Bishop Artemije

Danas, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
June 10-11, 2000

Journal entries of [His Grace] the Episcope of Raska and Prizren, Artemije (Radosavljevic)

Planned chaos

Testimony regarding events in Kosovo and Metohija in the first days upon the deployment of KFOR forces was submitted to the Holy Synod of Archpriests of the Serbian Orthodox Church as part of an annual report by the Episcope of Raska and Prizren regarding the situation in his episcopate during the period from May 15, 1999 to May 16, 2000.

"On June 9 at 9:45 p.m. the betrayal of Kosovo was signed near Kumanovo. Pain and
sorrow in the soul, weariness in the eyes. Celebrations in Belgrade! In Prizren - joy, gunshots! The prayer wells forth: God, preserve our sanity! The next day, at 3:00 p.m., the order is given for NATO air attacks to stop. The Yugoslav Army began to withdraw at noon. Hundreds of military vehicles from Podujevo toward Merdare. The president of FR Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, addressed the Nation, for the first time since beginning of the bombing, with an announcement of victory?!?

On June 11 we visited Velika Hoca and Father Milenko. The people gathered. Alarmed and frightened. They ask what to do but they are not prepared to listen. All of them are prepared to move out. We go to Djakovica. The president of the municipality is packed - to leave. As are all the Serb people. This is true in Pec, in Decani, in Prizren, in Musutiste. Probably in other places as well, but I do not have firsthand knowledge. On the roads - columns of military vehicles. On all sides. Also civil ones: trucks, tractors, small cars. Everywhere hopelessness, despair, the feeling that we have been betrayed and abandoned by our country.

The soldiers and the police without hope. Without a clear decision or sense of direction as to what they should do. General ruin. Anarchy. There are gunshots on all sides, they are looting and burning the remaining Albanian houses. Pec is completely engulfed in flames. One cannot breathe. Night falls, with it insecurity and fear enter under every roof and enter every soul. The monks and priests are all still in their positions. Our hope is in God. The Church has remained pure, outside and above all the dirtiness of this war.

The last convoy

The next day, June 12, we visited the Monastery of the Holy Trinity [Sveta Trojica] near Musutiste. I served and gave communion to the sisters. During the Liturgy, a priest from Musutiste, Father Aleksandar Naspalic, arrived with four local men. They advise: Yesterday approximately 130 families left from the village of Musutiste (from the whole parish - approximately 300). There are only about houses left today in close proximity to the Church. They ask: What to do? I advise as I do everywhere and always: Stay. I see: They do not accept. They say: They were urged to move out by the authorities and commanders who announced over their radio stations: The last convoy today leaves at 3:00 p.m. Prepare yourselves. Those who remain will have no guarantee that they will be able to leave later. The Germans are coming (and they have been presented as enemies of the Serbs for months previously. And - the plan succeeded. Like in Kninska Krajina: The people left with the army. Again, a part of the Serb people (this time, from Kosovo) is on wheels and trailers.

A reprise of the columns of two and a half months ago (Albanian ones), except now in the opposite direction - to the North. To ruin. To horror...

On our way to Prizren, we stopped in Musutiste. Everything is packed to go. Tractors, trucks, cars. Pain and despair. About thirty of them gathered at the Church. They ask, but they do not want to listen. We leave; we go to Prizren, and they go... We arrive in Prizren at 2:00 p.m. New information: Last night in Prizren about 40 Turkish houses were broken into, several Serb-owned stores and cafe bars, some local women were raped... All by our army (border guards) while withdrawing. This morning, at the exit from Prizren, convoys of military ehicles - prepared. A convoy of about 30 buses enters into Prizren - for the army. Ruin, decay and chaos. Everything planned, pre-arranged and carried out. Everything which I foresaw many years ago and have repeated many times before. This is truly the end not only of Kosovo but also of Serbia and - of the Serbs. In other places as well (around
Prizren, Djakovica, Decani, Pec) general flight. The army in many places continues
to set on fire, destroy, fire shots (Decani, Pec).

Serbs leaving Prizren in June 99
Serb civilians evacuated by German KFOR from Prizren in June 99

Permitted revenge

The next day, on Sunday, June 13, I served in Prizren. Few people came. Father Zoran
Grujic served in Ljubizda. There, the KLA has surrounded the village and church. In Prizren the Albanians are running wild - because of the arrival of KFOR. Father Zoran arrived in Prizren with difficulty. His car was smashed while KFOR soldiers watched. The first sign that they will not protect us, that they will not stop the KLA in extracting revenge... The Serbs in Prizren in a panic. Many come, ask, look for a solution, answers. Contacts with Pristina, Pec, Decani. Short-wave radio and the phone are always in use. Fresh news continues to arrive... Djakovica, Decani, Pec - empty, without a single Serb (except the Monastery of Decani and the Pec Patriarchate). [The village of] Djurakovac has left. Orahovac and Velika Hoca are prepared to leave with the army. KFOR (Germans here) cannot guarantee security (they say there are too few of them for now). In Prizren the first three Serb victims have fallen. Many have already moved away. The rest are prepared.

The next day, at about 10:00 a.m., the last convoy of soldiers and police leaves Prizren. We, and the rest of the people, are forced to leave with them. But only as far as Gracanica, never from Kosovo. At least for now. The betrayal is obvious. We were not a topic in the negotiations. It appears that the Regime and Belgrade again need massive victims and tragedy of the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija. Occasionally we follow news from other sides (BBC, Deutsche Welle, Montenegrin Radio Television). No sign of light from anywhere.

