October 19, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 19-10-03


Is this the road towards Europe?
Not a single reconstructed Serbian Orthodox church in 4 years
(ruins of the Serbian Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity in Djakovica
 destroyed by ethnic Albanian extremists after the war in 1999)

CHURCH IN KOSOVO STRUGGLES FOR FUTURE AND NOT FOR PAST MYTHS

Attempts of Bishop Artemije to preserve Kosovo and Metohija as multiethnic society in which all ethnic and religious groups would live in peace in tolerance is not struggling for myths of the past but quite opposite - for the survival of his Church and European future of the Province. Civilized world cannot turn the blind eye to creating of a monster-state in which all remaining traces of Christian churches and holy sites will be turned into ashes.

ERPKIM INFO-SERVICE
Gracanica, October 19, 2003

In our weekend edition we are enclosing an excellent article by Christopher Deliso. The article was written as a response to the text by Tunku Varadarijan, published a day before in Wall Street Journal in which the author, obviously strongly biased against Serbs and the Orthodox Church, ironically potrayed suffering of the Christians in Kosovo disregarding the truth that the Serbian people and their Church have been exposed to systematic extermination in the name of aggressive ethnic Albanian nationalism and pan-islamic fundamentalism. To expect that Moslem Albanians would protect Serbian Christian cultural and religious heritage in an independent ethnic Albanian state of Kosovo is one of the basic fallacies of Varadarijan. In fact, complete destruction of the Serbian Christian heritage or its "Albanization" are the primary goals of Kosovo Albanian nationalists who intend to change the identity and history of the entire region (including Macedonia) eliminating last existing traces of the Orthodox Christian presence. All events that have happened in the last four years of internationally granted "peace" in Kosovo are the best proof of that strategy.

Attempts of Bishop Artemije to preserve Kosovo and Metohija as multiethnic society in which all ethnic and religious groups would live in peace in tolerance is not struggling for myths of the past but quite opposite - for the survival of his Church and European future of the Province.Civilized world cannot turn the blind eye to creating of a monster-state in which all remaining traces of Christian churches and holy sites will be turned into ashes.

(As a good reference text to this topc we suggest reading an excellent article by Karl Savich: The Systematic Destruction of Orthodox Christian Churches and Cemeteries in Kosovo-Metohija and Macedonia http://www.kosovo.net/systematic_destruction.html


CONTENTS:

WHAT ARE THEY SMOKING AT THE WALL STREET YOURNAL? A GROTESQUE TAKE ON KOSOV0, BY Christopher Deliso, RM October 18, 2003

I urge anyone who has never been to Gracanica to go there and see the church while it still exists. After experiencing its ethereal beauty and peace, the visitor will somehow understand a little of the value that this monument has to the Serbian people, and even to the rest of us. When such monuments are destroyed, everyone suffers, whether they know it or not, because culture has been degraded and barbarism becomes a little more tolerable. This allows for a host of other associated criminal acts that degrade society in general. Indeed, destruction of cultural treasures says a lot about the kind of society that allows it, even from afar. And here we cannot excuse the passive Western "observers" who claim to support positive intervention but keep letting the negative seep through.

PRAYER AND POLITICS - SERB FEARS GROW AS ALBANIANS DYNAMITE CHURCHES BY Tunku Varadarijan (Wall Street Journal), Oct 17, 2003

History is but a flash to the Serbs, for they still kindle themselves with fuel from the 14th century. They were defeated in battle by the Turks in 1389--in a place near here, called the Field of the Blackbirds--and have turned that defeat into an elaborate myth, a kind of Balkan "nunca más," or "never again," an eerie, vengeful national myth of regret and reprisal. "Losing" Kosovo to the Muslim Albanians today is unthinkable because it evokes the loss of Kosovo to the Muslim Turks 600 years ago. So when prayers are conducted at Gracanica, they are not so much an attempt to transcend political conflict as an extension of existential polemics. Orthodox prayer is politics in Kosovo.


EWhat are they smoking at the Wall Street Journal? A grotesque take on Kosovo

REALITY MACEDONIA
Web posted October 18, 2003

By Christopher Deliso
http://www.realitymacedonia.org.mk/web/news_page.asp?nid=2796

Just when one thought Serbophobia was dying out in the West, along came the War Street Journal. There’s really nothing that needs to be said about Editor Tunku Varadarajan’s astonishingly asinine conclusion- it really speaks for itself:

"…If the Albanians can make promises to protect Serb shrines, and the Serbs can bring themselves to believe those promises, there should be no reason why Bishop Artemije and his flock cannot arrive at a modern way of living with reality. And then perhaps the year 1389 might cede, at last, to the present."

