NEWSLETTER No 20

ABBOT TEODOSIJE OF DECANI: PROTECTION OF MONASTERY IS OUR PRIORITY TASK
Decani brotherhood wholeheartedly welcomes UNESCO initiative to include the monastery on world cultural heritage list

ERPKIM Info-service
March 19, 2003, 15.00 CET

(photo by Decani Mon.: Fr. Teodosije Sibalic - Decani Monastery Abbot)

DECANI - "The Decani brotherhood wholeheartedly welcomes the UNESCO intent to include the monastery on the world cultural heritage list," said the Abbot of Visoki Decani Monastery, Father Teodosije Sibalic (39), who has headed this young brotherhood ever since 1992, "because this will provide additional protection for the monastery from the pressures to which it has been exposed in the last four years.

"Visoki Decani Monastery today lives in complete isolation and the task of its monks is to do everything within our power to protect this holy shrine in these troubled times. This is perhaps one of the most difficult moments in the history of the monastery and we feel a special responsibility before God and our Church, together with our spiritual father Bishop Artemije who has invested tremendous efforts to preserve the holy shrines and congregation here. Despite everything, we place our hope in God and his chosen one, the Holy King Stefan of Decani, who have gathered over 30 young monks and novices in this monastery, all firmly determined to stay and survive in this holy location and to bear witness in faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ," said the Abbot of Decani.

"For the past four years the monastery has survived as secluded island surrounded by a sea of misunderstanding. Even though we continue to travel outside the monastery exclusively with the escort of Italian KFOR troops, our vehicles are frequently stoned. The monastery therefore still needs the strong presence of KFOR whose troops are lodged in the base immediately above the monastery complex and which allow the normal life of the brotherhood and safe cultivation of the land.

"We are especially pleased by the initiative of eminent Italian senators and humanists who in recent weeks have sought that their government continue to protect the monastery and that the announced withdrawal of KFOR does not occur.

"The decision of UNESCO to include our monastery on the world cultural heritage list will be very significant because it will draw the attention of the global community to this holy shrine and, in general, to the fate of our churches and monasteries, especially in Metohija. We also hope that the UNESCO decision will define a protected zone around the monastery prohibiting industrial production, pollution of the environment and tourism, all of which pose a threat to the life of the monastery. It is our hope to be able to preserve the tranquility and beauty of the valley where the monastery is located," said Abbot Teodosije.

"We are especially grateful to Professor Branislav Krstic and his associates from the Coordinating Center, as well as to the experts from the Serbian Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in Belgrade who were extremely professional in preparing thorough documentation not only on our monastery but on all endangered Serbian Orthodox holy shrines in Kosovo and Metohija, and sharing it with UNESCO."

HIEROMONK GERMAN: 120 ORTHODOX CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA DAMAGED OR DESTROYED
Abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery on UNESCO visit

BETA News Agency
March 18, 2003

(Photo by Visoki Decani Monastery: Abbot German, Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren)

PRIZREN, March 18, 2003 (Beta) - During its seven day-long mission to Kosovo, the delegation of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also visited the Prizren region where it visited the religious edifices of all three local faiths. The members of the delegation visited the Mother of God Ljeviska Monastery, the seat of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and Holy Archangels Monastery, the Sinan Pasha mosque and hammam, as well as the Catholic church where they met with Bishop Marko Sopi.

The Abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery near Prizren, Hieromonk German, stated that this was the second UNESCO delegation to visit them. He expressed dissatisfaction with the report of the first delegation, headed by professor Karl Blasi, which visited Kosovo in May 2001, because it failed to mention the damaged and destroyed churches and monasteries of Kosovo.

"Not one of the 120 destroyed and damaged churches and monasteries in Kosovo was mentioned. It was very strange and there was much speculation regarding the composition of the mission and its intentions," said the Abbot. Hieromonk German expressed the hope that the new mission, which completed its visit to Kosovo today, would prepare a more objective report and contribute to the protection of the Serb cultural heritage in Kosovo. "In these three and a half years (since the end of the war and the arrival of the international administration), Kosovo has become the graveyard of cultural heritage, especially of churches and monasteries," said the Abbot of Holy Archangels.

