April 24, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 24-04-03

CONTENTS:

BISHOP ARTEMIJE MEETS WITH THE HEAD OF U.S. OFFICE IN PRISTINA
"If this is the situation under the administration and control of UNMIK, Serbs are right to ask themselves what they can expect when the Albanians running those institutions take over completely," said Bishop Artemije.regarding the issue of transfer of competences from UNMIK to local Kosovo institutions

OCCUPATION BY BAD EXAMPLE - WHATEVER HAPPENED TO KOSOVO ANYWAY?
The West would be deluding itself if it really believed that Kosovo's future is bright. However, behind the self-congratulatory and obligatory lip service, quiet despair is growing amongst imperial officials high and low

KOSOVO PEACEKEEPERS ARREST GUERILLA CHIEF
NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo have arrested a former commander of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla force wanted by Serbian police, Beta news agency reported late on Tuesday.

PASCHAL ENCYCLICAL OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

LET US STOP DESTROYING OURSELVES
Interview with HRH Crown Prince Alexander II published in Magazine “Puls Srba”, April 2003

More News Available on our:
KOSOVO DAILY NEWS LIST (KDN)
KDN Archive

This newsletter is available on our ERP KIM Web-site:
/erpkim24apr03.html


BISHOP ARTEMIJE MEETS WITH THE HEAD OF U.S. OFFICE IN PRISTINA

"If this is the situation under the administration and control of UNMIK, Serbs are right to ask themselves what they can expect when the Albanians running those institutions take over completely," said Bishop Artemije.regarding the issue of transfer of authorities from UNMIK to local Kosovo institutions

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Reno Harnish, head of the U.S. Office in Pristina, and Bishop Artemije, April 23, 2003
(click here for the larger photo)

ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica Monastery, April 23, 2003

Today in the episcopal residence in Gracanica Monastery Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija met with the head of the U.S. Office in Pristina, Reno Harnish. The dominant themes of the discussion were the return of displaced persons and the participation of Serbs in the Council for Transfer of Competences.

Mr. Harish informed Bishop Artemije that the United States and other Western countries are exerting great efforts toward the return of displaced persons because, he stated, this is a key issue for the multi-ethnicity of Kosovo. According to Mr. Harnish, it is thanks to the efforts of the U.S. that about 500 persons returned to their homes in Kosovo last year. He added that this year 10 million dollars have been earmarked for assistance and encouragement of returns, 7.5 million of which will be spent to assist displaced persons in Serbia, as well as those wishing to return to their homes in Kosovo. Mr. Harish indicated that he personally spoke with 150 residents in Bujanovac who had fled from the region of Vitina, and that they told him they wished to return home. U.S. Office officials are in regular contact with them. The head of the U.S. Office in Pristina also informed Bishop Artemija that this year the attempt will be made to return displaced persons to urban centers as well, instead of only to rural areas, as has been the case so far. Gnjilane and Prizren are considered especially suitable as international representatives believe that Albanians there more readily accept Serbs than in other locations. Mr. Harnish also said that he had personally visited the Serbs in the YU Program building in Pristina and that he was personally working on making them less isolated.

Bishop Artemije thanked Mr. Harnish for this information and added that it is very important for returns to also take place in the Vitina region where many Serbs suffered great persecution after the war. He expressed the sincere hope that this year words will finally be transformed into deeds if multi-ethnicity in Kosovo and Metohija is to be created.

With regard to the participation of Serb representatives in the Council for Transfer of Competences, the head of the U.S. Office in Pristina explained that the United States and other Western countries support this process so that, at least with respect to economic issues, the local population would assume responsibility. Mr. Harnish explained that UNMIK firmly intends to retain the judicial system and security under its own control. In his opinion, the transfer of competences would contribute greatly to the five Serb municipalities.

Bishop Artemije expressed the opinion that he personally has not noticed that the participation of the Return (Povratak) Coalition in the Kosovo Parliament has contributed to an improvement of the situation on the ground because not one proposal by the Serb caucus has been realized. He cited several concrete examples demonstrating to Mr. Harnish that institutions in Kosovo and Metohija are not multiethnic at all, and that they do not serve the interests of all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity.

The Bishop especially noted the situation in the Pristina Clinical Center, where not one Serb physician is working, nor has any Serb been able to request medical treatment in this institution in the past year. The situation, explained the Bishop, is completely identical at Pristina University, where there is not one Serb professor or student, even though there were several thousand before the war. Things are similar at other institutions where Serbs cannot seek assistance nor even, in most cases, physically access. "If this is the situation under the administration and control of UNMIK, Serbs are right to ask themselves what they can expect when the Albanians running those institutions take over completely," said Bishop Artemije. "How can I believe that Serbs will return to Decani municipality, which is inhabited exclusively by Albanians who will assume all authority? How can I be tranquil with respect to my monks and Visoki Decani Monastery?" Bishop Artemije asked the head of the U.S. mission.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Artemije pointed out the case of the school in the village of Crkolez near Istok (Western part of Kosovo). Despite the desire of the Spanish city of Ceuta to finance repair of this school so that Serb children no longer have to attend class in an old and delapidated private house, and the willingness of the Diocese of the Raska and Prizren to donate one of its land parcels for the school, the mayor of Istok (an Albanian) and the UNMIK administrator refuse to allow this and are putting pressure on the Serbs in this isolated Serb village to build a multi-ethnic school to include Albanian children from the area -- despite the fact that there are already dozens of ethnically pure Albanian schools in the municipality. In the opinion of the Serbs, said Bishop Artemije, this would lead to the disappearance of the Serb community in Crkolez because the Albanian children are very intimidating and aggressive, as can be seen from the numerous incidents throughout the Province. "This is yet another example," said the Bishop, "of how Serbs in mixed locations do not enjoy institutional protection."

