Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM GW Bulletin 2000/8-4

August 18, 2000

August 2000

TiM Readers' Forum

Your Turn... 

FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONAREADERS' FORUM


HEADLINES

Some reactions to... "Declaration of Independence 2000" (July 4, 2000)

Phoenix - A Million Thanks to One and All!

PHOENIX, Aug. 17 - We wish to thank ALL of the Truth in Media readers who have written back to us about our proposed Declaration of Independence 2000 and have offered to add their signatures to it. We are grateful for your support, but due to the high volume of such mail, we cannot post all your names at the TiM Web site.

So thank you TiM readers - one and all! You can take pride in the fact that there are SO MANY of you who are still prepared to stand up and defend the Republic's original ideals.

TiM Editor, Phoenix, Arizona

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Some reactions to... “British-led NATO Troops Seize Serb Mine in Kosovo (Aug. 15-17, 2000)

Belgium - Kouchner’s Aide Says Serbs Cleansed

Less Than 1,000 Corpses Exhumed, Some Serb

BRUSSELS. Belgium, Aug. 17 - We received the following letter from a TiM reader in Brussels, Belgium, who asked to remain anonymous:

“Reading your last bulletin, I came across the name of Bernard Salomé.  I knew he was working for (Bernard) Kouchner but not as his economic adviser - which will make my story more interesting!

Returning from Kosovo for a holiday, some (people) asked for his (Salomé’s) impressions.  I was with them. The first questions were about the "ethnic purifications" (TiM Ed.: i.e., “ethnic cleansing” - in English).  Bernard S. answered, to everyone surprise (my surprise was to hear this from him) that the "ethnic purifications" were against the SERBS!

“What then about all those corpses and mass graves?,” someone asked.

“Do you know how many corpses we found?” Salomé asked rhetorically.  “Not more than 1,000! Yes, one thousand!  And not all of them were Albanians; some were Serbs!”

“And why does Kouchner not tell the truth?,” I asked.

“Kouchner is too afraid for his career - he is protecting himself!”

Then Salomé told us about the biggest US base which is being built in Kosovo (TiM Ed.: “Camp Bondsteel”), so that they can have control over Eastern Europe and Russia, and block her (Russia) by all means possible (as if he had read your bulletins - actually, afterwards I gave him the TIM website address).

Salomé seemed absolutely sincere.  I asked how he manages (to keep) his career (going) with this type of "politically incorrect" remarks. 

He said that his career is over with the European Union.  As for the World Bank, he is used as a "court jester" (“le fou du Roi”).  “Every big organization needs one,” he said.

Name withheld, but known to TiM, Brussels, Belgium

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TiM Ed.: If only what Kouchner’s aide and the World Bank’s “court jester” had said were a laughing matter.  It hardly is that, as the subject story about the forcible seizure of the Serb mind in Kosovo attests.

But it does represent an important record of the massive deception that the New World Order and NATO leaders used as an excuse to bomb Serbia.

While the bombing was under way William Cohen, the U.S. defense secretary, announced that 100,000 Kosovo Albanian men of military age were missing after being taken from columns of families being deported to Albania and Macedonia. "They may have been murdered," he said. When Yugoslav forces withdrew from Kosovo in June of last year, for example, NATO spokesmen estimated that the Serbs had killed at least 10,000 civilians. 

NATO eventually did wrest Kosovo away from Serbia.  For the time being, that is… The Turks and the Nazis once also controlled Kosovo. It's just that they didn't bother lying or making false claims beforehand.  They just took it.  And then they lost it.  Back to the Serbs, of course.

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Norway - NATO/UNMIK Rob in the Name of Ecology and Pregnant Women: Must Be a First!

NORWAY, Aug. 15 - We received the following letter from Yann Grundt, a TiM reader in Norway:

“Really?  The (NATO/UNMIK’s) concern for the danger of pollution from a plant is really touching when you know their relaxed attitude toward the effects from depleted uranium (DU - used during NATO’s bombing of Serbia).

Ask worldwide for the UN's and Kouchner's concerns about the health of Iraqi children or Kosovo children because of DU.

The gangsters of NATO and UN rob in the name of ecology and pregnant women. It must be a first!”

Yann Grundt, Norway

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California - Kouchner’s/UNMIK’s Pollution Cover Blown

CALIFORNIA, Aug. 17 - The following is an excerpt from a comment we received from Jared Israel, a TiM reader in California, and an Internet publisher himself:

“What is truly amazing is, in a report posted on Emperor's Clothes Feb. 28, (in which) Diana Johnstone (TiM Ed.: a Paris-based analyst) noted that the ICG, an international (TiM Ed.: George Soros-financed) think tank that does some of the thinking for NATO, proposed that the Internationals seize the smelter using an environmental excuse - months ago.

'UNMIK [said the ICG report] and KFOR should implement a rapid and categorical takeover of the Trepca complex, including the immediate total shutdown of the environmentally hazardous facilities at Zvecan'.

In the 'game-plan of measures' recommended by the ICG, UNMIK is advised to instruct a 'Zvecan environmental assessment team' to report on the status of the equipment and thereupon 'advise as to what measures must be taken'...

Environmental hazards are to be the pretext to shut down Zvecan and deprive the last Serbs in Kosovo (TiM Ed.: some 4,000 of them) of their livelihood.”

TiM Ed.: See http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/Johnstone/howitis.htm

“Diana Johnstone (also) cited a second piece of advice in the ICG report. Some advice about the Yugoslav elections. Here's what she wrote:

'''The ICG urges UNMIK to hurry up with the game plan for taking over the valuable mining complex before Serbian elections so that a new government more to the West's liking cannot be accused of 'losing Trepca'. All Serbian leaders, including opposition leaders, the ICG observes, will have to protest when UNMIK takes over Trepca and the Zvecan smelter.

'However they could exploit the argument that the `loss' was due to the pariah status of Milosevic himself, so that once again Serbia has lost assets due to his presence in office. So provided action were taken before any elections in Serbia it need not upset, and might contribute to, any strategy for unseating Milosevic.'''

And lo and behold, this prediction of Diana Johnstone's has come true as well. Because there are indeed elections scheduled soon in Yugoslavia. In those elections, the pro-US 'democratic' opposition (most notably Zoran Djindjic) has more or less lined up behind a politician little known outside Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia.

The 'democratic' opposition is notable for having been promised $100,000,00 by the US Senate last July, a lot of which has been delivered.

In a chilling echo of the ICG report, Kostunica has, sure enough, issued a statement accusing Milosevic of losing (indeed, of 'trading away'!) the Trepca mines.

Jared Israel, California, publisher of http://www.emperors-clothes.com.

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Serbia - Milosevic, Kouchner Both Capable of Dirty Dealing

BELGRADE, Serbia, Aug. 17 - We received the following letter from Mr. Damjan Tatic of Belgrade, Serbia:

“Thanks for the regular supply of valuable TiM bulletins - messages. I always enjoy finding in my E - mailbox :-)

As for Mr Kostunica's claim that Milosevic has jointly planned criminal takeover of "Trepca's" plant, I can't say that I am fully convinced that that was the case. But Milosevic was certainly capable of entering such an arrangement, Kouchner too...

What would be Milosevic's gain from it? To stir up nationalist and patriotic feelings during election campaign, trying to pose as only "true keeper of the flame" of Serbian nation, having yet another reason for launching bitter verbal tirades against KFOR's peacefarce in Kosmet and thus attracting part of the voters that might still be making their minds up between "patriot" Milosevic and patriot Kostunica.

As for your second point, amount of used dinars in circulation in Serbia is not so great, and it would've been much easier for Milosevic to order printing the new ones in Topcider mint than drawing used ones and thus changing the fragile balance on the Serbian market. These freshly printed notes that would go directly to Kosmet would have no direct impact on Serbia's market (perhaps indirect, if "Trepca's" Serb workers would use it to buy goods outside Kosmet ).

Of course, I am not saying that has necessary happened, I just offered some alternative answers to your conclusions Mr. Djurdjevic, keep up the good work.”

