goodbye to the Western puppet, Zoran Ðindic the man who destroyed the legendary Serbian military and security services, the man who turned over to the Hague the heroes of the Serbian resistance in exchange for abstract economic aid, and who, for this, got the deserved bullet."

"This Serbia voted for Tadic, who, on a day of national mourning, had nothing better to do than travel to Romania. And after all, it is possible to come up with a thousand excuses as to why nothing is being done, but in the end, it's all really very simple: either you stand up or are submissive and quiet," the journalist said.

NGOS PROTEST OVER RUSSIAN TV COMMENTARY

BELGRADE, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - Protesting over the insulting comments at the account of assassinated Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, which were made in a broadcast by the Russian state TV, 18 non-government organizations (NGOs) from Serbia sent on Sunday a letter to Serbian President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.

The NGOs specified that there were reacting on the occasion of the "inappropriate commentary by the Russian state TV, which in its special Vesti Plus programme called premier Djindjic a marionette of the West and said that he got the bullet he deserved." "The Russian government has to give an explanation for the scandalous commentary by the state TV, because otherwise, that would give an impression that the Russian government backs such an interpretation of the assassination of Serbia's first democratic premier," it is pointed out in the letter.

SERB PROTEST AGAINST KOSOVO AND METOHIJA - INDEPENDENCE

SERBS PROTEST THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

BELGRADE, Feb. 24 (Beta) -. In several cities throughout the world, where Serbs live, protests were staged against the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo's independence.

Several hundred Serbs in Belgium on Feb. 24 held a demonstration in front of the European Union headquarters against the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo and the violation of international law, the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, as well as the trampling of basic European values.

Several thousand people gathered on Feb. 24 in peaceful demonstrations against Kosovo's independence in front of United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

In the protest, according to police estimates, some 3,000 Serbs from several Swiss cities participated, as well as from France. The organizers, however, claim that there were about 8,000 people at the gathering, which began at 2 p.m.

About 300 persons organized by Serbs living in Holland gathered on Feb. 24 on a central square in The Hague, in front of the Dutch Parliament, protesting against the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo's independence.

They sent a declaration to the Dutch Parliament demanding that the Netherlands not recognize Kosovo's independence because it is contrary to international law.

Some 200 people protested on Feb. 24 in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens because of Kosovo's independence. There were also members of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group at the gathering.

About 120 followers of the extreme right and representatives of the Association of French Serbs on Feb. 23 protested in Strasbourg, where at the same time a counter meeting was held by the extreme left.

In protests in Vienna on Feb. 24, at which were gathered several thousand Serbs, there were clashes in which two policemen were injured, the police reported.

Demonstrators from several Austrian cities, of whom there were about 5,000 according to police sources and some 10,000 according to the organizers, gathered in the center of Vienna shouting "we will not give up Kosovo."

CROWD IN PODGORICA PROTESTS AGAINST KOSOVO INDEPENDENCE

PODGORICA, Feb. 22 (Beta) - At a rally in downtown Podgorica on Feb. 22, Montenegrin opposition politicians warned the authorities that recognizing Kosovo as independent would be an act of treason.

"We want to tell the Montenegrin authorities: don't you dare recognize the quasi state of Kosovo. However, we know that they have an obligation to their business partner [Kosovo Premier] Hashim Thaci," said Andrija Mandic of the Serb People's Party.

Srdjan Mitic from the Socialist People's Party told the government that all well-meaning Montenegrin citizens would never agree to recognize an independent Kosovo.

Milenko Jovanovic, a representative of the Association of People Displaced and Exiled from Kosovo, said: "I'm not sorry that the enemy embassies were torched, as in 1999 they had poured bombs and poison on us for 90 days."

The speakers also welcomed Russia's support on Kosovo and criticized the leading Western countries for violating international law.

Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija chair Milan Ivanovic said that "Montenegro can never recognize an Albanian state."

Police estimated the size of the crowd at 10,000 people, while the organizers put attendance at 15,000.

Several youths hurled bottles and plastic bags with water at the police. Several small brawls broke out afterwards. The situation normalized without any police intervention.

The crowd was armed with Serbian, Russian, Greek, and Spanish flags, as well as signs with insults aimed at U.S. President George W. Bush, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and Kosovo Premier Hashim Thaci.

SERBIA – EU

EU READY TO OPEN ITS DOORS TO SERBIA, SAYS NO TO VIOLENCE

BRUSSELS, Feb. 22 (Beta) – The European Union has in no way changed its readiness to open its doors to Serbia, to continue the dialogue on doing away with visas and, as soon as that is possible, to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement, but attacks on the embassies of EU members in Belgrade are unacceptable and “violence leads nowhere.”

This was told to BETA on Feb. 22 by Christina Gallach, the spokeswoman of EU High Representative Javier Solana, emphasizing that the statements by Serbian President Boris Tadic, who demanded an end to the violence, were therefore very welcome.

Christina Gallach underlined that some media had incorrectly attributed to Solana the claim that the attacks on the embassies of EU member countries in Belgrade could jeopardize the process of Serbia’s stabilization and association with the EU.

