February 22, 2003
ERP KIM Newsletter 22-02-03
CHURCH WELCOMES READINES OF ITALIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TO
CONTINUE PROTECTING ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
ANSA: Monasteries at risk without Italian soldiers
ANSA: Berselli - Italians will continue to protect
monasteries in their area of responsibility, including Decani Monastery
BETA: Serbs reject declaration of independence
HRW: NATO arrests key step for justice in Kosovo
THE TIMES (UK): Serbs may back rebel republic in Kosovo
More News Available on our:
NEWS LIST (KDN)
CHURCH WELCOMES READINESS
OF ITALIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TO CONTINUE PROTECTING ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Italian soldiers and other members of KFOR forces in Kosovo and
Metohija have the historic responsibility to preserve the most important
Orthodox churches from barbaric destruction
Gracanica, February 22, 2003
(Photo: KFOR commander General Fabio
Mini receives icon of Christ from Fr. Sava of Decani Monastery as symbolic
pledge for protection of Orthodox churches in Kosovo and Metohija)
Diocese of Raska and Prizren welcomes the readiness of the Italian
ministry of defense and the Italian Army to continue to protect Orthodox
churches in its zone of responsibility, in Metohija. This important
statement is encouraging to our Church, which during the past three years
in Kosovo and Metohija together with its faithful people has been exposed
to unbridled violence and destruction by Albanian extremists.
Recent statements by some UNMIK and KFOR officials regarding a supposed
improvement in the security situation and hasty announcements regarding
the removal of checkpoints near monasteries and churches have caused
unrest among our monks, clergy and faithful people who have succeeded in
preserving their Christian faith and Serbian heritage under almost
impossible conditions. Reducing the degree of protection or transfer of
security to the Albanian police would certainly represent a risk to our
churches, and KFOR and UNMIK must be aware that it would to a great degree
cause regression to the entire peace process.
Three and a half years after conflict it is completely apparent that the
Kosovo Albanians and their institutions have not changed their negative
and anti-civilizing attitude toward the Christian Orthodox spiritual and
cultural legacy. Therefore, monasteries and churches regardless of
other political solutions must remain under the strong protection of
peacekeeping forces. In the near future it would be advisable to consider
mixed Serb-international forces which would continue to secure these
monuments of spirituality and culture in accordance with Resolution 1244.
The Diocese also appeals to security officials to bring to justice as soon
as possible those who are responsible for the destruction of over 110
Orthodox churches and monasteries after the war. The destruction of
valuable spiritual and cultural monuments was carried out with the goal of
obliterating all traces of an entire people and must be punished.
Unfortunately, those who organized and ordered this destruction are today
sitting in Kosovo and Metohija institutions and using the institutions of
the system to complete the destruction of the last remaining traces of
Serbs in this region.
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren wishes to express its
sincere gratitude to the Italian Army on its efforts to protect our
Orthodox churches, especially the monasteries of the Pec Patriarchate and
The Italian Army and other members of KFOR in Kosovo and Metohija have the
historic responsibility to preserve Orthodox churches from barbaric
destruction. They should be proud of this role because they are at the
same time protecting the cultural and spiritual foundations of European
Church of Virgin Mary built in 1315, destroyed by Kosovo
Albanians in 1999
ANSA: MONASTERIES AT RISK
WITHOUT ITALIAN SOLDIERS
ROME, 19 FEB – The medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries of Kosovo are at
risk of disappearing if the protection of NATO (KFOR) soldiers present in
the region since June of 1999 does not continue. This alarming news was
published by the magazine '30 Giorni' in this week’s issue.
According to this periodical since 1999 Albanian extremists have used
explosive to destroy 110 Orthodox churches and now the medieval jewel,
Decani Monastery, is also at risk due to the announced withdrawal of
Italian KFOR soldiers who have been protecting it for the past three years
and who are scheduled to be transferred to a new Italian base near Pec as
soon as it is completed.
'I have written to the KFOR command in Kosovo,' says Father Sava, one of
the monks, 'and expressed by concern for the survival of the monastery. I
still have not received an answer but I have confidence in the Italian
soldiers, because already during the Second World War the Italian
carabinieri saved the monastery from the Balli Kombetar, the paramilitary
Albanian nationalists who fought on the side of the Nazis.'
An Italian colonel who wished to remain anonymous also told the periodical
that 'the Albanian extremists are only waiting for us to leave so they can
level the Serbian churches and monasteries with the ground because they
believe that only by their complete destruction will they weaken the will
of the Serbs to return.'
The magazine also published an interview with Vittorio Sgarbi who believes
it is necessary to protect the Orthodox churches and monasteries which,
built between the 13th and the 14th centuries, 'have made this part of the
Balkans a real treasury of artistic masterpieces'. Sgarbi notes especially
the frescoes 'decorated with so much vivacity and originality, which is
extremely difficult considering the rigidity of the Byzantine style.' 'In
some instances,' adds Sgarbi, 'it is as if we are looking at Giotto.'