Damjan Tatic, Serbia

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Serbia - Other Possible Sources of “Trepca” Dinars

BELGRADE, Serbia, Aug. 17 - And then, there is always the flipside of a coin, as pointed out here by D.N., a TiM reader - also from Serbia:

“1. Republic of Srpska.. Let me remind you... one year ago (as you already noticed), the Bosnian Serb PM Dodik (TiM Ed.: another western quisling) tried to smuggle a lot of dinars into Yugoslavia. Dodik's police officers tried that, and behind them was the USA and CIA. So, the source (could have been) Dodik.

2. Another one source of money (could have been) directly from Kosovo, from branch and offices of Yugoslav National Bank, occupied by KFOR-NATO forces.

3. Money could have (also) come from Montenegro, because they have "Reich's Deutch Marks" from Germany and USA, and they (could have) changed Dinars for DM and US$. They (could have given) Dinars to UN in exchange for the DM and US$.

4. Simply forgery. Yugoslav's Dinars are too easy to be "copied".

5. Croatia (could have been) another one (source) - money captured in Krajina. Now, (Stipe) Mesic, Croatian's President, is a close ally of Milo Djukanovic, Monte Negro's President.

You don't have to be so smart to figure out what the sources of the "Trepca" money could have been. It's not deal between Milosevic and UNMIK or NATO, as DSS and Kostunica said. It's always too easy to put all blame to Milosevic. It was a case of stealing, a classic robbery, done by the UN, NATO, KFOR and Kouchner's serf-Serbs like Nojkic, Artemije etc.”

D.N., Serbia

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California - KFOR/UNMIK "Justice:" Serbs Charged with Murder, Yet U.S. Soldier Admits Killing Albanian in Kosovo

Three Innocent Serbs Who Were Attacked by Albanians Imprisoned for Over a Year; Their Home Burnt Down - Yet No One Charged

CALIFORNIA, Aug. 7 - A TiM reader from California, who asked to remain anonymous, has sent us the following two news stories which illustrate what sort of a "justice" is being meted out by Bernard Kouchner's KFOR/UNMIK courts in Kosovo.  

Three innocent Serbs have been charged with murder and imprisoned for over a year for a killing of an Albanian committed by a U.S. sniper in Kosovo.  Sgt. Robert Black will not be prosecuted since he supposedly acted in "self defense."  

Meanwhile, the Serbs' home and their workshop have been burnt down by the Albanian mob.  And no one, of course, has been charged with that crime.  Welcome to KFOR/UNMIK "justice" in Kosovo!

U.S. Soldier Tells of Shooting an Albanian

GNJILANE, Kosovo, Aug. 7, 2000  - A U.S. Army sergeant testified Monday (Aug. 7) that he shot at an ethnic Albanian last year in Kosovo, according to those who heard his testimony. That evidence may clear a Serb family accused in the death.

Testimony in the trial of the father and his two sons ended with Sgt. Robert Black describing the July 1999 gun battle. At the request of French judge Patrice de Charette, the court traveled to this southeastern town to show where he and other American snipers were deployed.  The trial judge said American troops confirmed they killed two people at the scene that day.

Reporters were not allowed inside the heavily guarded building, but several people who were present said the soldier repeated statements he gave Army investigators detailing how he fired at an ethnic Albanian who had been shooting at U.S. troops.

''I noticed a man in the shed firing at the tower. I fired with my M203, 40mm high-explosive rounds,'' said the written statement by Black that was read before the U.N. court last month. ''The second round exploded inside the shed and I kept up small, suppressive fire.''

United Nations officials say Afrim Gagica was in the shed when he was killed.  

Black is not expected to face charges since the rules of engagement at the time allowed peacekeepers to fire in self defense. 

The case against Miroljub ''Mirko'' Momcilovic, 60, and his sons Jugoslav, 32, and Boban, 25, has dragged on for more than a year, and is considered a test of whether Kosovo's embryonic, internationally monitored justice system can work.

Although Black's statement provides evidence that could clear the Serbs, in Kosovo's ethnically charged climate international officials close to the case have warned it would be difficult for the ethnic Albanian judges to arrive at an impartial verdict because they have to go back and face their own communities.

De Charette said he and the four ethnic Albanian judges who presided over the case would deliberate and announce the verdict on Tuesday. A simple majority is required to rule on the case. 