EU High Representative Javier Solana on Feb. 22 condemned the violence in Belgrade, but said that the European Union still wants to sign the political agreement with Serbia adopted a month ago.

“I’ve already talked about that several times. I think that violence leads nowhere, and we therefore call on all sides to behave responsibly,” said Solana.

HAGUE ASKS EU TO PRESSURE SERBIA

THE HAGUE, Feb. 24 (B92, Sense) - Serge Brammertz gave his first interview as the chief prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal.

After Richard Goldstone from South Africa, Louise Arbour from Canada and Carla Del Ponte from Switzerland, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia now has its fourth and most likely last chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz from Belgium.

"The first priority is continuity in the ongoing activities. As you know, there are still proceedings ongoing in relation to 50 accused at the pretrial, trial and appeals level. The second priority, of course is to arrest the remaining fugitives. And we are asking the support of international community to have the remaining four fugitives arrested."

"It's indeed very difficult for me to imagine that this Tribunal could close its doors one day without having brought to justice those persons. The third priority is of course the interaction with the region, with the prosecutors. The closer we are coming to the final date or the closure of the Tribunal, the more it is important that our colleagues, prosecutors, war crimes prosecutors and local prosecutors, can do their job. And one of my priorities is of course to support my colleagues who are doing a difficult job in a political climate that is not easy," Brammertz said.

The arrest of Radovan Karadžic and Ratko Mladic was high on the priority lists of all Brammertz's predecessors, but to no avail. Brammertz doesn't intend to change the OTP approach to the fugitives' problem, at least for the time being.

"I will off course do what my predecessors have done, which means that I will do everything in my power, everything I can to make sure that these persons are arrested but as you know it will largely depend on the cooperation of the countries in the region and the countries of the international community. So I will remind every day if necessary the international community that it has the obligation to support us in this project and that there can be no longterm stability in the region if those remaining fugitives are not brought to justice."

The new chief prosecutor did not want to speculate what would happen if Karadžic, Mladic and other fugitives were not brought to justice before the ICTY mandate is over.

"I think that we have to put all our energy in having those remaining persons arrested in the near future, so we can't put too much energy today in this future mechanism in case they remain at large. Having said that, I think that the message must be very, very clear that there can never be a safe haven or impunity for the remaining fugitives."

"There must be mechanism in place that those arrest warrants, international arrest warrants will remain valid and that a mechanism, a body is created to make sure that whenever these persons are arrested in the future, they are brought to justice. It's very important that this is clear to everybody, that this is not because perhaps one day Tribunal will be closed that it would be the end for the search of remaining fugitives and in particular Mladic and Karadžic," he said.

After his visit to Brussels where he talked with high representative Javier Solana and Commissioner Olli Rehn, Brammertz is "sure that the Hague Tribunal has full support of the EU".

Like his predecessor, Brammertz stresses the importance of the EU policy of conditioning and putting pressure on the countries in the region. "What we have asked to the countries of EU, the European institutions but also other countries is to use all legal means to put pressure on those who can be helpful in arresting the remaining fugitives. This is the strong message we are giving to everybody. Now, the conditionality, of course if you look into the past, everybody has to agree that the conditionality was very successful in having fugitives arrested."

Brammertz plans his first visits to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade in late February and early March 2008. "I'm looking forward to going to the region to establish my own contacts and to establish a trustful relationship with all the interlocutors from the law enforcement community but also from the political level. While respecting each interlocutor for what he is and what he represents, I will at the same time be very firm in insisting on the necessity and obligation to cooperate with us in order to continue fulfilling our mandate."

"I think it's in the interest of the countries in the region, it's in the interest of the Tribunal, it's in the interest of Europe, it's in the interest of the international community that the Tribunal can complete its mandate in the best possible way and as I mentioned several times the arrest of the remaining fugitives is one of the key elements where we have all together joined the responsibility," Brammertz concluded.

KOSOVO AND METOHIJA - SECURITY

CONFIDENTIAL PLAN PREPARED FOR TRANSFER OF JURISDICTIONS

GRACANICA, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - The EU preparational team, the Kosovo government and UNMIK have drafted a strictly confidential plan for the transfer and implementation of UNMIK's jurisdictions onto EULEX and the institutions of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo and Metohija, and one of its goals is a gradual suppression of the influence of Serbia's institutions, KiM Radio reported on Sunday.

According to this document, which KiM Radio had an insight into, UNMIK officials are taking an active part in the transition of jurisdiction onto the European Union Mission (EULEX). The document represents a transitional plan, according to which the UNMIK administration will openly cooperate with EULEX and transfer its jurisdictions onto it, thus violating Resolution 1244, which is still valid.

The assistant to UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker and official of the Office for Legal Affairs has the task of abolishing the current laws in the economic and fiscal field. The document also specifies in detail the procedures and the deadlines by which the institutions and jurisdictions should be transferred, so that, for example, the St.Sava elementary school in Bresje, near Kosovo Polje, is supposed to be overtaken by the Kosovo Ministry of Education.