BERSELLI - ITALIANS WILL
CONTINUE TO PROTECT MONASTERIES IN THEIR AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY, INCLUDING
FEB. 20 - "Italian soldiers will continue to protect Serbian Orthodox
monasteries in their zone of responsibility, including the beautiful
Decani Monastery." This assurance comes from the Italian deputy minister
of defense Filippo Berselli. This response followed alarming news
published in the magazine "30 Giorni" that since 1999 Albanian extremists
have used explosive to destroy 110 Orthodox churches.
According to the magazine, now the medieval jewel, Decani Monastery, is
also at risk due to the announced withdrawal of Italian KFOR soldiers who
have been protecting it for the past three years. One of the monks, Father
Sava, has also written to the KFOR command expressing his concern.
Deputy minister Berselli neverthless assures: "The unit protecting the
monastery will remain as assigned. Italian soldiers will continue to
control their zone of responsibility, to protect this church and to
guarantee security for the monks there. I completely assure that they will
not be abandoned."
Berselli personally visited Kosovo not long ago and also visited Decani
Monastery. "This church," he adds, "represents an important part of the
historical and artistic heritage of Kosovo which absolutely must be
SERBS REJECT DECLARATION
MITROVICA, February 20, 2003 - At a meeting of associated Serb
municipalities and settlements in Kosovo and Metohija to be held on
Tuesday, a document will be adopted completely rejecting the Albanian
declaration of Kosovo independence, said the chairman of the Serb National
Council (SNC) of Northern Kosovo Milan Ivanovic today.
At a press conference in Kosovska Mitrovica, Ivanovic said that
invitations to the meeting were sent to Serb representatives duly elected
in the Kosovo elections as well as assemblymen and assemblywomen in
municipal assemblies, members of the Return (Povratak) Coalition and
representatives of the international community.
"We will show that any attempt to undermine state sovereignty and
integrity can only end in our legitimate right to defend our country. We
will call on our officials to successfully defend our territorial
integrity in accordance with UN Resolution 1244 if anyone attempts to
proclaim the existence of another state in the area inhabited by Serbs,"
Regarding the arrest of members of the disbanded Albanian Kosovo
Liberation Army, the vice-chairwoman of the Serb National Council of
Kosovo and Metohija Rada Trajkovic stated that "prosecutors of the Hague
tribunal are already in the apartment of Democratic Party of Kosovo leader
"It's only a question of political judgment when they will enter his
bedroom and arrest him," said Trajkovic.
She expressed the expectation that destabilization in Kosovo provisional
institutions would ensure as well as cooling of relations between
international officials and Albanians because the latter view the arrest
of their leaders as the arrest of liberators.
NATO ARRESTS KEY STEP FOR
JUSTICE IN KOSOVO
New York, February 19, 2003) NATO's arrest of three Kosovar Albanians
indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
(ICTY) is an important step for the cause of justice in the Balkans, Human
Rights Watch said today.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (U.S.A)
February 8, 2003
"There is still a huge justice gap relating to Kosovo. The Tribunal should
hold the most senior alleged war criminals of all sides accountable, but
accountability for lower-level war criminals is also vital to long-term
hopes of reconciliation."
Europe and Central Asia Division
Monday, February 17, troops of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) arrested
three former Kosovo Liberation Army members on war crimes charges.
According to the ICTY indictment, the three served as wartime
"commanders/guards" at a prison camp in the Glogovac/Gllogofc area and are
charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity against Kosovo Serb
and Albanian civilians in mid-1998.
Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu and Agim Murtezi are the first Kosovo Albanians
publicly indicted by the ICTY. Authorities in Serbia have argued that the
absence of indictments of Kosovo Albanians is evidence of the tribunal's
bias against Serbs.
"These indictments defeat the claims of the Tribunal's critics that it was
ignoring abuses committed by Kosovo Albanian rebels," said Elizabeth
Andersen, executive director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of
Human Rights Watch. "It is clear that the Tribunal prosecutor will issue
indictments against alleged war criminals on all sides, if and when she
gathers compelling evidence. Authorities in the region should do more to
assist the tribunal in that effort."
The Tribunal had also issued a fourth arrest warrant for Fatmir Limaj, a
former member of the KLA general staff. According to some press reports on
Tuesday evening, Limaj was taken into custody outside Kosovo earlier that
day and was about to be transferred to The Hague. The indictment against
the four contains nine counts of unlawful imprisonment, torture, murder
and the cruel treatment of Kosovo Serb and Albanian civilians held at the
Lapusnik/Llapushnik Prison Camp of the KLA. According to the indictment,
Limaj was "responsible for the operation" of the prison camp.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the recent arrests but cautioned that they are
only one step on the long road to a full accounting of crimes committed in
Kosovo. Human Rights Watch urged the authorities in Serbia and Montenegro
and U.N.-administered Kosovo to step up efforts to prosecute persons
implicated in war crimes.
"There is still a huge justice gap relating to Kosovo," Andersen said.
"The Tribunal should hold the most senior alleged war criminals of all
sides accountable, but accountability for lower-level war criminals is
also vital to long-term hopes of reconciliation."
