January 07, 2004
ERP KiM Newsletter 07-01-04b
Christmas celebrated throughout Kosovo - Holkeri in Decani - Bus with Russian pilgrims stoned after Christmas service
The latest news, Beta, Radio B92, Jan 7
Bishop Artemije's Christmas message to the
faithful of Kosovo and Metohija
Holkeri extends Christmas greetings to Orthodox
believers in Kosovo
Celebration of Christmas in Kosovo and Metohija -
Harri Holkeri in Decani Monastery
Republic of Albania hoisted in the center of Decani just before
Promotion of Kosovo Repatriation - an appeal
without appeal yet
This newsletter is available on our ERP
"A day of peace - The birth of Christ!" How unrealistic it sounds in today's world when there are wars and killing in every corner of the planet, when horrible explosions each day in global metropolises take their toll of innocent victims, when peoples kill each other without mercy, when brothers work to crush each other.."
"A day of peace - The birth of Christ!" How unrealistic it sounds in today's world when there are wars and killing in every corner of the planet, when horrible explosions each day in global metropolises take their toll of innocent victims, when peoples kill each other without mercy, when brothers work to crush each other...
"We, the Orthodox
Serbs still living and surviving in Kosovo and Metohija, and our brothers
who five years ago were forced to leave their centuries-old homes,
properties, holy shrines, the graves of their dearest ones are especially
aware of this feeling of the absence of peace," said Bishop Artemije
(Radosavljevic) of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija in his Christmas
message to the faithful in Kosovo and Metohija. At the same time, the
Bishop reminded that "Christ by his birth began to distribute the water of
life and calls us to salvation toward which we should advance with faith,
hope and love."
Holkeri extends Christmas greetings to Orthodox believers in Kosovo
PRISTINA, January 6, 2004 (Beta) -
UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri extends his warmest Christmas greetings today to
all Orthodox Christians in Kosovo.
"UNMIK is aware that Orthodox Christians are still living in unacceptable conditions... All of us, however, have reached a consensus according to which, in order for Kosovo to become the comfortable home of the majority living in it, it must first become the safe home of all of its peoples," Holkeri said in a statement.
The UNMIK chief welcomed the courage shown during the past years by many Orthodox Christians and called on them to honor the spirit of Christmas by recognizing the new hopes that have taken root.
In order for hope to hope to
be sustained and to grow it is necessary for all Kosovo peoples to
participate in its encouragement, including Orthodox
Celebration of Christmas in Kosovo and Metohija - Harri Holkeri in
Decani and Pec Patriarchate
ERP KIM Info
Formal Christmas Liturgy was served today in all monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metohija. The atmosphere was especially joyous in the Pec Patriarchate, where His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Pavle served in the presence of the faithful who were accompanied by military escorts from nearby enclaves, as well as in Gracanica where Holy Liturgy was served by Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren.
The religious holiday of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ was especially solemnly celebrated in Visoki Decani Monastery. Holy Liturgy was served by Abbot Teodosije and the hieromonks of Decani Monastery. Over one hundred eminent international figures and believers took part in Holy Liturgy and a formal Christmas luncheon. Among the officials who visited Decani today were the chief of UNMIK, Mr. Harri Holkeri, and his closest associates, as well as representatives of diplomatic missions (the U.S. and Great Britain. The Christmas celebration was also attended by the commander of KFOR Multinational Brigade Southwest, Italian general Alberto Primiceri with his officers.
Bringing special joy to the Christmas ceremony was the presence of Russian pilgrims headed by Senator Sergei Shebligyn and Aleksandar Melnik, the director of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called. The pilgrims visited many Serb enclaves throughout Kosovo and Metohija as part of a tour organized the Russian-Serbian Friendship Society with Serbian theatre actress Ivana Zigon before coming to Decani. They were accompanied by a large group of Russian journalists who wanted to see for themselves the situation in the southern Serbian province. Gifts were exchanged during the luncheon, and Svetlana Stevic, a vocalist specialized in old Serbian music, sang a song originating in Kosovo and Metohija. The luncheon in the great hall concluded with Ivana Zigon's recital of the poem "Gracanica" by Desanka Maksimovic.