The head of the U.S. Office in Pristina promised to carefully study all the cited examples, and to work on resolving these problems.


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OCUPATION BY BAD EXAMPLE - WHATEVER HAPPENED TO KOSOVO, ANYWAY?
The West would be deluding itself if it really believed that Kosovo's future is bright. However, behind the self-congratulatory and obligatory lip service, quiet despair is growing amongst imperial officials high and low

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ANTIWAR.COM, Wednesday, April 23, 2003


by Christopher Deliso

Struggling to impose order and democratic rule in Afghanistan, the US has now moved on to the equally great challenge of keeping "liberated" Iraq in one piece. This formidable task involves ensuring that various ethnic, political and religious groups (Kurds and Arabs, Sunnis and Shiites, etc.) refrain from intimidation, internecine warfare and revenge killings. Stabilizing Iraq also means setting up a democratic government with the full participation of the people, and establishing respect for the rule of law - in addition to rebuilding a shattered infrastructure and torpid economy.

As for the last of these challenges, US officials are optimistic that Iraq's oil riches will pick up wherever international generosity leaves off - and that the country will therefore avoid the kind of perpetual economic gloom that still haunts another of Empire's unsuccessful experiments - Kosovo.

Iraq and Kosovo: Some Startling Similarities

Reading over the past week's headlines, it seems clear that the US has failed to learn from experience. In June 1999, NATO "liberated" the Serbian province of Kosovo from the itinerant "dictator," Slobodan Milosevic. Within hours, the Albanian majority began a bloody campaign of retribution against Kosovo's Serbian minority - killing, expelling, looting, and taking over property by force. In newly "liberated" Kurdish areas of Iraq, the same phenomenon seems to be occurring. Indeed, just change the proper names, and a recent dispatch from northern Iraq (17 April) could just as well have been written four years ago in Kosovo:

".on Tuesday, however, Kurds from the neighboring village of Indijah came to Muntasir and told the Arabs they had 24 hours to leave. Across the fronts of buildings in the hamlet, Kurds scrawled the initials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of two militia-backed political parties in the north. The names of Kurdish peasants were written on three houses that they evidently planned to occupy.

"We are defenseless," said Hamad Oweid, an Arab shepherd and father of five daughters. "Many families left to hide in the mountains. We don't know what else to do."

Three Cheers for the Docile Protectorate!

That said, it is comforting to know that Kosovo's viceroy, Michael Steiner, has cheerfully proposed applying the Kosovo model of occupation to Iraq. Speaking to a local TV station recently, Steiner declared:

".an integrated system, with a clear hierarchical structure and shared competencies has been installed in Kosovo. In order to complete their mission successfully, the (Iraq) peace missions should abide by two
principles: receive a clear mandate and enforce order and democracy right from the beginning. In order to achieve that, it is necessary to set up a sort of protectorate."

"Order and democracy" - yes, indeed! Could Mr. Steiner be referring to the rampant destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches (over 110), which occurred after NATO had arrived, and which still continues? Or perhaps he means the almost total ethnic cleansing of not only Serbs, but also Roma, Turks and Macedonian Muslims, and the abysmal standard of living for the few who remain? Or perhaps Steiner is referring to the chronic mafia activity and inter-Albanian vendetta killings that continue to plague the province and block its transition to stability?

Even though Steiner suggests employing "ten times the number" of foreign overseers as in Kosovo (16,000), the quantity is not the problem; the question of willpower is. If the US shows in Iraq the same lackluster, incompetent response as it did after Kosovo's "liberation," there is little hope for the newly vulnerable minorities of Iraq. And, as resurgent Albanian secessionism in the Balkans has shown, this tends to cause headaches further on down the line for America and its allies.

Indeed, the Empire proceeds at its peril - and that of the Iraqi people - if it chooses to reprise the ineptitude and non-accountability of its Balkan experiments.

A Mission of Quiet Despair

The West would be deluding itself if it really believed that Kosovo's future is bright. However, behind the self-congratulatory and obligatory lip service, quiet despair is growing amongst imperial officials high and low.

The NATO war against Serbia in 1999 succeeded only in destroying a lot of civilian infrastructure, killing innocent people, and causing a real refugee crisis where none had previously existed. There was neither an exit strategy nor a real plan for what would happen after the fighting ended. Although war looks exciting for TV viewers back home, reconstruction and keeping the peace are much less sexy. The US failed to confront the uncomfortable reality - namely, that Kosovo cannot survive outside of a larger state.

As a provincial protectorate, Kosovo is an onerous burden on the West. Yet as an independent country, it would have neither credibility nor economical sustainability. Returning to Serbia is unthinkable; yet being swallowed up by Albania is a deeply unappetizing thought for the rowdy province's neighbors - as well as to many living in Albania itself.

Incredibly, this same scenario and lack of vision have been replicated in Iraq - where the failure to plan ahead has resulted in massive civil and religious unrest and the needless looting and destruction of antiquities - and that after little more than a week of "freedom." While the powerful US military can no doubt stifle much of the unrest in the near future, simmering hostilities and hatred of Americans will keep Iraq dangerous for a long time to come - and no closer to stability. This for the simple reason that as with Kosovo, change was not inaugurated from within, but from violent outside intervention. Gunboat diplomacy is doomed to fail - especially when the would-be colonizers have no appreciation of the subtleties at work in local political and social relationships. Only too late are they starting to realize that the Western principles of democracy and self-determination may find some pretty, er, creative expression in the new Iraq.

Kosovo's Illusory Economy

In an incisive recent article, Dr. Sam Vaknin makes the case for the essentially unsustainable economic state of Kosovo. As with the protectorate's political structure, its economy is a simulation, an illusion prolonged by international goodwill and voluntary remittances from the Albanian diaspora. Employment now stands at 56 percent; of those employed, it is predicted that up to 20 percent will lose their jobs in the near future, as the international organizations for which they work reduce their presence. This means that unemployment could soar to over 70 percent within the next year.

According to Dr. Vaknin, the political vagueness between UNMIK and the Kosovo Parliament has created a kind of vacuum, conducive to legal shortcomings and external manipulation. Kosovo has no law on foreign investment, and mortgage financing is absent. Another legal problem is that of land ownership (this has caused much confusion since 1999, when Albanians forcibly took over Serb houses and property). Privatization of utilities is a 'distant dream;' the creation of the Kosovo Trust Agency has done little precisely because of the ambiguity between UNMIK's powers and those of the Kosovar Albanians. Lacking a legal framework for collateral and bankruptcy, banks keep most of their liabilities abroad, at the same time offering high interest rates and disadvantageous repayment terms.

$5 Billion Later, Still Shabby

In Iraq, American companies are now swarming to win lucrative reconstruction contracts - effectively squeezing out local competition. The precedent, however, had long been set in the Balkans. Tenders for Kosovo's complex infrastructure jobs have usually been taken by foreign competitors. Of 861 socially owned firms, only 330 are viable. Avers Dr.
Vaknin:

".Kosovo has no private sector to speak of - though it has registered 50,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. Of 2,774 members of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce - 1,667 were fly-by-night construction outfits."

To these "outfits" we can add the multitude of gas stations (like Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, far more than necessary) that serve as fronts for mafia activity.

Kosovo's "government" has a meager revenue base, and its trade deficit almost equals its gross domestic product. In order to maintain the simulation of economic viability, Kosovo relies on the remittances (up to $1.5 million per year) of its expatriate workers and mafiosi.

As Dr. Vaknin reminds, $5 billion has been "poured" since 1999 into the money sieve that is Kosovo. Despite this huge amount of aid, infrastructure remains dilapidated, electricity is unpredictable, and roads and railways are poor. The situation is not helped by the periodic destruction of bridges by Albanian extremists.

The moral of this story is twofold. First of all, Kosovo is proof that even the most generous of reconstruction packages will always be prone to mismanagement, corruption and failure. Second - and more provocative - is the fact that, while humans survive on food, extreme nationalism thrives on its deprivation. As we will now see, recent events have shown that the Kosovo secessionist movement is bubbling happily along. When unemployment reaches 70 percent, and it becomes clear that the Americans (and no one else) will voluntarily invest in the place, how long will it take for the cauldron to boil over for real?

Tensions Rise Between UNMIK and the Albanians

The fundamental issue of the day, however, is that of self-determination and self-governance versus the restrictions imposed by UN Resolution 1244, by which Kosovo is administered. As the US recklessly rushes into forestalling this problem with the Kurds and Sh'ites, it seems to have forgotten the morass that is Kosovo. After four years in suspended animation, the Albanians are tired of playing at governance. Their virtual parliament must run every important political and economic decision past the colonial administration. The wishes of the two often collide. Not surprisingly, the Albanians - not historically known for their patience - yearn to take over for real.

They are even starting to talk like it. Kosovo "president" Ibrahim Rugova recently declared that, "Kosovo and Albania are looking forward to integrate into the European Union and the North-Atlantic Alliance (NATO)." As to whether they would be doing this together or separately, he did not say. And Tanjug (on April Fool's Day, no less) gave details of "prime minister" Bajram Rexhepi's meeting with Agim Ceku - leader of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and an accomplished war criminal - to beef up the KPC's role. For the press, Rexhepi stated:

".we will observe (UN Security Council) Resolution 1244 and step by step, in the transfer of power (of UNMIK to provisional Kosovo
institutions) the KPC will get greater powers, and it is our wish that it should become the future army of Kosovo."

The very idea of a "national army" for Kosovo has sent shockwaves through the Balkans, and provoked calls for a self-defensive army from Kosovo's Serbs. Albanian parliamentarians are growing increasingly exasperated with the colonial administration, and especially Steiner's habitual rejection of their amateurish attempts at legislating. In his "strongest letter so far," Steiner stated last week that he would not approve four new laws (on higher education, international trade, telecommunication and management of public finances). He ordered the Albanians to amend the bills and make them more 1244-friendly before the April 30th deadline. If the deadline is not met, declared Steiner, "UNMIK will amend the laws itself and proclaim their effectiveness."

Feeling themselves thus to be chronically thwarted and babysat, Kosovo Albanians are growing more and more frustrated with their overlords. Parliamentary chairman Nexhat Daci has threatened that future draft laws may not be sent for approval if Steiner keeps rejecting them. On 11 April, Daci told local media that, "Kosovo no longer needs such a high number of international bureaucrats, which has become an obstacle to its democratic and economic development and is becoming increasingly costly to both the UN and the province." Daci's political advisor, Ramush Tahiri, went even further, declaring that, ".the international administration lacks either knowledge or willingness to implement its mission."

It's hard to imagine that the residents of Iraq - far more culturally and geographically separate from the West than the Albanians - will prove more malleable. Major headaches lie ahead for any Empire-imposed government in Iraq.

Militant Extremism on the Rise

Worst of all, after four years of KFOR policing, Kosovo is still held hostage by mysterious groups of armed thugs who threaten Serbs and Albanians alike. A variety of competing extremist groups - motivated separately by money, ideology, and religion - are now operating in Kosovo. Chief of all is the "Albanian National Army" (ANA, or in Albanian, the AKSH). In the past months, these extremists have planted bombs in south Serbia, manned armed checkpoints on Kosovo roads, killed Serbian police, and bombed a courthouse in Macedonia, among others. They are probably also responsible for the murder of Polish NATO soldiers in Macedonia, the Christmas day school bombing in Kumanovo, shooting up police stations in Pristina, and the recent shooting deaths of two material witnesses in a trial of former KLA soldiers in Kosovo.

According to Western security officials in Pristina, the ANA is motivated by the grand dream of "Greater Albania," a plan by which Albania would swallow up the whole of Kosovo, digesting bits of Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece in the process. Backers of this plan claim that the violent construction of such an anachronistic 19th Century nation-state harmonizes perfectly well with Western values and American ideals. Whatever they're smoking, I would sure like a hit.

Uniting the Motherland - from London

Citing an ANA source, another Albanian newspaper (Shqipëria e Bashkuar) recently reported that the paramilitaries were linked to the "Front for National Unification of Albanians" (FBSHK), a diaspora organization centered in London, which seeks ".the reunion of ethnic Albanian territories into a unique national Albanian state in the Balkans, as well as removing more than a century old colonial occupation of Serbs, Slav-Macedonians and Greeks."

Although extremism is bliss, insofar as statements like these are concerned, when it comes down to actions the ANA is more PR-conscious. This explains the group's attempt to distance itself from the militants who recently clashed with KFOR troops near a central Kosovo village. Claiming that the real perpetrators are criminals trying to create ".a bad image for the AKSH and FBSHK before the international and Albanian population," the source made the sincere - but presumptuous - offer that ".AKSH special forces will assist UNMIK police in the fight to paralyze these mafia groups with masks and the crimes they commit."

Strange as that might sound, it is de facto not too far from the reality. After all, the Kosovo Protection Corps was formed for KLA veteran soldiers and commanders (i.e., Agim Ceku). Also, it has been proven recently that active KPC members are also moonlighting as AKSH guerrillas.

When the ANA took responsibility for bombing a railway bridge in northern Kosovo, on the Serbian border (12 April), it also came out that two of its hapless "special forces" soldiers were killed in the explosion. UNMIK chief Michael Steiner reiterated his condemnation of the ANA as a terrorist organization. As it turned out, the dead men were associated, not only with the KPC, but also with every Albanian paramilitary formation that has fought in Kosovo, Macedonia and south Serbia. In fact, one of the men (Islam Berisha), had last month laid a wreath on the grave of a local hero, in the name of the AKSH, "following a decision by the Front for the National Unification of Albanians." The ramifications of having the "legitimate" authorities make a gesture in the name of a terrorist organization were sufficiently embarrassing that UNMIK is thinking of firing Berisha's former KPC commander. As the US has discovered in Iraq, uniforms are donned pretty arbitrarily in Kosovo.

A New Campaign for the North of Kosovo?

Most disturbing of all is the fact that the Albanians are taking the war to a new front - northern, Serb-inhabited Kosovo. This is open confirmation of a desire to ethnically cleanse the territory completely. From the above-cited article we get a pretty good sense of the
irredentists' intentions:

".Mitrovica is Albanian land and we will not allow it to remain occupied by the Serbs. ANA has decided to cut all links of the Albanian lands with Belgrade. (the) time has come when the international factor should correct the mistake of giving the northern part of Kosovo Mitrovica to the Serbian authorities. It is (also) time for the 2,500 hectares of ethnic Albanian land, which the genocide authorities of Serbia (have) given to the artificial power of Macedonia, to be returned to the Albanians. The relevant international factor should hear the reasonable voice that the Albanians in their ethnical hearths (sic) are decisive and ready to make sacrifice in order to unite the Albanians into one unique nation on the Balkans."

A recent Serbian report (link missing) attests to an even more aggressive, unprecedented campaign against one of the Serbs' only safe-havens. Mitrovica's river divides it on ethnic lines. Serbs avoid the southern part of the city; Albanians, it appears, are fearless. Apparently, uniformed ANA members with heavy weapons and armored jeeps have been seen rolling through north Mitrovica in recent days.

The report goes on to state specific locations in south Mitrovica from where the ANA operates, as well as details about KFOR weapon seizures there. It is further claimed that the ANA in Mitrovica is cooperating now with mujahedin of the famous "Abu Bekir Sadik" group.

Kosovo, Macedonia and the Rise of Anti-Americanism

This, I think, is as good a place to leave off as any. Whenever the subject of Islamic terrorists in the Balkans comes up, the US and its apologists have a habit of humming loudly while blocking their ears. It is incontestable that before September 11th, the US aided or abetted the arrival and employment of foreign jihadis in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. Yet it is of course too embarrassing to admit this. However, as the disastrous Neocon-crafted plan to destroy Islamic terrorism unfolds in the Middle East, the Empire would be well advised to heed what former allies in the Balkans are saying.

Kosovo's political and economic problems are, respectively, intractable and insurmountable. Although these problems were perpetuated and exacerbated by NATO's 1999 intervention, they always existed and probably always will. However, the increasing aggression in the Middle East has also meant a concomitant rise in anti-Americanism in the Balkans - notably, among former best buddies, the Albanians of Kosovo and Macedonia. Religious leaders are getting a far more sympathetic ear now that Albanians are beginning to identify with Iraqis on the basis of their shared religion.

Numerous incidents have been recorded in the past two months that show serious security concern on the part of the US in the Balkans. American soldiers at Kosovo's Camp Bondsteel were put under "lockdown" when the war began. The embassy in Skopje closed down for all non-essential purposes. In some cafés in Pristina, Americans were forbidden. Owners feared their presence could incite attacks from Islamic terrorists, local or foreign.

This phenomenon has been noticed in Macedonia, separated from Kosovo only by low mountains. During the war, an Albanian pastry chef laughed at me upon hearing news of American combat deaths: ".ha ha ha! Big problems for Mr. Bush!" he gloated. And an Albanian taxi driver in the village of Cerkezi growled, "Bush is worse than Milosevic or Hitler."

The cab driver, whose radio was tuned to the wailing of Arabic prayers, voiced support for a local Albanian imam who allegedly recruited mujahedin during the 2001 uprising. Until now, such leaders would have commanded support only from a few. After Iraq, anything's possible.

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KOSOVO PEACEKEEPERS ARREST GUERRILLA CHIEF
NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo have arrested a former commander of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla force wanted by Serbian police, Beta news agency reported late on Tuesday.
 

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REUTERS
Tue April 22, 2003 08:14 PM ET

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo have arrested a former commander of an ethnic Albanian guerrilla force wanted by Serbian police, Beta news agency reported late on Tuesday.

Sefket Musliu was arrested in Kosovo on Tuesday on an international warrant, the agency quoted Serbian authorities as saying. It did not specify the charges against him.

Interpol's Web Site (www.interpol.int) says Musliu is wanted by Serbian police for assault, extortion and possession of firearms and ammunition.

Musliu is the former military chief of the now-disbanded Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB under its Albanian acronym), which waged an insurgency in 2000-2001 in southern Serbia's Presevo Valley, east of U.N.-governed Kosovo.

Serbian authorities want him to stand trial before a local court, Beta said.

A statement issued late on Tuesday by NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo said its troops had detained one man on April 22 for activities that "pose a threat to a safe and secure environment," but gave no name.

The Yugoslav province of Kosovo has been under U.N.-led administration since NATO's 1999 bombing campaign to halt Serbian repression against its ethnic Albanian majority.

The UCPMB staged a 16-month rebellion in southern Serbia against what they said was discrimination by the Serbian authorities against local Albanians. The guerrillas agreed to lay down their arms in May 2001 under a NATO-brokered deal in exchange for reforms.


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PASCHAL ENCYCLICAL OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

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The Serbian Orthodox Church
To her spiritual children at Pascha, 2003

PAVLE

By the grace of God

Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church—to all the clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our holy Church: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, with the joyous paschal greeting:

CHRIST IS RISEN!



Brothers and sisters in the Crucified and Resurrected Lord,
Our dear spiritual children,

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ,
let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus,
the only Sinless One,

just as millions of His disciples have worshipped Him through the centuries, and worship Him today.

What makes us Christians different from other people? Truly it is that we worship at His Cross and we glorify His Resurrection.

Our dear spiritual children both in the homeland and abroad, Christ’s Cross and His Resurrection constitute the essence of our life, our faith and our hope. The meaning of our birth, life and death were and are found in them. In the words of the Holy Apostle Paul, if Christ has not risen, then our faith is in vain and our lives are without meaning. (cf. I Cor. 15:14-19).

Through His Cross and Crucifixion the unspeakable Mystery of God’s love is revealed and given to us. Through them God reveals Himself to us as eternal true Love, as the Love which sacrifices itself for the other, for people and nations, and for the whole world. There is and can be no greater love than this. On the Cross Christ, the Son of God, shows Himself to us as the God Who not only calls us to love, but Who shows love in action, sacrificing Himself entirely for others. Christ’s sacrifice on Golgotha is the revelation of the great mystery of God’s self-sacrificial love by which God embraces and heals all beings and all creation. There is a kind of love in nature, that is, the common worldly love which brings joy and gives birth to new life. Earthly love is like this because it reflects the divine love which created the whole world and which instilled its breath into creatures and all beings. The more the love in this world, among people, is like this divine love, the more genuine and deeper it is. And there is no greater nor truer love than that which leads someone to sacrifice his life for his neighbor. Christ’s love was and is this kind of love. This is the kind of love which also belongs to His followers. Therefore only those people and nations which live by this crucified and resurrected love can consider themselves to be spiritually alive and worthy of eternal life. (cf Acts 13:46)

Besides the fact that the superabundant love of God is revealed and given to us by the Precious Cross of Christ and that by enduring it He has made us worthy of eternal life, it reveals yet another great truth to us: Christ’s crucifixion on the Cross reveals the meaning of human suffering. In the image of the Crucified Christ and in the images of the two thieves crucified with Him on Golgotha, the state of the entire human race is presented to us. Namely, suffering is the lot of everyone on earth, but the reasons why people suffer differ for each person. According to the Gospel of Christ, some suffer because of their sins, others because of the sins of their ancestors, and still others so that God’s name may be glorified in them. Thus on Golgotha, through the suffering of the most righteous One of all, Jesus Christ, God’s love was made known. The suffering of the repentant thief was for him unto the cleansing of his sins and of the evil things he had once done, and in his crucifixion he was washed by his blood and his repentance. But the other thief, the unrepentant one, who also suffered on the cross, by his hatred towards God and by his evil deeds made not only his suffering but also his very life meaningless.

What took place on Golgotha is what has happened throughout all of human history. The just suffer in order to become even more just: they pass through their suffering like gold through the furnace so that their righteousness might shine with an everlasting radiance.
For sinners who repent, suffering becomes a fountain of virtues and of regeneration, of unending wisdom and understanding. But those people who have no faith and no repentance for their sins become through suffering even more cruel; they wander ever deeper into spiritual blindness, hatred and bitterness towards God and man.

May the Risen Christ keep us all from being this third kind! And He will protect us if we “stand fast in the faith,” in the words of St. Paul, and if we become aware of the eternal truth of life that “It is through many tribulations that must we enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Acts 14:22). For the point of suffering in not merely to bring us to our senses, as the ancient Greeks would say, but to help people and nations “to turn away from useless things to the living God.” (Acts 14:15). Only when understood and experienced in this way can our own personal suffering, the suffering of our people past and present, and the suffering of all the peoples of the earth, acquire its true meaning and significance.

To repeat: All this is testified to by Christ’s passion on Golgotha and by His suffering, as seen in the light of the holy and brilliant Mystery of His Resurrection.

This is why we worship the Cross of Christ, and why we glorify His Resurrection! This is why His Cross and suffering have become victory over death and the medicine of immortality, the fountain of resurrection and eternal life. That which is the most senseless has become the source of deepest meaning. So the mystery of Christ’s resurrection is like the leaven of new life.

People of this world constantly talk about reforms in society and try to create a “new man.” Basing their reforms on changing “trivial matters” and on superficial adaptations to the spirit of this age, without any appreciation for the life-bearing fire of Christ’s Resurrection which establishes, renews and perpetuates everything it touches, they themselves become captives of emptiness and impermanence.

These are the kind of people who would also like to reform the Church, living under the delusion that it is like worldly, human organizations which, in order to survive, must constantly change and adapt themselves. But the Church measures life by the perfect measure of Christ’s Resurrection and the human dignity it reveals. As such it never ceases to renew every person who comes into this world, as well as every area and every structure of human life, calling them to constantly greater perfection and change for the better.
Having the infinity of God as the measure of everything which is earthly and human, not only does the Church call people and nations to a constant process of ever greater perfection and growth “into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13), but by the power of the Resurrection it gives the ability to achieve this never-ending growth. So, in giving everything its eternal meaning and significance, the Church cannot accept any kind of limits or restrictions to the carrying out of its divine mission. Nothing human is alien to her, but at the same time nothing human can enslave her—neither earthly life, nor death, nor time, nor whatever people do over time which restricts them: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39) Even while serving a particular nation, the Church attempts to be a light to all nations and all people, attempting to transform all peoples into one People, the People of God, that all may be one as the Father is one with the Son and the Holy Spirit (see John 17:21). Therefore, in the words of the Apostle, in the Church “none of us live to ourselves, and none of us die to ourselves. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the living and the dead.” (Romans 14: 8-9).

And so, brother and sisters, our dear spiritual children, let us worship Him, the Lord of life and death, the Lord Who is risen and Who bestows resurrection upon all creation, Who is the “Bread of Life” Who has “come down from heaven” and Who is given “for the life of the world!” (John 6: 48-51). Let us all sing with one mouth and one heart the joyous Paschal hymn:

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

CHRIST IS RISEN!

Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade at Pascha, 2003.
Your intercessors before the Crucified and Risen Lord,
Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch PAVLE

Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana JOVAN
Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coastlands AMPHILOHIJE
Metropolitan of Midwestern America CHRISTOPHER
Metropolitan of Dabro-Bosna NIKOLAJ

Bishop of Shabac-Valjevo LAVRENTIJE
Bishop of Nish IRINEJ
Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla VASILIJE
Bishop of Srem VASILIJE
Bishop of Banja Luka JEFREM
Bishop of Budim LUKIJAN
Bishop of Canada GEORGIJE
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) NIKANOR
Bishop for America and Canada (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) LONGIN
Bishop of Eastern America MITROPHAN
Bishop of Banat CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia DOSITEJ
Bishop of Ras and Prizren ARTEMIJE
Bishop - Administrator of Zica ATANASIJE
Bishop of Bihac and Petrovac CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Osijek and Baranja LUKIJAN
Bishop of Central Europe CONSTANTINE
Bishop of Western Europe LUKA
Bishop of Timok JUSTIN
Bishop of Vranje PAHOMIJE
Bishop of Sumadija JOVAN
Bishop of Slavonia SAVA
Bishop of Branicevo IGNATIJE
Bishop of Milesevo FILARET
Bishop of Dalmatia FOTIJE
Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina GRIGORIJE
Bishop of Budimlje and Niksic JOANIKIJE
Vicar Bishop of Hvostno ATANASIJE
Vicar Bishop of Jegar PORFIRIJE