This resounding conclusion follows a recap of the author’s visit to Gracanica, a Serbian enclave located near Pristina and guarded by KFOR troops. It houses one of the most magnificent, and one of the last surviving Byzantine churches in Kosovo. Varadarajan’s contempt for Serbs is spelled out quite clearly:

"…history is but a flash to the Serbs, for they still kindle themselves with fuel from the 14th century. They were defeated in battle by the Turks in 1389--in a place near here, called the Field of the Blackbirds--and have turned that defeat into an elaborate myth, a kind of Balkan "nunca más," or "never again," an eerie, vengeful national myth of regret and reprisal. "Losing" Kosovo to the Muslim Albanians today is unthinkable because it evokes the loss of Kosovo to the Muslim Turks 600 years ago. So when prayers are conducted at Gracanica, they are not so much an attempt to transcend political conflict as an extension of existential polemics. Orthodox prayer is politics in Kosovo."

The message is clear: the Serbs are backwards, religiously-crazed paranoiacs, still living in the Middle Ages, needlessly upset about a future that will assuredly be rosy and replete with human rights and ethnic harmony. Come on, Serbs, keep your chins up and get with the program!

The sentiment is unreal. It is hard to believe that the writer could actually have gone to Kosovo, as he claims, for if he did he certainly left his mind back in New York. Does he really think that after the destruction of a few churches (actually, over 110) that the Serbs of Kosovo should start trusting their ethnically-challenged neighbors now? And does he really think that what has happened in Kosovo since 1999 has been anything other than a focused and persistent policy of cultural and ethnic cleansing by the Albanians? And does he think that this campaign is over, now that elderly Serbs are forced to die of starvation rather than dare set foot in the street?

Note that this article portrays the Serbs according to a well-worn precedent that proved indispensable to their castigation during the 1990’s. The article presents just a watered-down version of the same logic that described the Serbs as religiously-crazed killers. Now, stripped of that opportunity, they’re just fanatical haters.

However, the oft-repeated statement that the Serbs are constantly reliving events from 600 years ago is merely a device to belittle them, and to take away attention from the fact that in Kosovo the last 4 years, at least, have been pretty terrible (and not just for the Serbs). This requires no religious belief- just the facts. Anyone can see this clearly, unless he chooses to avoid them and instead delight in conjuring up happy tales of another peoples’ laughable alleged collective reverie.

Indeed, the bishop’s apocalyptic fatalism has less to do with religion than with the now-realized notion that in Kosovo, things have gone too far already. There’s only one way left for them to continue- and it isn’t the ethnic harmony route.

Of course, for the WSJ, this is all quite funny. In order to avoid the responsibility for unleashing all this terror, the West must portray real people as mercenary cartoon characters. And so the description of the Serbs, who apparently see

"…their lives as an irreducible conflict between Christian Serbs and the Albanian Antichrist. The gloom in their hearts was palpable, as if they knew that their days in Kosovo were numbered and that their only option now was to stage an elaborate theater of outrage--in hopes of getting the outside world to come to their aid."

What kind of "theatrics" need to be staged, when the blatant truth is right there, staring everyone in the face? It is easier for the West to ignore its major role in the tragedy of Kosovo by belittling it. Indeed, the only ones talking about the Antichrist are those now building democracies from Washington. The problem in Kosovo is not religious hatred- it’s fear of mass murderers.

This article also seems to be another example of American-style objectivity. (That is, to report others’ testimony without commenting on its veracity or implications). This is most often done, of course, with, the sober noting of what politicians say. However, in this case one gets the impression that the author is mildly amused with the antics of these religiously crazed people stuck in the 14th Century. And one also gets the impression that he would again just be mildly amused if Gracanica Monastery were to be blown up. That the quoted Bishop Artemije is fatalistic in this regard is not inexplicable, considering the fate of so many other Serbian churches since 1999 when NATO took over to bring peace and prosperity to the languishing province.

In closing, I urge anyone who has never been to Gracanica to go there and see the church while it still exists. After experiencing its ethereal beauty and peace, the visitor will somehow understand a little of the value that this monument has to the Serbian people, and even to the rest of us. When such monuments are destroyed, everyone suffers, whether they know it or not, because culture has been degraded and barbarism becomes a little more tolerable. This allows for a host of other associated criminal acts that degrade society in general. Indeed, destruction of cultural treasures says a lot about the kind of society that allows it, even from afar. And here we cannot excuse the passive Western "observers" who claim to support positive intervention but keep letting the negative seep through.

Gracanica

Someday, when this church too is destroyed, the visitor will also be able to feel a little of the pain that the Serbian people have felt for the past 4 years (never mind the past 600, that’s beside the point). Of course, by then it will be too late, but at least one will be able to say, "maybe them Serbs weren’t so crazy after all."