The unconvincing promises of KFOR

On Monday, June 14, the commander of KFOR in Prizren called me for a talk. We went to the KFOR command headquarters. We spoke for over an hour and I explained our situation to him and asked for protection of the Serb population here, in Orahovac and in Hoca. Upon returning to the church, I transmitted the message to the gathered people to remain here, that KFOR had promised to introduce order. The message was not very convincing. During the day many left. Perhaps 10 percent of the Serbs in the city remained. Approximately 200 people were put up in the Seminary [Bogoslovija] for the night. The remainder are still in their houses. In the streets the euphoria of the Albanians. Especially the young. And the appearance of the KLA in the streets, in hospitals, everywhere. In Ljubizda last night they searched houses, confiscated weapons, beat up people...

The following day, on June 15, we learned that this morning at approximately 6:00 a.m. the remaining Serbs from yesterday had left with the last military convoy. The ones from the Seminary, too. The army ordered buses for them. The few remaining families ask what they should do. They want the Church to order buses for them to leave, too. We cannot do this because the Church does not wish to and cannot participate in the displacement of Serbs from Kosovo. I told them: Let everyone decide for himself and take care of himself... Just as, during the two and one half months of bombing and during the entire time of the negotiations (including before the war), the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija were nowhere mentioned, just as they are not mentioned anywhere in the signed agreement, so now the official state media of Belgrade has not mentioned or said a single word regarding the moving out of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija (Prizren, Orahovac, Djakovica, Pec, Decani). The last task of the army was to leave no Serbs behind it. And the army made the effort both by its earlier work and now upon withdrawal.

So that someone tomorrow might point out the lack of success on the part of the peacekeeping forces and accuse them of not offering the Serbs the necessary protection, and Western policies of failure. The official media are only talking about victory, about the peace which has come, about the preserved integrity and sovereignty of the country, and about the beginning of reconstruction of the destroyed country (yesterday - the bridge near Beska).

But German general Von Korf (sp?) also failed to keep yesterday's promise. Lastnight the KLA and the people (Albanians celebrated their victory long into the night with gunshots and song. The German patrols were nowhere to be seen in the city. Many Serb houses broken into "searching" for weapons, threatening and forcing to leave. Just as the military, police and paramilitary forces until recently did with the Shiptars.

At approximately 11:00 a.m. a monk, Father Hariton (Lukic), was kidnapped in downtown Pristina after going there by car to conduct some business. In various places throughout the city five other Serbs were kidnapped. Shooting and skirmished throughout the city the whole day. The radio station and telephone lines are in constant operation. The remaining Serbs gathered mainly in the seminar. We are attempting via Pristina to secure buses for tomorrow for evacuation because it is obvious that the devil has had his day. Bishop Atanasije has arrived to Father Miroslav and is trying to help. Amfilohije, too, got as far as Sopocani.

At 6:30 p.m. Sisters Katarina, Magdalina and Justina arrive with Father Radivoje Panic under British escort. They have been to Holy Trinity. The monastery is COMPLETELY BURNT... They were sent to Gracanica together with the brothers from the Holy Archangels [Svetih Arhangela] and from the Monastery of Zociste. At approximately 8:00 p.m. a KFOR officer, major Jens Dietrich (sp?), arrived with two other soldiers. We spoke for about two hours. In detail. About us, about the Monastery of the Holy Archangels, about the Seminary, about the people. He is very understanding, quiet, rational. Provided security (for tonight) of the Episcopate and the Church of St. George [Sv. Djordja], the Seminary. He had heard from KLA leaders that their people were to set our Church of St. George on fire that night.
That's why provided the security. I asked him to find Father Hariton from them. They did not succeed tonight. I asked to meet with general Von Korf the next day. We scheduled it for eight o'clock in the morning. In the Episcopate. They had secured, they said, five buses for the people for tomorrow, and arranged to escort them.

Leaving homes under US helicopters - Serbs leaving Kosovo
Leaving homes under US helicopters - Serbs leaving Kosovo
Despite strong NATO presence in Kosovo Serb refugees are still leaving, Zitinje

A volley of insults

Day dawned on June 16. The German general arrived at the scheduled time. I advised him of the situation in the field and the need to evacuate the people and ourselves from Prizren with the wish and hope that we would be able to return as soon as possible. 'That will depend on you,' I said. He understood, he expressed his regrets because of this and ordered the major to secure the departure. Preparations took all day. Phone calls to Pristina in connection with the buses, with the people in Prizren, they gathered in the eminary. The KFOR soldiers covered the area from the Episcopate to the Seminary. It was agreed that three of our people would remain in the Episcopate. The major drew up an agreement regarding security for the sites: the Episcopate with the Church, the Seminary, and the Monastery of the Holy Archangels with staff.

The buses were quite late. They arrived at 4:45 p.m. With them Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic), Archdeacon Maksim, Father Stefan, Father Antonije and Sister Katarina. The people embarked on the five buses and 30-odd cars. The column set out from in front of the Sinan-Pasha Mosque at exactly 6:00 p.m. Through a volley from both sides of gathered Shiptars, KLA, children and adults with deafening shouts: Thieves, thieves... NATO, NATO... UCK, UCK [KLA, KLA], which had a very demoralizing and maximally humiliating effect. Remaining in Prizren are perhaps about 30 families with a member or two, none of them complete. The security was strong and professional.

And so on, and so forth. Day after day, month after month, here we are one year later. The promises of KFOR have not been fulfilled. Serbs continue to suffer, to be murdered and kidnapped, churches and monasteries are destroyed... But the Serbs are surviving in the larger enclaves, again thanks only to security provided to them by KFOR. We remained with our people. We shared every evil with them because there was no good. We strove and continue to strive to convince or to force the international community to fulfill the responsibilities which it undertook by UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The results are slim but we cannot do without them..."

Translated by S. Lazovic (June 11, 2000)