"That which has been destroyed awaits restoration; what has not been destroyed awaits someone to protect it. We are not in a position to professionally guard all our holy shrines, which are priceless. They need an expert hand but it is still missing," he said.

(Photo by Holy Archangels: Prizren church of  St. Savior, 14th century, surrounded by barbed wire, 2002)

In Prizren, according to the Abbot, there are 37 Serb cultural and historical monuments classified in the first [most important], second and third categories. "In the Prizren region we have 37 Serb historical cultural monuments. Of these, five belong to the first category and 13 to the second category. St. Nicholas Church, better known as Rajko's Church, a monument of the second category, was burned down in 1999. Since then nothing has been done to restore it," said the hieromonk.

"Other sites, such as our Mother of God Ljeviska Monastery, the Church of St. Spas, Holy Peter Koriski Monastery, Kalaja Fortress - all monuments of the first category - have lacked technical expertise this entire time. This is a great loss not only to the Serbs but to others, too, because this is also a part of the European cultural heritage," he said.

Abbot German claims that in the German zone of responsibility there are 30 destroyed, desecrated, burned down and looted churches and monasteries. "This clearly bears witness not only to the presence of the Serbs in this region throughout history but also to the attitude of the Kosovo Albanians and the international community in the past three and a half years. All of this happened after the war, that is, in peace," he said.

UNESCO DELEGATION TO KOSOVO AND METOHIJA CONTINUED TOUR OF CULTURAL MONUMENTS AND RELIGIOUS SITES
UNESCO experts visited several most important medieval Serbian Orthodox Holy Sites destroyed by Kosovo Albanian Extremists in the period under UN rule

ERP KIM Info-Service
March 17, 2003


(Photo: UNESCO experts at ruins of 14th century St. George Church in Recani near Suva Reka. In the foreground, destroyed Serb graves. The church was levelled to the ground by Albanian extremists in summer 1999. Click on photo for larger format.)


On Sunday, March 16, the UNESCO expert delegation headed by Mr. Horst Goedicke visited religious, cultural and historical monuments in Pec and Klina municipalities. Accompanied by monks from Visoki Decani Monastery, the UNESCO high delegation first visited the ruins of the Most Holy Mother of God Monastery in Dolac near Klina, dating back to the 14th century, blown up by Albanian extremists two months after the arrival of KFOR and the UN mission, in August 1999. Lost among the ruins of Dolac Monastery are valuable frescoes dating back to the 16th century which managed to survive for over 400 years. Near the monastery itself are also the ruins of the Serb village of Dolac which was burned down and destroyed at the same time as the monastery, despite strong presence of international peacekeepers in the area.

After visiting the estate (metoh) of the Pec Patriarchate in Budisavci, where the valuable medieval Church of Divine Transfiguration dating back to the 14th century has been preserved thanks to KFOR, the UNESCO delegation continued on to Djurakovac and the ruins of the Orthodox St. Nicholas Church, dating back to 1592. This church formerly contained valuable frescoes from the 16th century now completely destroyed together with the surrounding Serb cemetery, where the oldest grave marker dates back to 1362.

The UNESCO delegation then visited the Monastery of the Pec Patriarchate (13-14th century) - the jewel of Serb medieval architecture and fresco painting in this region. In the center of the city the UNESCO experts visited three mosques from the Ottoman period which suffered damage during the war of 1999: the Red, Barjakli and Kursumli mosques. The tour of the Pec area concluded with a visit to the oldest Serb log church, that of St. Jeremiah built in 1737 in the nearby village of Gorazdevac, the only Serb village in Pec municipality still inhabited by Serbs who live under constant KFOR military protection.