Human Rights Watch said that the local authorities who must bring
lower-level perpetrators to justice have to date not risen to the task.
Serbian courts have opened only three war crimes cases so far arising from
the 1998-99 events in Kosovo, although the number of perpetrators within
their jurisdiction is in the hundreds. At the same time, the ICTY and the
Kosovo courts have a huge task to prosecute crimes against non-Albanians
during and after the war. After three and a half years of international
administration, the Kosovo judiciary has failed to indict anyone for war
crimes against non-Albanians, and only a handful of people have been
successfully prosecuted for war crimes against Kosovo Albanians.
The ICTY indictments confirm credible reports that Kosovo Albanian rebels
are responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law
in multiple incidents during the 1998-1999 armed conflict with the
Belgrade forces. In that same conflict, Serbian forces waged a campaign of
massive killings, expulsions and destruction against Kosovo's ethnic
SERBS MAY BACK REBEL
REPUBLIC IN KOSOVO
The Times (UK)
February 22, 2003
By John Phillips
will sponsor a breakaway Serbian mini-state in Kosovo if the West prevents
Serbian troops returning to the province to guarantee Serb rights, Zoran
Djindjic, the Serbian Prime Minister, said yesterday. In an interview with
The Times, Dr Djindjic dismissed the American contention that it is too
early to discuss Kosovo, saying that its hard-won democracy could be at
This month, the United States issued a statement saying that it was
concerned with developments in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo and said that
any attempt to force the pace of change could lead to instability.
Dr Djindjic said nationalist extremists could regain power in Belgrade in
elections next year if the international community did not stop Kosovo’s
ethnic Albanian majority obtaining independence, which, he argued, the UN
was already fostering.
'What is going on is the transfer of all sovereignty to the Kosovar
institutions,' he said. 'This didn’t just happen. It was planned.
International institutions are creating a fully independent Kosovo. By
passing laws in Kosovo’s parliament they don’t care what happens in
Dr Djindjic, a formidable opponent of Slobodan Milosevic, received Western
support after the former Yugoslav President was overthrown in 2000.
Recently, however, his increasingly patriotic stance has alarmed Western
diplomats. But Dr Djindjic is now concerned about a nationalist backlash.
He said that the powers of Kosovo’s parliament, elected under the auspices
of the UN interim administration, exceeded the 'substantial autonomy',
envisaged under UN Resolution 1244.
According to Dr Djindjic, this outrages Serb refugees from Kosovo in
Serbia, who make up about 15 per cent of the electorate.
'They would explode if Kosovo became fully independent. People would say
my Government was not defending them,' he said.
'It is time to put our cards on the table. The international community
should say how it imagines the future. I don’t think that democratic
government can survive if we don’t do enough now.
'Next year we have elections. Kosovo will be the issue. We can’t say it is
not time now. We can offer a solution from Belgrade’s side but, if we say
we are unable to do that, nationalistic forces will say: ‘We have a
Dr Djindjic said that 'a thousand or a few hundred' Serb troops should be
deployed in Kosovo to enable Serb refugees to return.
'None of the promises have been implemented. All the promises to the
Albanian side have been implemented but nothing on the Serbian side.'
'I can leave office and say: ‘OK, I can’t handle this’. But what will come
after this Government? In the 2002 elections, the extreme nationalists,
led by (Radical Party leader Vojislav) Seselj, got 30 per cent.'
Dr Djindjic denies courting nationalist votes, saying he is entrenched
politically because he has outmanoeuvred his rival, Vojislav Kostunica.
Mr Kostunica became Yugoslav President after Milosevic’s downfall but was
marginalised when Yugoslavia became the Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
'Some people say this is an attempt to get support. I don’t need that now.
Kostunica is not competition,' he said.
'My proposal is to give the Kosovo Serbs constitutional rights and the
institutional tools to protect their interests. As a first step it would
be enough for the Serbs to be recognised like the Croats in the Bosnian
federation. The Croats were 17 per cent and they got a third of
representation. In 1999, Kosovo’s Serbs were 18 per cent.
'The people say: ‘Why do Albanians in Macedonia come into the constitution
and why do Croats in Bosnia? Why South Tyrol? Why ten other situations?’
What should I answer?' Without a Western-brokered compromise, he said
Belgrade would not shrink from partition; with the Serb majority in
northern Kosovo, next to Serbia proper, forming a breakaway mini-state
similar to the Republic of Srpska in Bosnia.
Ethnic Albanian leaders would oppose that since the province’s mineral
wealth is in the north around the city of Mitrovica and war could erupt
again in Kosovo threatening Nato peacekeepers.
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
Daily News (KDN) News List
The views expressed by the authors of newspaper articles or other texts
which are not official communiqués or news reports by the Diocese are
their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Serbian
If you received this message by
error or you don`t want to receive our e-mails anymore, please write to
Our Newsletters are available on
our ERP KIM Info-service Web-Page:
Additional information on our Diocese
and the life of the Kosovo Serb Community may be found at:
Copyright 2003, ERP KIM Info-Service