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Thirty headstones destroyed at cemetery in Staro Gracko

LIPLJAN, June 20, 2006 (BETA) - At least 30 headstones have been destroyed or desecrated at the Orthodox cemetery in the village of Staro Gracko, near Lipljan, Serb sources from central Kosovo told BETA on June 20.

The torn down headstones were noticed by farmers from Staro Gracko in the morning on June 20. They believe that the headstones were destroyed sometime since the June 10 All Souls' Day.

The Serbs from this isolated village in the Lipljan municipality some 10 days ago prepared to visit the graves of their loved ones for the memorial, but while cleaning the cemetery they found some 10 landmines placed in it.

KFOR deactivated the mines, but the Serbs were still too afraid to visit the cemetery. The villagers did not notice the ruined headstones at the time. The destruction of the headstones and desecration of the Orthodox cemetery have been reported to KFOR and the police, who have launched an investigation.

Bishop Teodosije says church in Obilic damaged

DECANI, June 20, 2006 (BETA) - Bishop of Lipljan Teodosije on June 19 confirmed that the Orthodox church of the Holy God Mother in Obilic has been damaged and fiercely criticized and denied allegations by the Human Rights Protection Committee in Pristina that the attack was made up.

A news release carried by the Kosovo Information Service says that the crosses on the side domes survived the March 2004 violence and adds that "claims that the crosses were removed during the March riots and that no new damage has been done are completely untrue and preposterous."

Bishop Teodosije said that the Human Rights Protection Committee's statement "is a scandalous attempt at justifying violence against Christian holy places and directly contributes to creating an atmosphere of hatred and intolerance." "Denying the crimes that were committed is the same as being involved in them, which is why the Serbian Orthodox Church expects the committee to publicly apologize," Teodosije underscored.

The Pristina Human Rights Protection Committee on June 19 said that the church in Obilic had been damaged during the March 2004 violence and that "no new damage has been done."

A news release from the committee also says that the information on the damage done to the church is part of "the Serbian media's false reporting."

70% of Standard I tasks have been fulfilled

PRISTINA, June 20, 2006 (KosovaLive) – The Working Group for implementation of Standard I – Functioning of Democratic Institutions – said at the meeting that 70% of this standard has been fulfilled.

They evaluated establishment and the functioning of offices where the institutions could file their complains over the work of institutions, as the biggest achievement.

Hasnije Ilazi, the advisor to Kosovo’s Minister of Public Services, Melihate Termkolli said that the latest reports prepared together with UNMIK indicate that 70% of the Standard I has been fulfilled, whereas the work for accomplishing of the rest is still underway.

Batakovic says not much support for Belgrade's arguments

BELGRADE, June 19, 2006 (BETA) - Adviser to the Serbian president and member of the Belgrade negotiating team in the talks on the status of Kosovo, Dusan Batakovic, said that he is "a moderate optimist" when it comes to the protection of Serb churches and cultural heritage in Kosovo.

Appearing as a guest on the Frankly on Kosovo TV show, he said that in the recent negotiations on the protection of cultural heritage with the Albanians, "no agreement was reached on how many locations and historical monuments should be protected. We presented a list of around 40 locations while they believed that protection was necessary for five large monasteries in Metohija, which are surrounded by Albanian inhabitants."

According to him, it is very important, regardless of Kosovo's final status, for the Serbs to be granted the right to be considered a constituent people in Kosovo.

"And when some foreigners tell me that there are very few Serbs there, I reply that we will not agree to the results of ethnic cleansing, because all of the Albanians have returned to Kosovo, but very few Serbs have -- just one or two percent," Batakovic added.

Church in Obilic demolished

BELGRADE, June 19, 2006 (BETA) - Unidentified perpetrators during the weekend demolished the Serbian Orthodox church of the Birth of the Holy Mother of God in the town of Obilic, KIM radio has reported.

The perpetrators took the crosses from the church's four small domes, the water drain pipe from the right side of the church and a portion of the copper roof.

