January 17, 2004
ERP KiM Newsletter 17-01-04
Uneasiness in Velika Hoca - German KFOR removed the checkpoint for the sake of "further normalization of the situation"
Serbs who work in the municipality still travel only with escort and the only two Serb members of KPS are not allowed to wear guns like their Albanian colleagues - Great concern for protection of valuable cultural heritage in Velika Hoca.
When KFOR representatives give briefings on the security situation in the Orahovac municipality they present it as stable and positive, which is used as a main argument for continuation of reduction of troops. But when Serbs, on the basis of this "security improvement" request a step forward in respect of their human rights, freedom of movement and return of refugees and monks to the neighboring village of Zociste, KFOR representatives are quite reserved and cannot give their guarantees. According to their security assessment the local Albanian population is still hostile towards Serbs and they say that they cannot provide safe return of refugees and monks to Zociste.
ERP KiM Info-service
Velika Hoca, January 17, 2004
(photo: residential quarters and the wine-house of Visoki Decani Monastery in Velika Hoca village (19 c) Monks have been producing wine here since 14th century)
On January 15, 2004 the German KFOR, as it had been previously announced, removed the fixed checkpoint from the entrance to Serbian village of Velika Hoca in order, as it was officially said, to proceed with "further normalization of the situation".
Dissatisfied with the KFOR decision and concerned for their security students in Velika Hoca did not attend the classes in the school, situated in the upper, Serbian quarter of Orahovac. Their school friends from the Serbian part of Orahovac demonstrated solidarity with them too.
The school manager with the teachers board had an urgent meeting. A local Serb representative from the Municipal Assembly was attending the meeting and it was requested from him to actively engage in finding the solution so that the work of the school can be resumed as soon as possible.
The Serbs say that the school bus which is bringing students form Velika Hoca is not secure enough after the removal of the checkpoint. Beside students, the bus is used by teachers and other staff and without proper security their going to work in upper part of Orahovac and Velika Hoca is hardly possible.
Since arrival of the KFOR to Kosovo this checkpoint provided security to local Serbs, particularly on their daily movement on the road between Upper Orahovac and Velika Hoca, the only road which connects two remaining enclaves in Orahovac municipality. Local Serbs claim that this road is of vital interest for them and therefore constantly represents a zone of higher security risk. From the checkpoint KFOR soldiers could not only control the road and the traffic but were also controlling the surrounding fields and vineyards and thus provided security for the Serb farmers who could normally cultivate their land.
(The famous Spasic home in
Velika Hoca (19th c) The most beautiful examples of the Serb village
architecture are preserved in this old Serb village)
Local Serbs claim that the German KFOR negatively reacted to many requests of Serbs from upper Orahovac to be granted security in using their old Orthodox cemetery after 5 years again. The cemetery is located in the lower, ethnic Albanian part of the town and is not accessible for Serbs who are forced to use the narrow area around the Orahovac Orthodox church. Two years ago, during one of the escorted visits to the cemetery the local priest Fr. Srdjan found that the cemetery was desecrated and sprayed with UCK graffiti. Despite constant requests the normal access to the cemetery has not been provided yet.
(Fr. Nektarije in front of
the ruins of SS. Cosma and Damian church in Zociste Monastery, near
Velika Hoca. KFOR is not ready to provide security for reconstruction of
this monastery due to opposition of the local Albanian population which
looted and burned the monastery led by the local UCK commanders. The
church was destroyed by explosives in summer 1999. On the walls of the
burned residential quarters of the monastery are still visible the UCK
graffiti. For this crime no one has been brought to justice jet and no
investigation has been carried at all.)
At the moment around 800 Serbs live in the Serbian quarter in Orahovac and Velika Hoca village. Due to the unstable security situation in the are the return of Serb refugees to the surrounding villages and farms as well as the reconstruction of the Zociste Monastery is still not possible.
Diocese of Raska and Prizren concerned
If, God forbid, Serbs are attacked by Albanian extremists after this latest KFOR decision I am afraid, KFOR and UNMIK will bear direct responsibility.
ERP KiM Info-service
Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren is also seriously concerned after
the latest decision of the German KFOR to remove the checkpoint at the
entrance to Velika Hoca village. "For years we have been requesting the
return of Serbs to the neighboring villages and the reconstruction of
the 14th century Zociste Monastery, but they constantly keep saying that
it is still not right time for this", says Bishop Artemije, adding that
it is incomprehensible that on one side local Serbs are left virtually
unprotected and on the others Kosovo Albanian nationalists are allowed
to pursue their policy of discrimination and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo
and Metohija, usually under the cover of so called democratic Kosovo
protection, preservation and revitalization of Velika Hoca - NGO
New NATO chief pledges
support on Kosovo visit
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: