THE OPEN LETTER OF BISHOP ARTEMIJE
TO PRESIDENT CLINTON

 

The letter was personally given to the President during the meeting
at Pristina Airport on Nov 23
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SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP OF KOSOVO AND METOHIA
GRACANICA MONASTERY

H.E. William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States of America
Pristina, November 23, 1999

Dear Mr. President,

After the end of war and return of Kosovo Albanian refugees the repression of Milosevic's undemocratic regime was replaced by the repression of extremist Kosovo Albanians against our people. Freedom in Kosovo has not come for all equally.

Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanian groups in Kosovo live in ghettoes, insecurity, deprived of basic human rights. Their private property is usurped, their homes burned and looted. Multiethnicity in Kosovo, which survived 10 years of Milosevic's repressive rule is now disappearing completely. Not only Serbs are driven out from the Province but also Romas, Slav Moslems, Croats and Turks. More than 80 Orthodox churches have been either completely destroyed or damaged since June. Regretfully, all this happens in the presence of KFOR and UN. Kosovo more and more becomes ethnically ethnically cleansed society based on organized crime and discrimination against non-Albanians where they still remain.

Two thirds of the pre-war Serb population had to flee the Province under pressure, about 400 Serbs have been killed and more than 460 kidnapped which is proportionally worse suffering in peace time than ethnic Albanians suffered during the war. This is a tragic record for the post war peace mission, indeed.

We can understand the frustration of the Albanian people but cannot justify their indiscriminate retaliation against the innocent civilians. The present repression against non-Albanians is carried out with at least the tacit approval of Albanian leaders if not by their orders. These leaders have formally condemned repressive actions but in reality have not done anything to stop the ongoing ethnic violence and discrimination. Serbs still do not have access to hospitals, the University and public services. They are unemployed and confined to life in poverty of their enclaves out of which they cannot move freely.

We try to believe that the present tragedy in Kosovo is not what people of US wanted when they supported Your policy to intervene on behalf of suffering Albanians. Therefore we expect from You to show the same determination supporting Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic groups who suffer now from ethnic Albanians.

We have a few practical proposals how the situation in Kosovo may be improved:

1. KFOR should be more robust in suppressing violence, organized crime and should effectively protect the non-Albanian population from extremists. This is required by the UN Resolution.

2. More International Police should be brought to Kosovo. Borders must be better secured, and UNMIK should establish local administration with Serbs in areas where they live as compact population. Judicial system must become operational as soon as possible.

3. International community must build strategy to return Kosovo Serb refugees to their homes soon and provide better security for them and their shrines. Post war ethnic cleansing must not be legalized, private and Church property has to be restituted, law and order fully enforced.

4. International Community, especially US, should make clear to Kosovo Albanian leaders that they cannot create ethnically cleansed state under the protectorate of Western democratic governments. Investment policy and political support must be conditioned by full compliance of Albanian leaders with the UNSC Resolution 1244. KLA millitants must be fully disarmed . ICTY should launch impartial investigation on all criminal acts both by Serbs and Albanians.

We believe in God and in His providence but we hope that You, as a respectable leader of a powerful democratic country, will support our suffering people which want to remain where we have been living for centuries, in the land of our ancestors.

Sincerely
Bishop Artemije

Bishop Artemije
Bishop Artemije