Magazine, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Issue 35, July 28, 2000
with Bishop Artemije
ARTEMIJE is convinced that the Serbs cannot return to Kosovo by force
and that the future of the southern province directly depends on the
democratization of central Serbia
Bishop Artemije and Fr. Sava discussing
story of the return of the Serbian army and police and Kosovo is a typical
manipulation of the regime which has been talking about this for a year
thus giving false hope to Serb refugees. The story of Mr. Pavkovic's
return on a
white tank and of the Serb refugees return alongside him has absolutely
no basis in
reality and I am afraid that if that is what we are waiting for we will
return," says the bishop of Raska and Prizren, Artemije (Radosavljevic)
interview for "Blic News".
in your opinion, will be the future of Kosovo?
to Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council, Kosovo is a territorial
part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and of Serbia; however,
status of Kosovo is still not being discussed and that problem is not
resolved. In my opinion, this depends exclusively on the development
of events in
central Serbia, in Belgrade. If a change of the regime and democratization
Serbia, then it is possible that Kosovo will actually remain an integral
Serbia and FRY but if this does not occur in the foreseeable future,
Kosovo may turn
toward Europe instead by way of Albania. This would mean the final loss
this also discussed during the recent visit of the Serbian National
(SNV) to New York and Washington?
delegation of the SNV of Kosovo and Metohija visited New York in order
the session of the UN Security Council at which Resolution 1244 and
in the field were discussed. The visit was organized at the right time
and in the
right place because we were successful in showing the other side of
the coin called
Kosovo, in contrast with the picture which Mr. Kouchner presented during
Before the session, our delegation contacted with the ambassadors of
countries of the Security Council to whom we presented the factual situation,
especially regarding the new wave of violence and regarding the systematic
organized terrorism against the Serb population and non-Albanian residents
Kosovo. After this our delegation was unprecedentedly allowed to be
present at the
UN Security Council. As a result we were able to hear not only the unfortunate
report of Bernard Kouchner but also the presentations of the members
of the Security
Council and consequently we were witnesses to the fact that all presenters
special emphasis on what they learned from us immediately before the
the ambassador of Malaysia and Richard Holbrooke did not mention the
Holbrooke, we heard, was not happy with the presence of the SNV delegation
at the Security Council session. Is this true?
Holbrooke during his presentation expressed dissatisfaction and disagreement
with the presence of our delegation because of the fact, he said, that
side" was not present as well. He even publicly called secretary
general Kofi Annan
to account regarding this. Immediately following [Mr. Holbrooke's] speech,
rose from his seat, approached our delegation, greeted each of us and
welcome. After this Holbrooke left the conference room. Whether this
demonstratively or not, I am unable to say but those are the facts.
was your status during the length of your stay in New York?
were received as guests. Also present were two representatives of Montenegro
came independently of us, as well as the representative of FRY, Ambassador
Jovanovic. He approached us and greeted us before the session but we
did not see
each other afterwards.
you consider that visit to have been successful?
simple fact that we were present at the session and able to establish
communications with the members of the Security Council is a great success.
had not been there, the problem of the Serbs in Kosovo would not even
mentioned and in this way it was, nevertheless, placed at the center
of attention of
the general public.
was your visit to the State Department like?
American administration showed great interest for the problems of the
community in Kosovo. In the State Department we met with State Secretary
Albright and her associates Strobe Talbott, Christopher Hill and Jim
new special envoy for the Balkans. During those talks we adhered to
the text which
we had also taken to the Security Council with our seven requests and
This is what needs to be done for the situation to change for the better,
Serb community to have some chance of survival, and for the creation
environment suitable for the return of Serb refugees and other non-Albanian
residents of Kosovo. I think that our visit was highly significant and
fostered new hopes and new perspectives for the resolution of the Kosovo
the Americans make any promises or provide guarantees to you?
the State Department we analyzed all the requests which we submitted
collocutors expressed readiness to improve the security of the Serbs
in Kosovo, to
work on creating local self-government in the Serb enclaves, to have
represented in the Kosovo police where they live, to create separate
units which would assist KFOR and UNMIK in security tasks... Much has
to us and already this is being worked on at full speed. Representatives
American administration arrived in Pristina days ago and I hope that
we will soon
work further on the details.
you discuss the future status of Kosovo while in the US?
