January 06, 2004

ERP KiM Newsletter 06-01-04b
 

The latest "Christmas gift"
Orthodox church near Pristina desecrated

"The spectacle I found was horrible," the Pristina parish priest told the ERP KIM Info Service. "The vandals had scattered the holy chalice, the Holy Scriptures, the candle holders and icons on the floor of the church. After a detailed examination, I discovered that two silver candle holders were missing from the holy altar table, one icon lamp and all the money from sold candles and donations," said Fr. Miroslav.


Thousands of holy icons and books perished in Serbian Orthodox churches
desecrated by ethnic Albanian extremists in Kosovo since June 1999 (photo: ERPKiM)

CONTENTS:

Serbian Orthodox Church of Sts. Peter and Paul desecrated near Pristina
"The spectacle I found was horrible," the Pristina parish priest told the ERP KIM Info Service. "The vandals had scattered the holy chalice, the Holy Scriptures, the candle holders and icons on the floor of the church. After a detailed examination, I discovered that two silver candle holders were missing from the holy altar table, one icon lamp and all the money from sold candles and donations," said Fr. Miroslav

Insider opinion

Kosovo Standards and Not-so-hidden Aid Agenda, by Henry Braesal
From almost the first moment that UNMIK moved into Kosovo in June 1999, a process of "Kosovarisation" was set in place. One example was the sending home of non-Albanian employees of the electricity company KEK in June 1999 by KFOR with the promise that they could reapply for their jobs within three weeks. To date none has been reinstated. In addition, almost all non-Albanian, and in particular Serb staff, have been ejected from the hospitals, public services and from Pristina University, schools and colleges.

"Povratak" Coalition will demand explanation from Holkeri

The initial serious step by the POVRATAK coalition in response to the transfer of competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions must be the leaving of the Kosovo-Metohija Assembly, the president of the Serb Resistance Movement, Momcilo Trajkovic, assessed. On the eve of the New Year, Holkeri transferred almost all the competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions, save those reserved for him personally.

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http://www.kosovo.net/erpkiminfo.html


Serbian Orthodox church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Gornja Brnjica, near Pristina, desecrated

"The spectacle I found was horrible," the Pristina parish priest told the ERP KIM Info Service. "The vandals had scattered the holy chalice, the Holy Scriptures, the candle holders and icons on the floor of the church. After a detailed examination, I discovered that two silver candle holders were missing from the holy altar table, one icon lamp and all the money from sold candles and donations," said Fr. Miroslav

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ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, January 6, 2003

Pristina parish priest Fr. Miroslav Popadic informed the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija that during his visit on Monday to the village of Gornja Brnjica, five kilometers north of Pristina, he found that the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, built in 1975, had been desecrated.

"Unknown assailants probably tried to break down the metal doors which remained stuck so they then cut through three metal bars on the window, broke the window and entered the church," stated Fr. Miroslav. The priest and parishioners were consequently unable to enter the church through the door and immediately called members of the Kosovo Police Service, who checked the church to make sure it was not mined. Finally a Serb member of the KPS entered the church through the window and opened the door for the priest and the gathered villagers so they could inspect the church.

"The spectacle I found was horrible," the Pristina parish priest told the ERP KIM Info Service. "The vandals had scattered the holy chalice, the Holy Scriptures, the candle holders and icons on the floor of the church. After a detailed examination, I discovered that two silver candle holders were missing from the holy altar table, one icon lamp and all the money from sold candles and donations," said Fr. Miroslav.

Forty days ago unknown persons broke into the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul through the bell tower, climbing down the rope of the bell. On that occasion only the money was stolen but the objects within the church were not disturbed.

In the mixed village of Gornja Brnjica there is a total of 47 Serb families with 187 members. After June 1999 eight Serb families left their homes in the Albanian part of the village and for the past more than four years have been unable to return their homes for fear of attacks.

The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul is located at some distance from the village, in the woods next to the Orthodox cemetery. It is possible to get to the church completely unobserved from the direction of the neighboring Albanian village of Sinji Do, from where local residents believe the vandals probably came. The present-day church was built in 1975 on the ruins of the medieval Church of St. Nicholas, destroyed during the Turkish occupation.

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija most vehemently condemns this latest case of desecration of Orthodox holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija. Only a few days after an attempt by Pristina municipal authorities to usurp the church property on which the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Pristina has been built at the urging of the University of Pristina and the Kosovo Ministry of Education, a second "Christmas present" from Albanian extremists followed.