The United Nations has been embarrassed by the case because information on U.S. soldiers' role in Gagica's death was not released for more than a year, casting doubts on whether Serbs could get a fair trial in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians constitute the majority.

The Albanian prosecutor, Sabit Maliqi, dragged out the case, requesting that the court hear as many as possible of the 37 testimonies from U.S. soldiers involved in gun battles that day. The request to hear more testimonies Monday was rejected. In his closing remarks, Maliqi claimed the distance from Black's position in the building was too far away from where Gagica allegedly was killed.

Defense lawyer Zivojin Jaknovic closed by saying the testimonies given by 37 U.S. soldiers consisting mostly of written statements included in a 130-page U.S. Army report all said Gagica was shot by a U.S. military sniper.

''The U.S. Army doesn't have any reason not to be objective'' about what happened, he said.

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TiM Ed.: What makes the preceding mockery of justice especially interesting is the following story, filed contemporaneously (July 11, 1999) by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, a German news agency.  It says that the U.S. troops shot and killed two Albanians.  Yet three Serbs were arrested and charged with murder.

The German story also shows that the Albanians had started the firefight by attacking the home of the Serb family in Gnjilane.

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U.S. Troops Kill Two Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo

BELGRADE, July 11, 1999 - U.S. KFOR troops killed two ethnic Albanians and wounded several others late Saturday when they intervened to stop an ethnic clash in the small town of Gnjilane in Kosovo, according to the Belgrade news agency Beta on Sunday.

Quoting radio hams in Gnjilane, southeast of Pristina, Beta said Albanians opened fire with automatic weapons on the home of the Momcilovic family, who are Serbs. The hams said the Momcilovics had fired pistol shots, but only in the air to alert KFOR soldiers.

The peacekeepers detained four men they found in the Serb home and searched it and other nearby homes for concealed weapons.

A KFOR spokesman in Pristina confirmed late Saturday that there had been a clash in the town, but said no KFOR soldiers were hurt. An investigation was under way, but would not be completed before morning. He was unable to give any further details."

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TiM Ed. - EPILOGUE: The three Serbs were acquitted by the court on Aug. 8.  But the judges found the three men guilty of illegally possessing weapons, and sentenced them to one year's imprisonment. Having been in pre-trial detention for more than a year, the Serbs have now been released.

As for those Albanians who attacked the Momcilovic home using automatic weapons, they, of course, have not been even charged, let alone imprisoned and sentenced for "illegally possessing weapons."  Nor has anyone been charged for burning down the Momcilovic home and workshop.

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Some reactions to... “Big Brother Resurfaces in Britain, Montenegro” (Aug. 1, 2000)

Montenegro - “In Our Chests Beats Immortal Serb Heart…”

MONTENEGRO, Aug. 7 - The New World Order leaders and their media lapdogs have been trying to make Yugoslavia’s province of Montenegro into a separate “country,” just as they forcibly took Kosovo away from Serbia last year.  But in Montenegro, they will find it tougher sledding.  Many, in fact, most Montenegro residents, consider themselves to be Serbs first and foremost.  And always have…

We received the following feedback from a TiM reader in Montenegro which attests to that:

“Hope you'll include in your analyses and articles about Montenegro the opinion of Montenegrin traditionalists who still consider that ‘in our chests beats immortal Serb heart and Serb blood bubbles’.”

Aleksandar Rakovic, author of Serb Land of Montenegro, http://www.njegos.org/, Director of Montenegrin Department Library of Serb Culture http://www.rastko.org.yu/rastko-cg/ and http://www.rastko.org.yu/

P.S. Official site of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral is http://www.mitropolija.cg.yu/

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Illinois - Report from Rockford Institute’s Montenegro Mission

ILLINOIS, Aug. 5 - The following comment is actually a trip report by Dr. Serge Trifkovic, of the Rockford Institute, whose name should be familiar to the TiM readers by now.  He and other members of the Rockford mission have recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Serbia and Montenegro.