(photo: UNESCO Delegation in Decani Monastery library. In the name of Abbot Teodosije the expets were received by Fr. Sava Janjic, his deputy)

The day before, on March 15 (Sunday), the UNESCO delegation visited Visoki Decani Monastery and talked to Fr. Sava, deputy abbot, who in the name of Abbot Fr. Teodosije briefed the mission about the campaign of destruction and terror against Serbian Christian sites under the UN rule in Kosovo. 'The monastery is greeting the intention of UNESCO to proclaim Decani Monastery a World heritage site', Fr. Sava explained adding that 'this would make clear to enemies of culture and civilization that peace cannot be built on ruins of medieval Christian sites'. Fr. Sava expressed his satisfaction that UNESCO experts finally may see themselves what was happening in Kosovo and Metohija after the UN peacekeeping mission began in June 1999. 'Regrettably, Kosovo Albanian leaders not only deny destruction of medieval Christian holy sites, but spread propaganda that only, what they call 'political churches' were destroyed, justifying crime and encouraging further acts of barbarism'. 'Leaders who shamesly turn blind eye towards destruction of Christian and European cultural heritage in the territory in which they live demonstrate a frighthening lack of basic political responsibility and culture', said Fr. Sava to UNESCO experts. 'It is impossible to understand that despite 40.000 NATO led troops and thousands of policemen not a single perpertrator of these barbarous acts has been brought to justice so far', Fr. Sava concluded.

After touring the damaged mosques in Decani and Djakovica, as well as the old city complex in Djakovica, all of which sustained damage in the war of 1999, the UNESCO experts visited the ruins of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Cosmas and Damian in the village of Zociste near Orahovac which was destroyed by KLA extremists in summer 1999. Sunday program for the UNESCO mission concluded with a village to the Serb town of Velika Hoca with its famous 11 medieval Orthodox churches. Last year, Bishop Artemije's initiative to reconstruct Zociste Monastery was refused by KFOR due to opposition of the local Moslem Albanian population.

Today the expert delegation of UNESCO visited several cultural and religious sites in Vucitrn and Mitrovica area, including the old ruins of the famous 14th century Serbian Orthodox Monastery of st. Stephen at Banjska where the mission members met again with Bishop Artemije who briefed them about the plans of the Serbian Government to commence reconstruction of this famous historical and cultural Serbian site. The visit of the UNESCO expert mission to Kosovo and Metohija is expected to finish tomorrow (March 18). The next day members of the Delegation will go to Belgrade to have the final meetings with the representatives of the Coordination Center of the Serbian Government (CCK).

Photos: (Click on each small photo to view it in resolution of 1000x750 pixels)

LOCATIONS VISITED BY UNESCO EXPERTS TEAM (photographs by ERP KIM Info-Service)

1

2

3


4


5


6

1. At the ruins of St. George Church in the village of Recane near Suva Reka, 14th century (1370)
2. Ruins of the Mother of God - Hodegitria- Church in the village of Musutiste near Suva Reka, 14th century (1315)
3. Ruins of the St. Nicholas Church in Djurakovac, 16th century (1592)
4. Ruins of the Most Holy Mother of God Monastery in Dolac, 14th century
5. UNESCO team of experts in front of Visoki Decani Monastery with Fr. Sava
6. Desecrated grave at Orthodox cemetery in Djurakovac, near the old church (n. 3)

ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS DID NOT SPARE EVEN THE GRAVES OF CHILDREN
In destroyed and desolate Serbian Orthodox cemetery in Djurakovac Albanians did not spare even the grave of two year-old Stefan Kozic

ERP KIM Info Service
March 16, 2003

(Photo: Grave of two year-old Stefan Kozic of Djurakovac. Photo by Visoki Decani Monastery. Click on photo to view it in resolution of 1000x750 pixels)


Surrounding the medieval Djurakovac St. Nicholas Church, which Kosovo Albanian extremists blew up in the summer of 1999, there is an old Serbian Orthodox cemetery, and around it are newer graves of Djurakovac Serbs. Since the summer of 1999 the local Albanians have turned this cemetery into a wasteland where not one grave remains intact. All crosses have been broken or scratched out on the grave markers.