Abbot Teodosije welcomed the eminent guests, especially the chief of UNMIK, Mr. Harri Holkeri, and thanked them for their consideration and visit. He expressed special gratitude to the Italian KFOR troops who have protected Decani Monastery for more than four years. "The Monastery has always been a place that brings people together and we are happy that today, on this holiday of peace, the joy of Christmas is shared with us by people from different parts of the world who can learn about Orthodox tradition and customs," said Fr. Teodosije.
Addressing the gathering Mr. Holkeri praised Orthodox Christians in the province for their courage and perseverance, adding that the UN mission was aware that the conditions under which many Kosovo residents live are still unacceptable. "We have reached the consensus that, in order for Kosovo to be a comfortable home for the majority of its population it must become a safe and dignified home for all people," said the governor. He especially praised the example of Visoki Decani Monastery which during the war "not only by words but also by actions" demonstrated its solidarity with all the victims of war. He thanked Jelena Zigon who, on behalf of everyone present, gave him a medal with the image of the White Angel and a book on the suffering of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija in honor of his birthday yesterday.
(photo Fonet: After Christmas service in Decani, Holkeri visited Patriarch Pavle in Pec Patrarchate Monastery and wished a merry Christmas to him)
After the formal luncheon a one hour-long meeting with Mr. Holkeri took place in the monastery library. Abbot Teodosije and Fr. Sava acquainted Mr. Holkeri with the problems confronting Decani Monastery and the Serbian people in this part of the Province. They expressed their great concern regarding the most recent attempt to usurp the Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina and the hoisting of a large flag of the Republic of Albania at the main intersection in Decani on the very eve of Christmas. Fr. Sava emphasized that unfortunately, the transfer of competencies to provisional institutions is being misused against the Serbian community and that instead of a multiethnic society, what is being built in the Province is an ethnically pure Albanian society where the Serbs are hard pressed to see a place and opportunity for themselves.
"Although we are ready to cooperate with local Albanian authorities, we expect them to also accept us as we are, with our own culture, religion and language," said Abbot Teodosije. He pointed out that Christmas especially is a holiday of peace and God's love which should bring together all people of good will, expressing the hope that in the new year of 2004, processes of mutual reconciliation and especially the return of displaced persons will be intensified, and that UNMIK and KFOR will give their full support to achieve this. Abbot Teodosije also emphasized the need for protection of Serbian patrimonial sites which must be placed under special protection.
Mr. Holkeri expressed the hope that the implementation of the "Standards of Kosovo" will result in society's turning toward the future and called on the Serbian Orthodox Church to encourage participation by Serb representatives in public institutions.
After visiting Visoki Decani Monastery, Mr. Holkeri visited the municipality of Decani and spoke with Decani mayor Mr. Ibrahim Selmonaj and his associates. Before leaving Decani Mr. Holkeri and Ibrahim Selmonaj visited the mosque in Decani town and met the local imam Mulla Hysni Hoxha.
Around 13.00 Mr. Holkeri visited His Holiness Patriarch Pavle at the Monastery of the Pec Patriarchate and personally extend his Christmas greetings to the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Celebration of Christmas in Serbian, Russian and Jerusalem Patriarchates
UPI: Russian Aid Workers stoned in Kosovo
throw stones at RF delegation in Kosovo
A bus transporting some 40 Russian pilgrims, members of the humanitarian Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, and representatives of the Russian media who attended the Christmas celebration at Visoki Decani Monastery along with UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri were stoned by a group of about 30 Kosovo Albanians in the very center of the town of Decani despite the fact that the bus was under the protection of UNMIK police.
Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija most strongly condemns an
incident that occurred today after Christmas Liturgy at Visoki Decani
The group of Russian humanitarians and journalists, headed by Senator Sergei Shebligyn and Aleksandar Melnik, the director of the Foundation, have been visiting Serb enclaves throughout Kosovo and Metohija since January 4 to learn more about the life of the Serb community. News regarding the attack on the Russian delegation in Decani has been reported by the Russian Information Agency (RIA).
recent incident shows the true situation in this part of Kosovo and
Metohija, which is ruled by violence and ethnic terror primarily directed
against everything Serbian and Orthodox. Ironically, at the time of the
attack UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri was in the Decani municipal assembly
building only a few hundred meters away. After meeting with Decani mayor
Ibrahim Selmonaj, Mr. Holkeri visited the new Decani mosque being financed
by the Kingdom of Brunei.
Celebration of Christmas Eve in Gracanica
BETA, ERP KIM Info
On Christmas Day Bishop Artemije will serve Holy Archierchal Liturgy and celebrate the Nativity of Christ the Lord in the church of Gracanica Monastery.