The Rockford Institute

CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

REPORT ON THE VISIT TO SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO, July 23-27, 2000

The immediate reason for the mission was a disturbing communication from Amphilochios (Amfilohije), the Metropolitan Archbishop of Montenegro, concerning a spate of recent attacks on Church property there. In view of our active interest in Balkan affairs and our fruitful past cooperation with the Metropolitan, we have concluded that a fact-finding mission was called for. At a very short notice we have managed to put together a mixed ecclesiastical/secular team that included two Rockford Institute associates (Tom Fleming, President, and Srdja Trifkovic, Director of the Center for International Affairs) and two clerics: Fr. Hugh Barbour, a prominent Roman Catholic theologian from California, and Rev. Bill Hutton, an Anglican priest from Canada who has repeatedly visited Yugoslavia.

In an action-packed week we have visited Belgrade, Podgorica, Cetinje and a host of other locations in Montenegro (Prevlaka nr. Tivat, Budva, Lake Skadar, Moraca Monastery, and Ostrog). Besides our host, Metropolitan Amphilochios, we have met people prominent in politics and business in both Yugoslav republics. Especially useful to us was a long, frank and exhaustive meeting with the Montenegrin Minister of Religion, Mr. Dubak. His views were subsequently confirmed in a brief meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Vujanovic. Our statement on the Church issue in Montenegro is attached as Appendix I.

The highlight of our visit was a well attended press conference at the Montenegrin Government Press Center in Podgorica on July 25, which was followed by considerable media coverage of our statements. The collective view of the delegation was summarized in the opening remarks at the press conference by Dr. Fleming (see Appendix II).

Amidst the constitutional crisis created in Yugoslavia by Slobodan Milosevic’s attempt to manipulate the federal constitution by giving himself unlimited extension of presidential mandates, elections were called during our stay. The immediate decision of the Montenegrin government to abstain from these elections, in view of the way those changes were enacted, was unsurprising. Somewhat unexpected, however, is the speed and seriousness with which the democratic opposition in Serbia has started consultations on a joint presidential candidate who will stand against Milosevic. Dr. Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia has emerged as a front runner. This we regard as a welcome development: Dr. Fleming and Dr. Trifkovic have met Dr. Kostunica on numerous occasions over the past four years and regard him as a politician of impeccable democratic credentials, keen intelligence and high personal integrity.

If the opposition stays truly united, opinion polls indicate that Milosevic may lose the election. It is unclear what will happen then, however: our interlocutors appear certain that he would stop the vote count if it started turning against him, proclaim a state of emergency (note a spate of arrests of “foreign spies and terrorists” in recent days) and rule by decree. Very few people in Yugoslavia see Milosevic’s quiet departure from power as an option. But, they say, at least an unpredictable new situation will have been created. “Anything is better than this long road to nowhere” is a typical refrain.   

Serbian democrats are convinced that a positive sign from the West that sanctions would be lifted in case of Milosevic’s defeat could additionally tip the balance. European Union diplomats are aware of this, and there is increasing discrete pressure from Europe on the United States to help the Serbian opposition by agreeing to relax sanctions on Belgrade, and announcing that they would be unconditionally lifted in case of Milosevic’s defeat.

Several developments in the last few weeks illustrate the new trend. The European Union foreign ministers’ first open debate on the EU policy in the Balkans, held in Brussels in early July, has ended with an admission of failure. The French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine, who chaired the meeting, said there existed “real skepticism” about the sanctions among a growing number of EU member states, and that the policy would have to be reviewed. The Irish foreign minister Brian Cowan, who complained of too much stick and not enough carrot in EU policy, echoed this view:

“We should review the effectiveness of these sanctions, which appear to be impacting primarily on the ordinary people of Serbia. The regime is benefiting through their control of the black market that has emerged in Serbia and it cannot be in our interest to impoverish the country.”

Almost simultaneously, the United Nations special envoy in the Balkans, Slovakia’s foreign minister Eduard Kukan, has called for sanctions against Yugoslavia to be changed. Mr. Kukan, in a BBC interview, said the current sanctions against Belgrade were imposed after the Kosovo crisis, ostensibly to strengthen the Yugoslav opposition and to weaken President Slobodan Milosevic - but they had failed on both counts.

