Holy Archangels' Monastery near Prizren, Serbia

"You showed me the church of Yours as the source of health", Dusan's gift charter. -Full reconstruction was interrupted... -In June 1999 a monk from the monastery, Fr. Chariton, was abducted. -Now - a spiritual center gathering the remaining Orthodox people from Prizren and around. The young monastic brotherhood is full of religious enthusiasm and remains confident that one day Holy Archangels will be completely reconstructed.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

His Grace Bishop of Raska and Prizren Artemije

Spiritual father of Holy Archangels' monks gave an interview for "Herald of Kosovo and Metohija"

His Grace Bishop of Raska and Prizren Artemije (Radosavljevic) estimated that the representatives of the International community in Kosovo were only efficient in protecting Albanian minority in Serbia.

Bishop: Eleven days were enough to give freedom to Albanians, the right and possibility to act, as they will under the protection of the international community.
And after 11 months they still act in that manner towards the Serbs. Yesterday one man was killed in Pasjane, Bishop Atanasije said. On Good Friday my church in Grncare was destroyed. One elderly woman was strangled in her apartment in Gnjilane…All this was permitted to them as a certain jeopardized minority; theinternational community enabled everything. Great injustice was done in Kosovo after the arrival of the international community.
Kouchner: It is absolutely right, and I deeply regret all that, for every
person that was killed and dead. But it was easier to bomb from the air
and to go to war than to protect every single person / it is absolutely
impossible. We cannot post a guard in front of every Serbian representative
or other community.
Bishop: Find the criminals. Dismantle the crime; do not protect the individuals. Who was identified as a criminal until now? Provide the names. Mr. Lavrov asked the same question.
Kouchner: We have about 400 men imprisoned.
Bishop: Correct - but it is not known what they were charged for. The Court did not process them.
Kouchner: The justice system is unable to work sufficiently after only two months.
Bishop: I understand this. That is the reason we request international judges.
Kouchner: We talked about this, but I myself cannot be a judge. We have to bring them. We had a conversation with the international representatives of the Security Council about this issue. I promise you they will come. Although I do not know when.
Bishop: If the Albanians would be the judges, no Albanian will be found guilty, but every Serb would be guilty. You know that even I was
accused as criminal in Orahovac.
Kouchner: I was accused, too. I am always together with you.
Your Grace, the mentioned conversation happened some five years ago. Bernard Kouchner was gone, as well as Hans Haekerup, Michael Steiner, Harri
Holkeri. Now the SRSG is Mr. Jessen Petersen. Did anything change since then;
did anything improve for Serbs and other minority communities?

(His Grace quoted one epic poem suuing that he has to tell only truth.)
I would be very happy if I could say that after 6,5 years the situation in
Kosovo became peaceful, that it has improved, that the Serbs enjoy their
rights, that they move freely, that nobody provokes them. It would be luck
if it were so and if I were able to say so.
In essence, nothing has changed since the time that the conversation
with Mr. Kouchner took place, six years ago. If we may talk about any
change, it is a change in quantity, not in quality. This means there are not
as many murders as it used to be, but the attacks on Serbs happen even
now. Even today there is no basic safety and security in Kosovo, there is
no freedom of movement. The murders of young men, last summer, near
Strpce, two days ago young men were beaten in the churchyard in Mogila
near Kosovska Vitina - these events can testify to the above mentioned
statement. The same holds true of the recent throwing of hand grenades
at the house of the father of Mr. Milorad Todorovic, vice-president of the
Coordination Center of Serbia. Every day some attack on Serbs, men
and children or their property in Kosovo happens and this could be used
as testimony, too. This means there are no basic human rights for Serbs
and other non-Albanians. There is no proper health care - the hospitals
are unapproachable to Serbian doctors as well as to the Serbian patients.
The issue of the education of Serbian children is still unresolved. In many
villages the lecturing, if it could be called lecturing, is held in private
houses or cellars.
The only places where Serbs can claim that they live slightly more
normally are larger enclaves, which are overwhelmingly Serbian environments,
such as Gracanica and Crkolez with surrounding villages in
Central Kosovo, bigger villages in Gnjilane region, Strpce in Brezovica
or the Northern Kosovo. Observing the life of the Serbian people, it could
be said that the life in these parts is nearly normal. Because there, in
these surroundings, in those enclaves, they feel free and safe. But the
feeling is that these are islands, either small or big, and this produces the
impression of uncertainty. Anywhere else that the Serbs move from that
particular enclave, they move at their own risk, their lives are in question.
The incidents from last summer and autumn happened in such way.
• After this conversation international representatives promised that " a cruel clash with the culprits of violence shall follow". The NATO secretary at that time, Mr. Robertson, said: "We will defeat every extremism." Have they apprehended any murderer? Have they identified anyone involved in the destruction of monuments and houses?
Only the murderer of Dimitrije Popovic from Gracanica, who was killed
a year and half ago, was apprehended and arrested. This happened only
because one young Serb was in vehicle that followed the car that the murderers drove. He alarmed the police and the murderers were caught.Thus, they were the only murderers who were discovered and caught. One of them was sentenced and the other was acquitted.
But as far as those who destroyed the Serbian churches or houses or villages in Kosovo are concerned, nobody, up to the present day was discovered, nobody was brought to face the justice. The promises of the international community that they will defeat any extremism most probably concerned and meant the Serbs and Serbian
extremism, not the Albanian. It is quite obvious that under the authority
of the international community so many evils and troubles happened in Kosovo, in the past six and a half years. These facts contradict all their promises, or as Serb say: Empty promises mean nothing. Serbs do not believe any more in those promises, since they had enough of empty talks and promises, we are waiting to see practical actions and the results of their presence in Kosovo. Unfortunately, nothing
happened and it is questionable whether the international community will ever play an unbiased role - to treat everyone equally.
• Your Grace, you might know why it became customary for the Serbs in Kosovo
to be called a minority community? How could it have happened that one
nation in a part of its own country became a minority?