Celebration of Christmas Eve in Gorazdevac
Christmas eve was solemnly celebrated in
of Republic of Albania hoisted in center of Decani on the eve of
Orthodox Christmas holiday
ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, January 7, 2004
(the flag of Republic of Albania in the centre of Decani. A bus with Russian pilgrims was stoned at this location after the Christmas service at Decani Monastery)
On the eve of the Orthodox Christian celebration in Decani which was attended by a large international delegation headed by UNMIK's chief Mr. Harri Holkeri and representatives of the Quint offices in Pristina a flagpole with a large flag of the Republic of Albania was hoisted in the center of Decani town despite a ban by the local UNMIK chief Mr. Luis Perez and the regional UNMIK representative in Prizren Mr. Graham Williams. Another flag of the neighboring state of Albania stands on the top of the apartment building which can be seen on the left.
Representatives of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren issued a protest today against this most recent act of provocation. Even though there is not even a church flag, let alone the flag of the Republic of Serbia or Serbia-Montenegro, flying on any Serbian church in order to avoid provoking the Albanian population, on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas holiday at an intersection in Decani where there is already has a monument to so called KLA "heroes", the flag of a foreign country is being flown contrary to all UNMIK regulations regarding the use of official symbols.
During today's visit to Decani, Mr. Holkeri and UNMIK representatives could see first hand what kind of society is being built in this part of Kosovo and Metohija, especially keeping in mind that there has not been a single Serb returnee to the municipality of Decani in more than four years.
returns office of the UN mission in Kosovo has invited officials in the
province to attend a promotion of refugee repatriations in the Klina
region. Sources quoted by Pristina daily Zeri say that Hicks has
contacted senior officials of the Kosovo government to the promotion,
but that none have replied.
"Such forms of harassment and abuse of the Serbian people, in this instance, of the Serbian Orthodox Church, are just one in a series of clear indicators that provisional institutions in Kosovo on the basis of their behavior are not only too immature for transfer of competencies but are consciously taking advantage of the existing administration to drive the southern Serbian province into further legal chaos and an even worse rule of terror and ethnic discrimination," wrote Bishop Artemije in an letter to UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri protesting the prevention of the arrival of a shipment of humanitarian assistance in the form of heating oil to the Serbian Orthodox Church from the Serbian oil company Jugopetrol
ERP KIM Info
"In the offices of a provisional international institution, a portrait of some member of the KLA hung visibly on the wall and official correspondence with an UNMIK institution in the Serbian language was not accepted until it was submitted in Albanian," Bishop Artemije went on to note.
Elaborating on the forms of harassment, Bishop Artemije cites instructions that the NGO must pay an excise tax "in the amount of 110 percent of the total nominal value of the assistance without any legal basis", as well as the request of the UNMIK administrative official for the NGO to submit a request in writing for a waiver of the excise tax to be resolved "within a period of ten days, even though the tanker trucks were waiting in the terminal".
Bishop Artemije assessed that "such forms of harassment and abuse of the Serbian people, in this instance, of the Serbian Orthodox Church, are just one in a series of clear indicators that provisional institutions in Kosovo on the basis of their behavior are not only too immature for transfer of competencies but are consciously taking advantage of the existing administration to drive the southern Serbian province into further legal chaos and an even worse rule of terror and ethnic discrimination".
At the conclusion of the letter, Bishop Artemije expressed the hope that Holkeri "would use his power and authority to contribute to removal of similar forms of violation of human rights and abuse of the Serbian people".
Preventing the arrival of a shipment of humanitarian assistance in the form of heating oil for the use of Gracanica Monastery is only one of a series of Albanian provocation on the eve of the Christmas holidays. On December 30, 2003 the Municipal Assembly of Pristina passed an illegal decision to usurp church property and the Church of Christ the Savior on it, located in the center of Pristina. Yesterday Pristina parish priest Father Miroslav Popadic informed the Diocese of the desecration of the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Gornja Brnjica near Pristina. The most recent incident involving abuse by Kosovo customs officials behaving as if they were officials of an independent state of Kosovo or a Greater Albania has seriously upset the Serbian Orthodox Church and confirmed that the "Standards for Kosovo" are just another smokescreen for tragic Kosovo reality.
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
Additional information on
our Diocese and the life of the Kosovo Serb Community may be found at: