Friday, September 23, 2005

Belgrade hosts historic visit by Kosovo minister

BELGRADE, Sept 23 (AFP) -

Kosovo's Culture Minister Astrit Haracia paid on Friday an historic visit to Belgrade, holding talks with his Serbian counterpart about cultural matters, the Serbian government said.

Haracia met with Serbia's culture chief Dragan Kojadinovic in the first face-to-face meeting between politicians from Belgrade and Pristina since the 1999 war ended, a Serbian ministry of culture official told AFP.

Haracia informed Kojadinovic that reconstruction of Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries damaged during the March 2004 anti-Serb violence would start on October 10, the government said in a statement.

The Kosovo minister promised that local institutions in the province would provide 1.5 million euros (1.8 million dollars) in addition to 4.2 million euros already allocated for renovation, the statement said.

Nineteen people were killed, more than 900 were injured and some 4,000, mostly Serbs, were left homeless when Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority exploded in a frenzy of anti-Serb destruction in March 2004.

During the three days of violence, several hundred Serb houses were damaged or destroyed and dozens of Serb churches and monasteries, some dating back hundreds of years, were razed in the worst violence in the province since the 1998-1999 war.

The two ministers also agreed to form joint working groups to discuss the return of documents, historic and cultural heritage taken during the withdrawal of Serb forces from the province at the end of the conflict.

Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since June 1999 after NATO bombing ended a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists who fought against the regime of then-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Senior officials from Serbia and Kosovo have since met several times but under international mediation.


WARchild said...

Do you notice the difference between Serbia and Kosova. One took responsibility although it had no authority and power in its hands to stop the violence and is rebuilding the Serb churches with its own money while the other hasn't even apologized for its crimes and still wants to keep its former victims hostage.

Anonymous said...

The historical churches still lie in ruin, even after the ethnic albanian government was TOLD to use money received by foreign donations to reconstruct.

Nice attempt at twisting the truth