In my opinion this is premeditated. Exactly by launching such a designation for the Serbs in Kosovo the status of Kosovo is being prejudiced in advance. Serbs may be designated a minority in Kosovo only in the case that Kosovo becomes an independent state. As long as Kosovo is a component part of Serbia, Serbs cannot be a minority in their own state. On numerous occasions I have reiterated this fact to many interlocutors from the international community. Not so long ago, a meeting was held in Gracanica and the chief of UNMIK police, during a conversation mentioned several times of the Serbs - minority, minority. I interfered and said: "Sir, the Serbs in Kosovo are not a minority, since Kosovo is not an independent state. With such expressions you prejudice the future status of Kosovo. " Thus I reacted sharply. Therefore this became a custom, since this suits the international community in order to proceed with its goal. It also suits the Kosovo Albanians. However, it is quite unexplainable why the Serbian diplomacy and the Serb representatives did not always react properly when such a designation for Serbs from Kosovo was used. If they have had reacted adequately, certainly this name would not be used any longer.
• Long before anybody undertook any action, you have had, Your Grace, the talks in Washington, in the Department of State, about the plans for the return of Serbs. At that time you said: "The plan is that the Serbs first return to the already established enclaves, and not to the places in Kosovo where they would be immediately killed", and you have added that: "Mrs. Albright has decided to persist in the implementation of the programme". What has happened since then and what has influenced the fact that until today only 13,500 IDP-s have returned, as this is the official name for the exiles from Kosovo?
This is an official statement of UNMIK that 13,500 IDP-s have returned. But it is far fetched that all of them are Serbs. This figure represents all exiles - Roma, Ashkali, Muslims, and others. Therefore, out of this number I do not believe that more than 3000 or 4000 are Serbs, a maximum 5000 returned to Kosovo in the period of six and half years. In the same period many more Serbs have left Kosovo compared to
those who have returned. The sale of Serbian property in Kosovo continues, under pressure or in certain other ways, thus it absolutely cannot be said that the return
process has brought any positive results. Concerning what was said in the beginning, we simply did not want to wait for years to pass, but we wanted the exiled people to return as soonBabus or any other village, starting from Gracanica than from Kragujevac, for example.
One should keep in mind that when we suggested proceeding in this
way, with the intent of speeding up the return process. But there was
no willingness on the part of the international community to support this
idea, as well as by the representatives of Albanian Interim Institutions in
Kosovo. However, today it is said that Serbs may return to the present
enclaves, not only to where they have originally lived - I will never accept
such a suggestion. This would mean that, in fact, we accept ethnic cleansing
of the Serbs, and through such an act we go against the UN SC Resolution
1244 which guarantees to the exiled persons the right of return to
their homes. That means the return to where they used to live, not again
to reside in certain ghettoes, enclaves or protected zones, either around
monasteries or in any other way. This cannot be accepted, since this does not represent a proper return. Even when the Albanians returned, nobody placed limits on where they would return or counted how many of them returned. So it happened that along with the Albanians who have returned many of those who never lived in Kosovo arrived as well. Several hundred thousand Albanians from Albania came to Kosovo and most certainly thanks to them such persecution and pogrom of Serbian people took place...

to be continued

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