The church is surrounded by double lines of barbwire and the perpetrators placed wooden boards on it to enter the church grounds and then used ladders to climb onto the church, leaving all windows smashed and taking all inventory from the church.

The church was set on fire on March 18, 2004, during the Albanians' attacks on the Serbs.

Prime Minister condemns attack on British tourists

PRISHTINA, June 19 2006 (KosovaLive) – Kosovo’s Prime Minister Agim Ceku expressed his indignation over the attack against the two British nationals that took place last week near Decan.

“This attack is unacceptable and directed against the positive processes in Kosovo,” the Government Information Office quoted Ceku as saying.

“This act is as an effort to diminish the progress made in building a democratic and tolerant society and a future for all Kosovo citizens,” reads the press release.

Jessen-Petersen postpones local election in Kosovo

PRISTINA, June 19, 2006 (BETA) - The U.N. general secretary's special envoy for Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen, signed during the weekend a decision to postpone local elections in Kosovo, UNMIK has announced.

UNMIK's news release said that the decision envisages that the elections be held no later then 12 months from the date they were originally due.

According to the decision local elections should not be held less than three months and more than six months after the U.N. Security Council establishes Kosovo's political status.

"I am convinced that the decision to put off the local vote will be in the interest of all communities in Kosovo. It will enable [the two sides] to focus on the status negotiations," the announcement quoted Jessen-Petersen as saying.

According to the Constitutional Framework, local elections in Kosovo are to be held every four years. The postponed vote was due this autumn.

AP wins Best Airport 2006 Award

PRISHTINA, June 19 2006 (KosovaLive) –The Airport of Prishtina (AP) has won the ‘Best Airport 2006 Award’ among 400 airports of 45 European countries at the Gala Dinner of the 16th Airports Council International (ACI) EUROPE Annual Congress in Athens on Thursday.

Airports across Europe once again competed in the ‘ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards’ for the prestigious title of ‘Best Airport 2006’. Airports Council International is the only worldwide professional association of airport operators

Winning airports were selected for excellence and achievement across a range of disciplines including airport development, operations, facilities, security and safety, and customer service. Five winning categories were split according to annual airport passenger numbers: over 25 million passengers, 10-25 million passengers, 5-10 million passengers, 1-5 million passengers and airports under 1 million passengers. AP was pronounced winner of the ‘Best Airport 2006 Award’ in the category ‘Under 1 million passengers per year’.

AP Managing Director, James Johnson, accepted the award at the event. “I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of the airport team and the community that we serve. Prishtina International Airport has a unique history and has undergone an extraordinary transformation from a military to a civilian airport. ACI’s ‘Best Airport 2006 Award’ recognizes this development. This is a great day for Prishtina International Airport,” he commented while receiving the award.

Nine candidates for the post of UP Provost

PRISHTINA, June 19 2006 (KosovaLive) – Nine candidates are running for the post of provost, the University of Prishtina officials reported.

The deadline for submitting applications expired on Friday 16:00 hours.
UP Secretary Destan Halimi said that Muhamet Mustafa, Nexhmi Rexha, Mujë Rugova, Salih Gashi, Ramadan Zejnullahu, Ismail Hasani, Isak Shema, Rashit Alidema and Enver Hasani have submitted their applications for the post.

The interview with the candidates will take place by Wednesday.

High Security Council for Communities set up

PRISHTINA, June 19 2006 (KosovaLive) – Kosovo High Security Council for Communities held its inaugural meeting on Friday.

The Council will be chaired by Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku. It is comprised of the Head of UNMIK,COMKFOR, Police Commissionaire, Deputy Police Commissionaire, KPC Commander, UNMIK Liaison Officer to KPC, OSCE, UNDP and UNHCR representatives.

Çeku said that Council’s primary role will be evaluation of the situation of security and recommendation of measures.

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Speech by Don Shan Zefi, Chancellor

Opening of Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence and Dialogue
Monastery of Pec Patriarchate
Peja / Pec, May 2 - 3, 2006

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