TOP


HOUSES OF WORSHIP
http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110004180

E
Prayer and Politics
Serb fears grow as Albanians dynamite churches.

BY TUNKU VARADARAJAN
Friday, October 17, 2003 12:01 a.m. EDT

GRACANICA, Kosovo--The ceremony was elaborate. First came espresso cups, filled with sweet, viscous coffee. Then glasses of faintly cloudy water. Finally the priest who was serving us--a bearded giant about 6-foot-4, sheathed dauntingly in a black cassock--brought us thimbles of plum brandy. He must have seen eyes light up (it was four in the afternoon, well in advance of cocktail hour), for he allowed himself a brief, toothy smile. "Please!" he said to our small group, beckoning us to partake. He then withdrew to a corner, where he stood sentinel, an adamant Serb statue.

The little old man presiding nodded his head hospitably, and once we'd each reached for our liquid of choice, he began to speak his mind. "They killed two of our boys recently," he said, in the clipped sentences of a dignitary accustomed to an interpreter. "Shot them while they were swimming in a river." He shook his head mournfully, and his acolytes murmured their revulsion. "We asked parliament to have a minute's silence in their memory. They refused. They refused!"

The emphasis in the little old man's last words was disconcerting. Until that moment, he, Bishop Artemije--Serb Orthodox bishop of the Kosovo region of the former Yugoslavia--had seemed only to whisper. Now he appeared to want to be heard. The boys were Serbs, his parishioners; their killers were Kosovar Albanians, Muslim separatists who are hell-bent, Bishop Artemije believes, on driving the Serbs out of Kosovo, where they now constitute only a small minority in a demographic sea of Albanians--the same Albanians who dominate Kosovo's parliament, where a technicality, that the rulebook only allows silence for dead legislators, was used to frustrate Bishop Artemije's plaintive request for a formal, public mourning for the murdered Serb boys.

"This is what I spend my time doing," the bishop said ruefully, as if apologizing for the temporal nature of his business. His measured tones were in contrast to the feelings of some of the parishioners present at the meeting, who, it was clear, saw their lives as an irreducible conflict between Christian Serbs and the Albanian Antichrist. The gloom in their hearts was palpable, as if they knew that their days in Kosovo were numbered and that their only option now was to stage an elaborate theater of outrage--in hopes of getting the outside world to come to their aid. "They will dynamite everything, even our church in Gracanica," one told me. "They" are the Albanians; and the church is one of a score of Serb Orthodox churches, dating from the 13th to the 18th centuries, whose presence imbues Kosovo with near-mystical importance for many Serbs, making Kosovo, as one Serb told me, "like our Judea and Samaria."

Gracanica is five miles from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and is the bishop's seat. He lives in the monastery adjacent to the church, a haunting place--now afflicted also with that contagious Serb gloom--built in 1321. The Byzantine frescoes inside the church are stunning and, as Edith Durham once described them, "old-world, barbaric, and decorative," with gaunt saints, their cheeks made more sunken still by the ghostly light. The iconography even explains, in a curious aesthetic way, the Serbs' stubborn atavism. Ars longa, vita brevis, Serbia forever.

History is but a flash to the Serbs, for they still kindle themselves with fuel from the 14th century. They were defeated in battle by the Turks in 1389--in a place near here, called the Field of the Blackbirds--and have turned that defeat into an elaborate myth, a kind of Balkan "nunca más," or "never again," an eerie, vengeful national myth of regret and reprisal. "Losing" Kosovo to the Muslim Albanians today is unthinkable because it evokes the loss of Kosovo to the Muslim Turks 600 years ago. So when prayers are conducted at Gracanica, they are not so much an attempt to transcend political conflict as an extension of existential polemics. Orthodox prayer is politics in Kosovo.

Albanian extremists have only heightened Serb fears by blowing up numerous churches since 1999, when NATO intervened to put a stop to Slobodan Milosevic's campaign of ethnic terror against the Kosovar Albanians. That said, there is now a groundswell in Albanian civil society that offers hope of a way forward. Many nations have their spiritual roots left behind in other territories: the Iranians in Najaf and Karbala; the Turks all over Central Asia; the Greeks in Istanbul. If the Albanians can make promises to protect Serb shrines, and the Serbs can bring themselves to believe those promises, there should be no reason why Bishop Artemije and his flock cannot arrive at a modern way of living with reality.

And then perhaps the year 1389 might cede, at last, to the present.

Mr. Varadarajan is editorial features editor of The Wall Street Journal.

TOP


Online publication on destruction of the Serbian Orthodox
Christian heritage in Kosovo after the beginning of the Kosovo Peace Mission
in June 1999
http://www.kosovo.net\ckos\page_01.htm


ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with www.serbian-translation.com as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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