We do not engage in talks regarding the status issue because in order
this problem the state of Serbia and FRY must be involved as well as
has arrived from the US that Holbrooke proposed that, following the
departure of Slobodan Milosevic from power, a conference on Kosovo be
held, a sort of mini-Dayton...
was not mentioned. This involves the status issue and is a matter for
your stay in the US, the Serbian regime increased its attacks on representatives
of the Serbs in Kosovo. What is the essence of this conflict?
are not in conflict with anyone, that is up to those who are doing the
and who are actually also responsible for everything that has happened
and that is
happening today in Kosovo. I simply have to wish to comment on those
attacks, nor do
I follow them, nor to I assign any significance to them. I am trying
to perform my
duty in accordance with my conscience and my sentiment and out of concern
little that remains of our people in Kosovo, as well as to work on the
those who were expelled from Kosovo.
the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church expressed its
support for you. Is this correct?
Kosovo but also among our public in general the opinion prevailed that
what I am
doing is my personal business and that I supported perhaps in my efforts
by His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Kyr Pavle... However, at this
year's session of the Synod, the development
of events demonstrated that this was not the case because a committee
of the Synod
for Kosovo and Metohija was formed which is headed by His Holiness Patriarch
In this manner, what I am doing in Kosovo and for Kosovo has received
the support of
the entire Serbian Orthodox Church and of all the archpriests, and by
this also of
that part of the Serbian nation who are believers.
there hope for the return of Serbs to Kosovo?
is always hope. The Serbs cannot and must not ever renounce Kosovo because
is the cradle of Serbian spirituality, Serbian culture, the Serbian
location of our most precious holy sites and artifacts. If there are
no Serbs in
Kosovo, then our entire cultural and spiritual heritage is brought into
But everything does not depend on us but on a myriad of events and on
situation in Kosovo as well, because you cannot have some one return
if you cannot
even guarantee if he will be alive in a day or two. This compromises
the very idea
of Serb returns.
do you comment on the worsening of relations between the Kosovo Serbs
and members of the international forces?
Kosovo the propaganda from Belgrade is very strong. The regime controls
eight radio stations, television stations, newspapers and in every way
attack us and stir up trouble and crate divisions among the Serbs in
Kosovo. We have
the impression that the worse it is for the Serbs in Kosovo, the better
it is for
the regime in Belgrade. All these conflicts with the international community
Kosovska Mitrovica, Stimlje, Gracanica will not lead to anything good.
that conflicts would occur between Albanian extremists and KFOR soldiers
has not occurred. It is illusory and extremely unrealistic to expect
that Serbs can
achieve anything more in Kosovo through the use of force. We can only
the help of diplomacy and wisdom. Every use of force leads only to further
extinction of Serbs in Kosovo. And I am afraid that that is the policy
of the regime
* * * *
in the Security Council
delegation of the SNV of Kosovo and Metohija, in order to protect
community, asked the Security Council of the UN for the following:
Kosovo within the framework of the borders of Serbia and FRY with
implementation of Resolution 1244, self-government for the regions
and enclaves with a Serb majority, protection of holy sites and
artifacts of the Serbian Orthodox Church and realization of denominational
and cultural equality, judicial autonomy in self-governing regions
with judges and jurists from local communities, the inclusion
of a greater number of Serbs in the security system of Kosovo,
the formation of special antiterrorist units which would, in collaboration
with KFOR, fight terrorism in the province and establishment of
clear deadlines as well as establishment of a special committee
consisting of Serb experts and UNMIK experts in order to discuss
the modalities of self-government.
* * * *
your visit to the US, the information was leaked that you received a
concession in the form of a guarantee that all Serbs expelled from World
War II onward as well as their legal heirs would be eligible to participate
in the process of registering the population of Kosovo? Is this true?
and elections are out of the question until the expelled Serbs have
returned to Kosmet. Today there is no one there to register. Only a
third of Serbs
who lived in Kosmet up to March of last year remain, while two-thirds
throughout Serbia and Montenegro. It is clear that this position on
our part will
not prevent the international community from conducting registration
but they will have to do so without us.
* * * *
would like to remind your readers that on the celebration of Vidovdan
Day, June 28) 11 years ago more than one million people gathered at
at the celebration of Vidovdan last year, barely 20 people gathered
Patriarch at Gazimestan under the protection of approximately one hundred
KFOR. This year His Holiness Patriarch Pavle will also be at Gazimestan;
Serbs will be able to attend is questionable. In any case, I would like
to say that
Vidovdan is the milestone of every Serb, that without Vidovdan, without
gospel, which is the commitment to the Kingdom of Heaven, to eternal
ideals, to the
honorable Cross and golden liberty, that without these ideals there
will be no
Serbia and there will be no Serbs. Therefore, no matter where we live
and what we
do, we must keep before us these values and Kosovo ideals for which
lived and for which they were prepared to die," said Bishop Artemije.
by S. Lazovic (July 1, 2000)