Although the police has launched an investigation in this most recent case of church desecration, it appears that this case of attack on the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church is as unlikely to be resolved as any of the others.

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Insider opinion

Kosovo Standards and Not-So-Hidden Aid Agenda

From almost the first moment that UNMIK moved into Kosovo in June 1999, a process of "Kosovarisation" was set in place. One example was the sending home of non-Albanian employees of the electricity company KEK in June 1999 by KFOR with the promise that they could reapply for their jobs within three weeks. To date none has been reinstated. In addition, almost all non-Albanian, and in particular Serb staff, have been ejected from the hospitals, public services and from Pristina University, schools and colleges.

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Letters

By Henry Braesal
(the following text is a contribution from one of our international readers in Kosovo who is employed in UNMIK)



Having visited Kosovo many times since the year 2000, I have often been struck by the disparity between what is said and what is done by those whose responsibility it is to administer the province in accordance with Resolution 1244. Most recently, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has put forward eight "standards" to be met in Kosovo's road to development and before its future status is finally determined.

The logical presumption is that the procedures to ensure that these standards are met, should be fair, transparent and equitable, along the lines of the best traditions of western democracy. However, the reality is very different. As regards the standard of good governance, the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and the local municipal structures have failed to exercise the powers devolved to them in a just, democratic fashion. Many of the elected representatives who now form the PISG and municipal structures not only have no experience in governance but were directly connected with the Kosovo Liberation Army responsible for expelling 270,000 persons in 1999 - 2000 and also for the continuing campaign of intimidation and violence against non-Albanian elements of Kosovo society.

Furthermore, the failure of the international community to facilitate the return of the non-Albanian communities who were expelled from Kosovo in the wake of the arrival of international peacekeeping troops KFOR (and the withdrawal of Serbian military and civil authorities), brings into question the true meaning of the standards being proposed. Many internationals who work in Kosovo that I have spoken to, are convinced that statements from both UNMIK and the PISG encouraging return are merely "tokenism", paying lipservice to the right of return for the sake of international acceptability but in reality covering up the deliberate and systematic obstruction of return to Kosovo by Serbs and other non-Albanians. In fact, returns is not a demand-driven process, as there is no free choice for the displaced to return in safety and dignity as there was for the Albanians in 1999. The Serbs and Roma who wish to return have to be vetted by a process at both municipal and UNMIK level which has nothing to do with choice or the internationally accepted right of return.

The proposed standard of the proper functioning of, and respect for, the rule of law is still far from established in Kosovo with the bulk of crimes, including murder, committed in Kosovo since June 1999 unsolved. For instance, no one has ever been charged with any of the 90 murders committed in Western Kosovo in 2001 alone. As regards dialogue with Belgrade no serious attempt has been made to initiate meaningful discussions with a view to normalising relations. The first meeting between Belgrade and Pristina in Vienna in October 2003 was in the opinion of most internationals I have spoken to, little more than a cosmetic exercise with no serious intent to tackle the most pressing issues; the fact that the Pristina PISG did not even attend demonstrated how important a priority it was for them.

From almost the first moment that UNMIK moved into Kosovo in June 1999, a process of "Kosovarisation" was set in place. One example was the sending home of non-Albanian employees of the electricity company KEK in June 1999 by KFOR with the promise that they could reapply for their jobs within three weeks. To date none has been reinstated. In addition, almost all non-Albanian, and in particular Serb staff, have been ejected from the hospitals, public services and from Pristina University, schools and colleges.

More sinister still are remarks reputedly made on several occasions in 2000 by the then head of EU Pillar II, part of the UNMIK administration, who stated in front of many witnesses that Serbian would never again be spoken in Kosovo. Effectively, "Kosovarisation" means "Albanisation" with all traces of non-Albanian presence in Kosovo eradicated.

As recently as October 2003, a leading official in the Housing and Property Directorate (HPD) admitted to me that in the absence of an effective system of law and order and where intolerance, terrorism and organised crime are the 'order of the day', the effect of HPD's decisions has been to ethnically cleanse Kosovo by economic means. In the experience of this official, Serbs and other non-Albanians who dealt with HPD stayed in Kosovo just long enough to sell their property and leave.