FEITH: EU MISSION WITHDRAWS STAFF FROM NORTHERN KOSOVO

PRIZREN, Feb 23 (Tanjug) - European Union special representative to Kosovo Peter Feith confirmed on Saturday that the EU Mission had temporarily withdrawn its personnel from the northern part of Kosovo. We have withdrawn our personnel on a temporary basis, but we will keep one of our offices in the north, he told journalists in Prizren and voiced belief that conditions would soon allow them to continue their activities. An unnamed international official has confirmed in an interview with Reuters that a week ago, a small EU team had been transferred from the northern part of Kosovoska Mitrovica due to security reasons following the ethnic Albanians' unilateral proclamation of independence. Feith called on the Kosovo Serbs to cooperate with the EU Mission. I would like to ask the Serb community to be generous, to turn the page and to look forward to cooperating with us, the Dutch diplomat said.

RUECKER DECIDES TO BAN SAMARDZIC FROM ENTERING KOSOVO

PRISTINA, Feb 25 (Tanjug) - UNMIK Chief Joachim Ruecker has decided to ban Serbian Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Slobodan Samardzic from entering Kosovo and Metohija, UNMIK spokesperson Alexander Ivanko confirmed to Tanjug late on Sunday.

He said that Ruecker had explained his decision with the public security reasons, but refused to elaborate it. Ivanko said that Minister Samardzic had submitted a request two days ago an approval to visit Kosovo and Metohija on Monday, February 25, in order to visit several places in the province.

THACI: PRIMITIVE REACTIONS NOT CONNECTED WITH KOSOVO SERBS

PRISTINA, Feb. 24 (Beta) - Kosovo Premier Hashim Thaci on Feb. 24 assessed that the primitive reactions seen in Belgrade in the past few days can by no means be connected with the Serbian people living in Kosovo and Metohija.

"There are those dissatisfied with the fact that Kosovo is now an independent country, but all of them will very soon adapt to the positive and democratic reality," Thaci said a week after the proclamation of Kosovo's independence.

Thaci said that he follows the events in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica carefully, and added that Kosovo institutions are completely ready to face all potential challenges.

The premier invited Kosovo citizens to believe in a democratic world and Kosovo institutions. "Everything we do will benefit all the citizens and the preservation of Kosovo's territorial integrity. Every part of Kosovo's territory is under full control of NATO forces, UNMIK police and the Kosovo police service," Thaci stressed.

Hashim Thaci condemned the violence in Belgrade, adding that it recalls the time of the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and stated that Serbs should "renounce the mentality of the past."

On Feb. 24, for the first time after the proclamation of Kosovo's independence, he visited the grave of former Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova.

MILOSEVIC: SERBS DID NOT LEAVE KPS

PRISTINA, Feb 24 (Tanjug) - Commander of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica Milija Milosevic has said that the Service is working normally and that its members are still wearing KPS uniforms, the Albanian language daily Koha Ditore reported on Sunday.

Milosevic denied the claims of certain media that Serbs had already left or were about to leave the KPS. He said that the police station he was at the head of was still under international governance and that the police structures in northern Kosovo were part of the international police chain. We are the only station in the north that is under UNMIK's jurisdiction and we will continue to operate in this way because transition is not over yet, Milosevic said, rejecting speculations that that the KPS in northern Kosovo was not receiving orders from the command in Pristina.

SERBIA - ECONOMY

BANKS SAY WITHDRAWAL CRISIS NOT PENDING, PLAN TO STAY

BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Beta) - On Feb. 22, the banks that saw branch offices damaged in the Feb. 21 rioting announced that they have not been hit by money withdrawals, adding that they intend to continue expanding in Serbia.

Rasko Tomasevic, head of PR at UniCredit Banka, told BETA that demonstrators broke windows on the bank's offices on Resavska Street and in Zemun, although both were open for business the following day.

He went on to say that the bank takes in EUR12 million in new deposits every week, adding that last week was no different.

Raiffeisen Bank said it regrets the violence that took place on Feb. 21 and result in damage to numerous foreign and local business offices, including its own.

Although bank executives were unable to provide any damage figures, they stressed that Raiffeisen employs over 2,000 people and serves over 500,000 clients.

Volksbank, unscathed in the latest rioting, did sustain a broken window on Decanska Street on Feb. 17. It added that its business operations in Serbia are perfectly normal, with nothing in the way of withdrawals from residential and business clients.

Societe Generale has said it will stick to its development strategy, adding that its clients have not reacted to last week's events.

POLITICAL INSTABILITY WORRIES FOREIGN INVESTORS

BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Beta) - Foreign investors looking to sink money into the northern city of Zrenjanin said on Feb. 22 that the political uncertainty that has engulfed the country in the wake of Kosovo's declaration of independence has led them to reconsider their plans.

Local administration sources have admitted to receiving inquiries asking for risk assessments. One firm stressed that the political conflict on Kosovo has necessitated the review of its longterm investment plans for Serbia.