Such sentiments are commonplace in Europe and their public venting is long overdue. As we at The Rockford Institute have repeatedly argued, the first problem with economic embargoes (“sanctions”) is that they are morally wrong: the most vulnerable, and therefore the least “culpable” segment of the target-country’s population will always suffer the most. But even from the purely pragmatic point of view they fail: as the Irish diplomat correctly pointed out, they contribute to the survival of those regimes against which they are supposedly directed. Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein are the most obvious examples, with Slobodan Milosevic a close third. They wipe out the middle classes and help the Mafiosi flourish. They give dictators an undeserved patriotic aura.

More recently, American insistence on other countries’ adherence to the U.S.-led quarantine of Serbia has damaged America’s relations with a whole host of countries. Macedonia, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria all see themselves as the uncompensated victims of Washington’s pig-headedness. According to an American businessman who is quietly scouting Belgrade for post-sanctions opportunities, “The present sanctions regime breed resentment not only among the target population, but also among those who are asked to damage themselves – Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia - in order to help us.”

In conclusion, our mission was a resounding success measured against its primary objective: our concerns have been heard at high levels of government and widely reported in the media, and we have received assurances from the authorities that they will be adequately addressed. In addition, our visit was extremely valuable in providing us with first-hand knowledge of a politically volatile part of the world that will undoubtedly figure prominently in international news over the next few months.

APPENDIX I

STATEMENT BY THE ROCKFORD INSTITUTE TEAM ON THE CHURCH SITUATION IN MONTENEGRO

1. We are fully satisfied that the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral is the only legal, historical and canonical “Orthodox Church” in Montenegro, with a vibrant spiritual life, and a growing body of clergy and faithful whose undivided loyalty is beyond doubt. In addition, the Metropolitanate is a major contribution.  There is no rival group with any legal, canonical, or historical claim.

2. Because the Metropolitanate is an integral part of the Serbian Orthodox Church, it is at the receiving end of persecution orchestrated for purely political purposes by the advocates of full Montenegrin independence. We take no position on the issue of independence, we object to the artificial transfer of political issues to the Church sphere.

3. The so-called "Montenegrin Orthodox Church" is a purely political construct, not an authentic church or a genuinely religious organization in any sense. It is led by a defrocked monk who has been excommunicated - and subsequently anathemized - by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (under whose jurisdiction he used to be). It has no canonically recognized clergy and most of its "faithful" are political activists who have never taken part in Church life.

4. The kind of persecution to which the Metropolitanate is now subjected would be front-page news if the victim was any OTHER group.  We can only imagine what would happen if a group calling itself "Montenegrin Catholic Church" tried to take over Roman Catholic churches in Kotor, Budva, or Bar by force. There would be an international outcry, and rightly so.  When whole parishes have--by overwhelming majorities--tried to secede from the Episcopal Church, American courts have always upheld the bishops in reasserting ownership and control over dissident parishes.

5. We are disappointed by the indifference of Western NGOs, journalists, and other representatives within Montenegro, and by international bodies who have been approached by the Metropolitenate, and who have failed to respond to these outrages.

6. The Metropolitanate has been in the forefront of the struggle for democratic change in Yugoslavia; it has repeatedly condemned Milosevic and it has discretely (as befits the Church) supported President Djukanovic in elections and in his previous showdowns with the Milosevic government.  Djukanovic’s perceived abandonment of his Orthodox supporters is all the more unwise in that it divides the Montenegrin people at a critical time in their struggle for a democratic change that would be free from violence.

7. Canon law apart, the seizure of the church's property is also a gross violation of the rule of law and of the rights of private property. Montenegro should prevent them in the name of those values and ideals that it needs to uphold if it is to become a fully-fledged member of the community of democratic nations.

8. We have been encouraged by the assurances given to us by Prime Minister Vujanovic that similar incidents will not be tolerated, and especially by the detailed and comprehensive explanation given to us by the Minister of Religion, Mr. Dubak. We hope and trust that such statements reflect the collective will of the Montenegrin government.  