It must be kept in mind that since Kosovo came under UNMIK and KFOR administration over two thirds of the non-Albanian population has been expelled and 112 Serb Orthodox churches have been destroyed. Effectively, this means that 112 villages have ceased to exist, given the Orthodox Christian tradition of communities developing around the local ecclesiastical centre. The expulsion of the population is accompanied by the destruction of the church to eradicate all traces of their ever having been there and to discourage their return. This is not the "balance sheet" of a successful international intervention in the name of justice and democracy.

Now, Kosovo is to all intents and purposes a mono-ethnic, mono-cultural inward-looking society. The structures set in place by UNMIK have all but precluded the possibility of non-Albanians receiving anything approaching fair treatment. As part of the "Kosovarisation" process, aid to Kosovo was and is systematically and exclusively aimed at the ethnic Albanian population. The few 'crumbs' that have fallen to non-Albanian communities still resident in Kosovo are provided on condition that they form part of a multi-ethnic package which must involve the majority Albanian population. This leads to the impossible situation where to provide aid to Serb enclaves for instance, projects must also help the surrounding Albanian communities whereas aid to ethnic Albanians has never been tied to the conditionality of multi-ethnicity. More than one international has commented to me that the idea of 'multi-ethnicity' is now nothing more than a tool to stop minorities from receiving aid.

Today, according to cadastral records, 60 % of the arable land in Kosovo belongs to Serbs yet little or none of it can be accessed safely by them and much of it has been illegally occupied and built upon. In towns and cities, many Serb-owned properties have been illegally occupied or destroyed. To give but one example; German KFOR troops in Prizren have been occupying several Serb-owned properties for over four years now but they have refused to pay rent or offer any compensation to the rightful owners. It is now some four and a half years since UN Resolution 1244 was passed and UNMIK took over responsibility for running Kosovo. In this time Kosovo has become almost completely Albanised and the future of non-Albanian communities in the province remains bleak. In the face of all this, the so-called standards that the authorities in Kosovo claim to be working towards, are little more than empty words. Such empty words cannot hide the fact that the Kosovo established under the auspices of UNMIK and KFOR is an undemocratic, lawless society where organised crime and terrorism flourish and where not only the non-Albanian population but any traces of non-Albanian culture are critically endangered.

It is distressing to contemplate the human tragedy concerning the expulsion of 270,000 people from their homes but this is compounded by the self-congratulatory tone of statements from those encharged with the administration of Kosovo whose pronouncements bear little resemblance to the reality of the situation. Where else in the world would the destruction of a unique and irreplaceable cultural heritage go largely unnoticed by the western media and be ignored by the governing authorities? The Orthodox churches of Kosovo, many of which date back to medieval times, contained some of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture and Christian religious art. One might ask 'Why such a systematic effort not only to drive out the present Serb population of Kosovo but to destroy their churches?' Could it be that the existence of distinctly Serb Orthodox churches dating from as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries would prove awkward for exponents of the "Kosovarisation" process and the theory that Kosovo was originally Albanian?

The first 'Standard' one should adhere to is 'Truth', however truth in Kosovo, to paraphrase the well known words of US Senator Hiram Johnson (1917), has become the first casualty.


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"Povratak" will demand explanation from Holkeri

The initial serious step by the POVRATAK coalition in response to the transfer of competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions must be the leaving of the Kosovo-Metohija Assembly, the president of the Serb Resistance Movement, Momcilo Trajkovic, assessed. On the eve of the New Year, Holkeri transferred almost all the competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions, save those reserved for him personally.

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Radio Serbia-Montenegro
January 5, 2003


Kosovska Mitrovica, 05 Jan (Radio S-M) - A member of the Kosmet (Kosovo-Metohija) Assembly Presidency, Oliver Ivanovic, has announced that the Serb POVRATAK coalition will launch an initiative as of January 5 whereby it will demand of UNMIK Head Harri Holkeri to explain the meaning of his latest move by which he has transferred part of competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions.

Ivanovic assessed that at issue is Holkeri's concession to Kosmet Albanians who, as he said, have accepted international community standards, which they are unable to fulfill. The initial serious step by the POVRATAK coalition in response to the transfer of competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions must be the leaving of the Kosovo-Metohija Assembly, the president of the Serb Resistance Movement, Momcilo Trajkovic, assessed. On the eve of the New Year, Holkeri transferred almost all the competences from UNMIK to provisional Kosmet institutions, save those reserved for him personally.


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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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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 Orthodox Church

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