What is more, the destroyers did not spare even the graves of children. During the visit of the UNESCO delegation to this location and inspection of the ruins of St. Nicholas, the photographer recorded the image of the destroyed grave of little Stefan Kozic, a two year-old child whose smiling image is still preserved on the toppled black marble plate of his destroyed grave.

Today's vandals cannot harm the deceased. They can only hurt their families and, most of all, harm themselves and their people, among whom no one in the past four years has raised his voice against the barbaric destruction of churches and cemeteries. This civilizational abyss and horrifying moral degradation among the Kosovo Albanian people in Kosovo and Metohija will without doubt remain the greatest stain of the post-war period in the Province before which numerous international visitors remain speechless and shocked.


BISHOP ARTEMIJE RECEIVED UNESCO EXPERTS MISSION TO KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
UNESCO delegation finally arrives to Kosovo and Metohija in order to get the first hand information on the cultural heritage

ERP KIM Info-service
Gracanica, March 13, 2003

(photo: Bishop Artemije with Horst Goedicke, head of the UNESCO Experts Mission to Kosovo)

Bishop Artemije today received in Gracanica Monasery members of the UNESCO expert delegation presently visiting Kosovo and Metohija in order to gain first-hand information about the cultural and historical heritage of the Province, especially regarding cultural monuments destroyed or damaged during and after the conflict.

The delegation is headed by Horst GOEDICKE, the chairman of the UNESCO Inter-Sectoral Working Group on South-East Europe (Germany). Other members of the delegation are Saleh LAMEI, director general of the Centre for Conservation and Preservation of Islamic Architectural Heritage in Cairo (Egypt); Prof. Slobodan CURCIC, professor of Byzantine art and archeology at Princeton University (U.S.); Chistof MACHAT, chairman of the International Committee on Vernacular Architecture of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (Germany); Emir RIZA, representative of the Albanian Institute for the Protection of Monuments (Albania); and Benght O.H. JOHANSONN, honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Art (Sweden).

Bishop Artemije informed the members of the UNESCO expert delegation of the fate of more than 110 destroyed or damaged Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija. He emphasized that Kosovo Albanian extremists destroyed these valuable monuments and places of worship after the war despite the presence of UN mission and KFOR. The Bishop expressed his wish that the visit of the UNESCO delegation would contribute to the protection and preservation of the remaining religious and cultural monuments in Kosovo and Metohija. "It is discouraging that so far not one perpetrator of these barbarous attacks has been arrested and brought to justice. Such failure of the part of the police encourages further attacks," said Bishop Artemije.

Unfortunately, Kosovo Albanian leaders have not only failed to take any measures to restrain Albanian population from such uncivilized acts but even try to justify attacks on churches, propagating a false and dangerous theory that only new, so-called "political churches" were destroyed. Bishop Artemije has many times criticized this outrageous theory and accused Kosovo Albanian leaders of encouraging the destruction of Christian shrines. According to documentation gathered by the Church, the majority of destroyed and damaged churches are at least one hundred years old, and many of them date back to the Middle Ages.

Mr. Goedicke explained that the purpose of the delegation's visit was to prepare the ground for decisions to be made by UNESCO in order toprotect the cultural heritage in Kosovo. He informed Bishop Artemije that a Serbian delegation headed by Prof. Krstic had visited UNESCO two days before their arrival and submitted a detailed study on the present condition of the cultural heritage in the Province. Another study was prepared and submitted to UNESCO by Mnemosyne, a Belgrade NGO for protection and preservation of cultural heritage. Mr. Goedicke indicated that several countries have already expressed interest in investing in UNESCO projects in Kosovo. Among other countries, he noted these are Italy, Greece, Austria and Russia.