Metropolitan of Veles and Povardara JOVAN,
Patriarchal Exarch of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ohrid

[Path of Orthodoxy translation]

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LET US STOP DESTROYING OURSELVES
Interview with HRH Crown Prince Alexander II published in Magazine “Puls Srba”, April 2003

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PULS SRBA, April 2003


We must now unite around our new government, that is, our new Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, who was elected by our Parliament · We should look up to the constitutional monarchies in EU, and particularly to Spain · If we cannot act as one nation, we are facing further deterioration of our territory


Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia and his familly


Nothing indicates that the state of emergency in Serbia is outside the gate of the Royal Palace. The guard of the Army of Serbia and Montenegro who is at the main gate post does not carry any weapon.


He is armed only with walkie-talkie, by which he calls personal security of Crown Prince Alexander II Karadjordjevic. A minute later, we are picked up by a blue “Audi” station wagon. One of the security men “flew” the winding road: we went by the thatched house, famous for being a “tapping” center at the times when the world leaders who were coming to see Tito used to stay at the Palace.

It is now empty. The blue Audi stopped in front of the Palace where several bodyguards were carefully watching around. The day was foggy. One of the hostesses at he took our coats at the entrance hall of the Palace. Crown Prince Alexander welcomed us in the salon. We went together into his famous Cabinet, an impressive room where many Serbian and Yugoslav rulers used to bring vitally important decisions.

How do you see the present moment in Serbia, where does Serbia go after everything that had happened?

Criminal assassination on the Prime Minister Djindjic was an assault on our entire nation. I feel sympathy for Ruzica Djindjic and their two wonderful children. Doctor Djindjic took up his post at a very difficult moment for our country. His goal was always the reforms and progress for our country. I think it is exactly what we all need now. We are trying to become a modern, democratic society in Southeastern Europe, and the only way to move forward is to support the reforms and make sure that all citizens understand what they mean. Out task is now a very difficult one, for due to this criminal act committed by mafia, we have gained negative image in Southeastern Europe again. We must now unite around our new government, that is, our new Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, who was elected by our Parliament. We must not work against each other. In addition, it is very important for us to explain to the international community and the EU in a precise manner – what the situation in our fatherland is. As I have mentioned a few weeks ago, a billion dollars was spent on bombing of our country. And very little of that money was directed into establishing democracy and peace after such a criminal aggression on our country. I recommend to all citizens of Serbia to gather around the Government of Serbia, to forget about criticizing and move forward, for we don’t have any more time to waste.

Your presence at the funeral and commemorative sessions was very prominent – you were among the ministers and top state officials. Does this gathering of the people mean your greater political engagement? Do you believe you could be an integrative factor in the country?


I can not avoid being a part of the political scene in our country. The name I bear is a historical one, I carry it with pride, and today it is a modern name that will always stand behind the full democratic process and human rights, respect of all religious communities and ethnic groups. Of course I have preferences in politics, and that is constitutional monarchy which I think is an excellent solution. But since I support and respect our politicians, that means I am friends with everybody and get along well with all of them. That is exactly the point of constitutional monarchy. I don’t take sides. At the temple of Saint Sava we all stood together while paying respect to a great politician who was murdered in a criminal way by the enemies of our country. We should work together to create a better future and to become attractive for big investors and foreign partners. That is essential. My contribution in that is also essential, for it sends a signal of stability throughout the world. It is positive that there are those who believe in constitutional monarchy among political parties and politicians. It is in their own interest that we all work together and have a neutral person as the head of state who would not take sides and interfere into daily politics, but provide unity and continuity. The fact that we all stood in the temple of Saint Sava and next to the grave of Zoran Djindjic was a symbol of unity, respect of our state and Djindjic’s family.

Serbia is facing constitutional reform and monarchist option emerges as a quite legitimate one. What is your view of the political struggle to prove those qualities of monarchy that are needed in Serbia today? Many believe that monarchy would provide stability that is so urgently needed now.

We should look up to the constitutional monarchies in EU. Particularly interesting is the situation in Spain, where it turned to full democracy after the period of fascist dictatorship, and became a member of EU. I think our country should look into what had happened in Spain, where the King kept all political factors and entities together. It was even made possible for the leaders of communist party to return to the country from the USSR. In our case we need a person who respects everybody, including those who don’t believe in God as well as those who do believe, and those of different religions. We must be one nation. And if we can’t act as one nation, we are facing further deterioration of our territory. We mustn’t allow fascist and extremist elements to take over control over us. Those are the enemies of our state, the enemies of new jobs, enemies of good social services and good conditions in our hospitals. Only democracy can solve the problems in our country and even in time provide expanding of our territories. Quite openly, I appeal for democratic discipline and the rule of law. The government has to be very strict, and we, the Serbs, must stand together. We have to stop with self-destructive criticism. If you don’t like it, don’t talk about it. I shall be even sharper – go to hell. and I have every right to say that now when I live in my beloved country. This goes for the Serbs in our country as well as for the Diaspora. Enough with that!

