‘Letter to Albanian Friends’ from Non-Governmental Organizations in Belgrade

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Belgrade – April 30, 1999

 

Dear friends,

We are writing to you in these difficult moments of our shared suffering. Convoys of Albanians and other citizens of Kosovo, among whom [are] many of you, were forced to leave their homes. The killings and expulsions, homes destroyed and burnt, bridges, roads, and industrial buildings demolished paint a somber and painful picture of Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro, as in indicating that life together is no longer possible. We, however, believe that it is necessary and possible.

The better future of citizens of Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro, of Serbs and Albanians, as citizens of one state or closest neighbors, will not arrive by itself, or overnight. But it is something we can and must work on together, as we have many times in the past, not so long ago.

We know that it will now be very difficult, and sometimes very painful. The example of the German-French postwar reconciliation and cooperation could serve as a model and stimulus.

For the sake of future life together, the pain of crime has to be revealed so that it is, with forgiveness, remembered. This tragedy, yours and ours, personal and collective, is a result of a long series of erroneous policies of the most radical forces among us and in the international community. The continuation of these policies will take both Serbs and Albanians into an abyss. Also, the road of collective guilt is a road of frustration, continuation of hatred, and endless vengeance. That is why this road has to be abandoned.

Our first step of distancing from hatred, ethnic conflict, and bloody retaliations is a public expression of our deepest compassion and sincere condemnation of everything that you and your fellow citizens are experiencing.

As citizens of Serbia, we today suffer destruction and casualties as a result of NATO bombing, armed conflict in Kosovo and long lasting economic and social tumbles under the burden of the dictatorship’s deadly policies.

Ethnic cleansing, NATO bombing and armed conflict should stop because they are not contributing to the solution of the Kosovo crisis but are only making it deepen. There should be no more casualties. All refugees should be allowed to return safely to their homes and live in the manner appropriate for free and proud people.

We are convinced that together we will find strength and courage to step on the road of peace, democracy, respect of human rights, mutual reconciliation, and respect. Dialogue, political negotiations, and peace process have no alternative. For all of us, it is the only way out of the war conflict. It is the safest way to secure the return of refugees to their homes, to renew normal life and activities, and find a solution to the status of Kosovo.

In order to make this happen, we have to join our efforts to end the war conflict, revitalize the peace process and reconstruct, economically and democratically, the development of Kosovo, Serbia, and the entire Balkan region. We are convinced that by joining forces we can contribute to the reaching of a just and rational political solution to the status of Kosovo and build confidence and cooperation between Serbs and Albanians.

[Signed]

Association of Citizens for Democracy, Social Justice, and Support to Trade Unions

United Branch Trade Unions NEZAVISNOST

European Movement in Serbia

Civic Initiatives

Forum for Ethnic Relations

Center for Transition to Democracy-ToD

Center for Democracy and Free Elections

Distrikt 0230 (Kikinda)

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia

Women in Black

Belgrade Center for Human Rights

Students Union of Serbia

VIN-Weekly Video News

Group 484

Yu Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management

Urban Inn (Novi Pazar)

Belgrade Circle

Union for Truth about Antifascist Resistance

Sombor’s Peace Group (Sombor)

Society for Peace and Tolerance (Backa Palanka)

Alternative Academic Educational Network

Socialist Action News

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