After a visit to the Gracanica Monastery church, the head of the UNESCO delegation gave a statement to local Radio Gracanica. When asked whether there are any concrete projects prepared by UNESCO for this year, Mr. Goedecke answered that Visoki Decani Monastery is scheduled to be placed under the special protection of UNESCO as early as this year. This would contriubte to better protection of the monastery, explained Mr. Goedecke. Other projects will be prepared after the visit of the UNESCO expert delegation.

In addition to Gracanica Monastery, the UNESCO team visited several locations in the Pristina area today, including several mosques from the Ottoman period in the city of Pristina, the Jewish cemetery, the old Hammam, the Ethnological Park, the Ulpiana Iustiniana Secunda archeological site and the town of Novo Brdo.

In the next few days the UNESCO expert delegation will visit dozens of other cultural and religious sites throughout the Province. On Monday, March 18, the delegation will travel to Belgrade to meet with represenatives of the Coordinating Center and to hold a final press conference.

Unique world art treasury surrounded by intolerance and vandalism of Kosovo Albanians
(left: Decani Monastery, right: Patriarchate of Pec Monastery, 13-14 c)

MASSIMO CACCIARI: THEY ARE ABOUT TO DESTROY JEWELS

Renowned Italian philosopher, art-historian and the ex-mayor of Venice, MASSIMO CACCIARI stood in defence of the Serb Orthodox churches in Kosovo and Metohija.

His interview was published by La Nuova di Venezia and La Tribuna di Treviso on March 4, 2003 and can be found in Italian original on the following Web addresses:

http://www.nuovavenezia.quotidianiespresso.it/nuovavenezia/arch_04/venezia/idee/vt101.htm
http://www.tribunatreviso.quotidianiespresso.it/tribunatreviso/arch_04/treviso/idee/vt101.htm

(extracts in English)

Italian contingent is about to be relocated. Moslems can blow up the works of art of uncomparable value. Appeal by Cacciari.

THEY ARE ABOUT TO DESTROY JEWELS
Our soldiers must defend beautiful churches of Kosovo.
Warning of a philosopher: "They are like San Marco. They enshrine the highest values of the Byzantine art. If we let them suffer their fate, we have to be shot.

by Renzo Mazzaro

(foto: Massimo Cacciari, ex-mayor of Venice and the EU parlamentarian)

Massimo Cacciari
After ethnic cleansing comes a thorough cleansing of memory, destruction of relicts, persecution of symbols, first of all those which are the strongest: churches, moansteries, monuments of the Eastern Christianity. There comes desolation in order to prevent any return of Serbs. That is how Moslem Albanian extremists think, who dream of Greater ethnic albania, just as Milosevic used to dream about Greater Serbia.

The war was finished in 1999. but Kosovo, an autonomous region within Serb-Montenegrin federation, remains a powder keg, expecting to become an independent state one day. A moderate party of President Ibrahim Rugova is pressed by terrorist assassinations itself - among 28 people killed in the last months, 20 were his associates. Also, 122 Orthodox churches were blown before eyes of KFOR, international peacekeepers. Artistic heritage of world renown is before destruction because of "indiference of Kosovo's liberators", reveals Massimo Cacciari, former mayor of Venice.....

(...)

"I want to say that if within operations Italy has to perform we do not protect the heritage of this kind which is uncomparable in the world, we'll become accomplices in its destruction. We'll have to be shot. I cannot find other words - we have to be shot. Are we not the liberators who came to bring peace, who prefer civilization to barbarism?

(...)

