OF THE SERB HOLY SITES AT EASTER TIME
Belgrade, May 7, 2002
of the UN Mission in Kosovo Micheal Steiner, COMKFOR Gen. Marcel
Valenten and the Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi attended
the Easter Liturgy at the Patriarchate of Pec Serbian Orthodox
Monastery on Sunday morning. Rexhepi is the first higher ethnic
Albanian official from Kosovo who attended an Orthodox Easter
Liturgy in Kosovo after the war.
PM spoke Serbian at the Patriarchate and sent his Easter greetings
to all Orthodox Christians on Saturday evening. He said to the
BBC program in Serbian that his visit to the Patriarchate did
not have a political character.
Serbian Orthodox Church said that the Easter visit of the Kosovo
PM Bajram Rexhepi to the Patriarchate of Pec, in company of the
highest representatives of UNMIK and KFOR, "in essence proves
that there is a serious discrepancy between official statements
and gestures by the Kosovo Albanian leaders on one side and the
behavior of the local Albanian population on the other".
Just before the Easter several Orthodox cemeteries in Kosovo had
been desecrated by ethnic Albanians.
of the Yugoslav Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojsa
Covic said that the visit of Steiner, Valenten and Rexhepi to
the Patriarchate of Pec and attending the Easter Liturgy was a
positive gesture. He added that "this event shows that the
international community is educating Kosovo Albanian leaders and
is directing them towards the dialog". In his statement to
BETA agency, however, Covic strongly condemned desecrations of
the Serb Orthodox holy sites in Kosovo and rather indolent behavior
of the international representatives towards this issue.
Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren said that just before the
Easter there were several new provocations and desecrations of
the Christian Orthodox holy sites in Kosovo and Metohija. In the
statement by the Diocesan Information Service it is said that
the damage was recorded at the Serbian Orthodox cemetery in Decani.
"During their visit to the cemetery on the Easter day, the
monks of Decani Monastery could see that additional tombs had
been damaged and that the ground around some tombs was disturbed",
it is said in the statement which also specifies that the cemetery
is located only a few dozen of meters from the local Italian KFOR
checkpoint, in the very vicinity of the Visoki Decani Monastery.
of Decani Monastery requested from KFOR a more efficient protection
of the local Serb Orthodox cemetery, it is said in the statement.
Serb Orthodox cemeteries
also reported that during the Holy Week, which precedes the Easter,
the communal Serb Orthodox cemetery at Piskote near Djakovica
had been desecrated too. From many tombs the marble tombstones
were taken away "most probably to be resold, while crosses
and inscriptions were broken". From the cemetery church of
St. Prince Lazar, which is one of the most beautiful Orthodox
churches in this area built before the war, a part of the roof
was reportedly removed. This attack on the cemetery in Djakovica
happened after the Italian soldiers had removed a fixed check-point
from the church; it is said in the statement. The Diocese added
that the KFOR representatives did not immediately inform the Serb
representatives and the Serb Orthodox Church and that the information
eventually came to the Church only indirectly from the KFOR. According
to the latest information the Italian soldiers reinstalled their
check point in front of the church at Piskote, the statement says.
of Raska and Prizren also reminded that there were attempts to
obstruct the traditional Easter procession at Suvo Grlo, near
Istok because the local ethnic Albanians farmers had usurped the
church property. From Devic monastery the Diocese has recently
received information that usual verbal provocations against the
nuns were intensified with shouts "It is a high time for
you to leave". These are only additional provocations in
the series of many post-war provocations against the Serbian Orthodox
Church in Kosovo and Metohija. The Church statement says that
the continuation of the vandal behavior towards the Orthodox holy
sites and cemeteries is the best evidence that the position of
a large number of Kosovo Albanian population towards the remaining
Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija has regrettably not changed to the