Why do you think the Diaspora is not present more in the processes that you have just mentioned?

After the fall of Berlin wall our former cunning dictator abused both religion and nationalism for his own interests. We were all drawn into that story because of his ability to convince us in it. Those days are gone, and the Diaspora has started recognizing its authentic interest in the fatherland. As the consequence of that period, substantial private funds were spent – and the Diaspora got discouraged. After 5 October we all expected that the international community will be the first to help us. Some of that aid did arrive, but generally speaking much more should have arrived. The Diaspora might have hesitated, having bitter experiences from the past. That is why I want to send out a signal – that we are ready for the Diaspora’s participation.

What are your personal connections with major economic circles in Great Britain and the USA? Your close personal relationships with the American Ambassador Montgomery and the British Ambassador Crawford are well known. How much do you personally do to attract the British and the American investments into Serbia, particularly in the light of some recent speculations from the journalists’ and diplomatic circles – of this region becoming the interest sphere of Great Britain and the USA?

This zone is of interest to serious investors. We should reject all Balkan conspiracy theories and remove them from our society. We have to be quite serious and turn to serious investments that would bring money and jobs, and not deal with “Mickey Mouse” investments. Investments have no borders, nor they should be tolerated. We were not successful in public image and creating a positive image. We should engage a professional PR agency that would present us as attractive for the investors. That might be expensive, but I believe the money would be well spent, especially in the USA, where everything is about lobbying.

We also have some brilliant young people who are ready to help. I was very impressed by the fact that the funeral of Zoran Djindjic was attended by a lot of young people who all want a better future. There were hundreds of thousands of them, and they were united.

Has the political establishment done everything to attract Diaspora, to show to it that there is a healthy reform course here? Is hesitating to restore elementary human rights to the people who are outside their country not on their own will, in fact distancing from the gathering of Diaspora and homeland?

We must respect all types of Diaspora – those who fought for the King and the Fatherland , those who fought for their country, those who were looking for a better future. We are going to keep cooperating with our neighbors, support free and open borders. The Diaspora must understand that clearly. There must not be Berlin walls around us. I was very impressed by the coming of the leaders of ex-Yugoslav republics to the funeral of Zoran Djindjic.

Three strongest organizations of Serbian Diaspora in America have united and become a kind of a pilot project for what you have mentioned earlier – gathering around common goal. Would a summit in Belgrade, with representatives of the Crown, SANU, the Church and intellectuals present – be a stimulus for more efficient joint actions of all the Serbs?

I am glad to hear the organizations in America have united. We must not divide between ourselves. What you have suggested is a very positive idea. Of course, the decision on that has to be on our Government. As for me, I am always ready to open the doors of The Royal and The White Palaces – we are going to do that at Easter, when the representatives of different Diaspora groups will have a meeting here. I also think it is highly important to restore the Diaspora’s right to vote and citizenship. But, I do not support Diaspora in the Parliament. Members of the Parliament should be the people from constituencies in our country, not the people who live abroad.

What is your experience of being the Diaspora, what was your view of the homeland? How much is that experience of use to you today, when you think of the vital and political issues regarding Diaspora?

It was a tragedy to be a refugee. I became the enemy of the state when I was two. Kardelj signed the decree which took away my citizenship and exiled me from the country. What could have I done against my country when I was two? But still, I don’t have anything against our past. Our past should be viewed as an incredible experience which we should try not to repeat ever again.

What is your message to Diaspora and the people of good will, having in mind what is ahead of us, and the messages of several hundred of thousands of people during the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister?

My message is – life goes on! We have to provide the democratic process to go on even faster, we have to organize ourselves so that we present ourselves as good tradesmen abroad, support our current government and respect each other regardless of religious or ethnic origin, as well as to respect those who are not religious. I also appeal to Diaspora to come as often as possible to our homeland. We need each other.

Your grandfather was assassinated in Marseilles, but back in 1921 another attempt on his life was made when a hand grenade was thrown at him some 100 meters away from the spot where the Prime Minister Djindjic was shot. Our rulers were assassinated, some are on trial, some disappeared. What is that curse that follows Serbian rulers, not letting them die of natural causes?


We are a modern society today. History is after all, only history. The last time a European Prime Minister was assassinated in Sweden, but Sweden did not have the tragic experience of sanctions, isolation and bombing. We shall remember all those who lost their lives, but I can’t emphasize enough the need to look to the future, to turn to the need to go on with our lives. And that means democratic discipline and safety for all citizens. To be strong – emphasized Crown Prince Alexander II Karadjordjevic in his interview for “Puls Srba”.

NO SHORTCUTS FOR THE INVESTORS

I would like to remind the Diaspora that there are very important rules of how to invest: there are no shortcuts and no favors. One has to be a serious and not a weekend investor. I think the Government has put that clearly, having in its make up experts like Bozidar Djelic who is a partner in “McKenzie”, Goran Pitic, Aleksandar Vlahovic and the Governor Mladjan Dinkic.

They are very serious people. We should gather around them, too. Of course, the democratic process goes on and if in the future we have elections, the voters will decide. But this is our Government at the moment and we must support it.

US AND THE IRISH

An Irishman has recently visited me who told me – imagine what would happen if all the Irish who live outside Ireland had the right to be the members of the Irish Parliament.

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