WASHINGTON (March 26, 1998) -- The U.S. Bishops voiced concern over repression and violence in Kosovo, in a March 25 statement from Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference International Policy Committee. The statement follows.
The long-unresolved crisis in Kosovo risks not only the rights and freedoms of the people of Kosovo but also wider peace and stability in the region. Repression and violence do not offer a way forward in Kosovo. The new violence inflicted by Yugoslav authorities is just the most recent example of a decade of repression of Kosovar Albanians. It is long past time for the Yugoslav government to recognize that the rights and traditions of one community cannot be protected by denying the rights and traditions of the majority community. It is long past time for the Yugoslav government to end its repression in Kosovo and take concrete steps to recognize basic rights of the Albanian community there. At the same time, the Albanian community should continue to seek respect for its rights through political means, not violence, which will solve nothing but risks everything.
We welcome and support the positive role of the St. Egidio Community in mediating the new agreement on education. We hope this agreement will be followed by a full restoration of all educational, health, civic and political institutions so that Albanians and Serbians alike can return to a normal life assured that their rights will be respected and their basic needs will be met. It is also important that humanitarian aid groups have unrestricted access to needy populations, regardless of ethnic and religious identity; and that international human rights monitors be allowed to operate without impediment and harassment.
There are diverse ethnic, national and religious traditions in Kosovo, each of which is enriched by and depends on the other, and each of which is impoverished by discord and division among them. All in Kosovo have a common stake in peaceful coexistence, an end to repression and violence, and respect for each community's legitimacy, traditions, and rights. The future depends on both communities finding ways, through authentic dialogue and compromise, to live together in peace and justice.