APPENDIX II

Press Conference held at the Press Center in Podgorica, July 26th, 2000: Opening statement by Dr. Thomas Fleming:

It's a legitimate question for people in the press and the Government here in Montenegro to know why we have come? People all over former Yugoslavia had to put up with a series of so called experts from the West coming in and telling them how to run their country and how to run their lives. I can assure you that our intention is not to meddle into the internal affairs of the Montenegrin people but to listen and to find out certain things that have been going on. The Rockford Institute of which I am President has a long-term interest both in the Balkans and the intersection between politics and religion. Even in the US some people are beginning to be alarmed by news that we have heard about events here involving the seizure of property and acts of violence against the Orthodox Church.

A group which claims to call itself the "Montenegrin orthodox church" has made certain acts that are against the law in themselves, and also threats of future action. This so called church, which I have not been able to find any canonical or legal status for, has declared its intention to seize legal church property belonging to the Orthodox Church – the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral - here in Montenegro.

What was even more alarming to us when we heard these stories in the US is that relevant government agencies have so far been not able to protect the Orthodox Church or to punish the culprits and those who have been threatening future violence. What's equally disturbing is that some representatives of the international community and various NGOs although they have been informed of the events and the situation have taken the position of equating the legal and legitimate Orthodox church with this invented entity of recent years.

I want to underline the concern of Western Christians we have brought with us both a distinguished priest of the Roman Catholic Church who is also a prominent theologian, as well as the distinguished Anglican priest from Canada. So, our two fathers represent two countries and two faiths. Despite the efforts by the so-called Montenegrin orthodox church to portray itself as the victim of oppression it has in fact no legal claim whatsoever. And if the government is unable to protect the legitimate church it will be conniving at the destruction of an historic Christian church and at the creation of a new artificial body.

Let me give one small example of how such a problem is handled in the US. Even in cases where the entire congregations belonging to Father Hutton's church - Anglican congregations which have tried to separate themselves from the Protestant Episcopal Church of the US - and in cases where the entire congregations and all the people who have put up the money and built the church - when they all wanted to separate the US Government and our courts have always upheld the position namely that the Church Corporation is the owner of this property. And these congregations, I have to say, had good reason and a historic claim for wanting their independence, a justification which I cannot find in the case of the so-called “Montenegrin orthodox church.”

But beyond the question of religion there is a very fundamental question of property and because people in practical politics do not always care about the difference between right and wrong we can put it in far more pragmatic terms. I know it is the desire of the current government in Montenegro to attract foreign investment, and in fact two years ago I came here with an English businessman and a Texas investment banker to investigate the possibility not only of their investment here, but also to encourage others to make their investments into Montenegro. The Texas banker who is a man of vast wealth and great influence was very blunt. He said that until Montenegro developed a respect for private property and a respect for contract law that it would never attract Western investment. If the kind of news that is leaking out about the violations of the property rights against the Orthodox Church becomes more broadly known in the West I think you can kiss the hope of Western investment goodbye.

This is not a question of those who are seeking greater autonomy and independence for Montenegro and those who are resisting it. There are sound practical reasons for the government in Podgorica to distance itself from the government in Belgrade. This is not up to foreigners to pass judgement on, but it only discredits the movement towards the autonomy and independence to confuse the issue by illegal acts.

I am happy to say that we had along and frank session with the Minister of Religion Mr. Dubak. He has assured us that he understands the situation perfectly and that he does not regard the so-called Montenegrin orthodox church as a legitimate church. He also said that he will never equate it with the legitimate Orthodox Church in Montenegro adding that he can assure us that Montenegrin Government will make every effort to protect property rights and the legitimate interests of the Orthodox Church. We look forward in the near future to seeing the proof of this conviction.”

Dr. Serge Trifkovic, Rockford Institute, Illinois

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Phoenix - An Appeal for Release of Serb Prisoners in CroatiaAug. 19, 2000 

PHOENIX, Aug. 19 - This is an appeal to all readers which we have received from the webmaster of the Serbian Chetniks organization:

"Please take the time to read, sign and forward the petition provided through the link provided below. Concerned Serbs from Canada and the USA are seeking the release of 12 Serb prisoners of war unlawfully detained in Croatia in a letter addressed to the American ambassador in Zagreb."

www.serbianchetniks.com/srbija/petition.htm 

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