"Until we are completely sure that no one can endanger these churches, we must not remove the military protection. This cultural heritage is unique and there are no similar examples. I repeat, it is like San Marco (in Venice). There are no similar churches in Europe, not beause San Marco is the most beautiful but because such artistic expression does not exist anywhere else. Regrettably, no one seems to be speaking about this now..." (the integral text is available in Italian)

TASK FORCE SAURO REMAINS NEAR DECANI MONASTERY


Soldiers of the Italian KFOR - Task Force SAURO near Decani Monastery
General Mini, KFOR Commander, decided not to relocate the peacekeepers
which provide security for Decani Monastery

GENERAL FABIO MINI CONFIRMS THAT ITALIAN FORCES NEAR DECANI WILL REMAIN STATIONED IN BASE ABOVE THE MONASTERY
Gen. Mini confirmed that Task Force SAURO protecting Decani Monastery will not be dislocated

ERPKIM Info-service
Gracanica, March 3 2003.

The commander of KFOR , Italian general Fabio Mini, during a visit to Visoki Decani Monastery yesterday confirmed to the monastery brethren that the Task Force SAURO protecting Decani Monastery will not be dislocated, as originally planned during the mandate of his predecessor, French general Marcel Valentin. "The Task Force SAURO will not leave during my mandate," said General Mini.

The firm determination to continue actively protecting Decani Monastery and other patrimonial sites in the region was also expressed by the commander of Multinational Brigade South-East based in Prizren, German general Markus Bentler, who visited Decani Monastery on Saturday together with the German Army Chief of Staff.

Protection of cultural and historic monuments remains our priority, emphasized the senior KFOR representatives.

ITALIAN SENATOR APPEALS TO DEFENSE MINISTRY FOR ITALIAN KFOR TROOPS TO REMAIN STATIONED NEAR DECANI MONASTERY
Senator Spena: At stake is the future of this region, whose suffering is partially our responsibility; at stake are the values of multiethnicity and religious tolerance

ERP KIM Info-Service
March 3, 2003

The Italian daily "Il Manifesto" on page four of today's edition publishes in full the letter of Italian senator Giovanni Russo Spena, deputy from Palermo in Sicily, who publicly addresses the deputy defense secretary , Giovanni Berselli, who is scheduled to arrive in Kosovo and Metohija tomorrow to participate in a KFOR military parade at Pristina Airport.

In his letter Senator Spena writes to Berselli that these days "more and more people are racing to go to Kosovo, maybe due to the veil of silence surrounding the tragedy of the new ethnic cleansing which has taken place during the three-year post-war period". Senator Spena suggests to the deputy defense secretary "that it would be better to peer behind the barbed wire and take a little trip to Decani to see the 'real' Kosovo, not only the official version described at much length".

"The Italian troops do not want to leave the monastery, even though (Berselli) mentioned only one company which will continue to carry out its responsibilities in protecting the monastery," the letter goes on to say. "However, even those of us who know little about military matters, know that a regiment such as the SAURO Combat Group, which has been stationed there for the past three years, is comprised of several companies. What will become of the rest of them? Will they remain in Decani or, as the magazine '30 Giorni' wrote, will they be transferred to the new military base 'Camp Italia', while the hilltop near the monastery be left to numerous evil-doers who have already destroyed a considerable part of the Serb cultural heritage"" asks the renowned senator.

"And will this company for the protection of the monastery remain in Decani or will it, more likely, travel there from Pec in order to protect in shifts a symbolic and completely inadequate checkpoint? And who is going to protect the thousands and thousands of Serb returnees in the Decani region who, sooner or later, must return as the UN has promised? There are too many questions which make the departure of our troops from Decani simply unimaginable, especially after the damage caused by 'humanitarian war'," warns Senator Spena in his letter to the deputy secretary of the Italian defense ministry.

"The defense ministry, which is on the verge of a new war, must offer further explanation, and we hope that Berselli will see this with his own eyes because the last time he was there was a year ago, when some monasteries existed that are no longer there," the letter goes on to say.

"This is not a biased battle. At state is the future of this region, whose suffering is partially our responsibility; at stake are the values of multiethnicity and religious tolerance. We are expecting clear answers because during the past three years more than 100 Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed, there are thousands of victims of new ethnic terror, and all in locations protected by forces of KFOR and the NATO alliance, which are present there in accordance with the peace agreement. After the parade, Berselli will have to think about serious matters," concludes Senator Spena at the end of his letter.




SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHAPEL NEAR ZUBIN POTOK DESECRATED
UNMIK police confirms in latest report that according to eyewitnesses unknown attackers destroyed and scattered icons in church



ERP KIM Info Service
Gracanica, March 3, 2003


In today's report UNMIK police states that on February 28 a male witness confirmed for police that unknown persons broke into the Serbian Orthodox chapel in the village of Zupce, Zubin Potok municipality, and desecrated the sacred building. According to the eyewitness the attackers destroyed and scattered the icons in the church.

The small chapel, of some 20 square meters, was built in 1938 in the location of an older, medieval church, near the Orthodox cemetery.

The village of Zupce is the easternmost Serb village near Zubin Potok, which borders on the areas of the Albanian villages of Cabra and Kosutovo. During the last three years several incidents have occurred in this area. In 2000 local Serbs requested a KFOR checkpoint after Albanians set fire to a Serb house on the outskirts of Zupce.

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija condemns this latest act of vandalism and requests that the UNMIK police find the perpetrators.


If the soldiers leave Decani and move to their new base near Pec the monastery will be exposed to serious danger says Italian Senator Alessandro Forlani, photo Decani

KOSOVO: FORLANI (UDC) THE WOUNDS ARE STILL OPEN

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (AGI)
February 27, 2003

(foto: Honorable Alessandro Forlani, UDC)

(AGI) - Rome, 27 February, - Regarding the imminent withdrawal of the Italian KFOR soldiers which have been guarding for three and half years the medieval monastery of Decani in Kosovo, Senator Alexander Forlani claims that "this place, so precious to the Serb-Orthodox memory and of such great artistic value, should not be left alone to possible retaliations by the Albanian extremists. If the soldiers leave Decani and move to their new base near Pec, the monastery, in which 35 monks and some of their attendants live, will run a risk to be exposed to serious danger.
According to reliable sources, the extremists have already destroyed 112 Orthodox churches since 1999 until today and desecrated numerous cemeteries. In this way they perhaps intend to discourage the return of the Serbs who had fled Kosovo in their time'.

This alarming news, in the opinion of Senator Forlani, again bring forward unsettled future status of Kosovo and the role of  the peace mission and the international peacekeeping forces. What will be the final institutional settlement in the region and are Albanians and the Serb minority still capable of cohabitation. So far KFOR has not succeded to fully prevent abuses by Albanian extremists and to assure the safety for the Serbs which have to live under armored protection, without elementary human and civil rights. 'We find ourselves, concludes the Senator, in front of a still opened conflict in a region of Europe that has potential for destabilization'.

We need more decisive and effective efforts by the international community to achieve that which is the objective of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – multiethnic and democratic Kosovo.



ERPKIM INFO-SERVICE, FEB 24, 2003

LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE - KOSOVO IN A DEADLOCK
B92: SERB DEPUTIES AGAIN WALK OUT OF KOSOVO PARLIAMENT

AP: Foreign ministers of Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro discuss regional security
BETA: Djindjic proposes Kosovo federation
SRGOV: Nebojsa Covic - Statement to the NATO leaders in Brussels
BETA: There is no one to listen to Serbs from three villages

FLASH NEWS FROM KOSOVO - RADIO YUGOSLAVIA
KFOR COMMANDER GEN. MINI TARGETED BY ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS


30 GIORNI (February) AFTER THE BOMBS THE CHAOS
by Gianni Valente

VICTIMS OF HUMANITARIANISM

“The Pope in Belgrade? His visit would provoke new divisions in our church. The opinion is widespread among our people that the Vatican was largely implicated in all that has happened in former Yugoslavia over the last twelve years”. An interview with Bishop Artemije, leader of the Serbo-Orthodox community in Kosovo

by Gianni Valente

Artemije, the Bishop of Raska and Prizren who leads the Serbo-Orthodox community in Kosovo, also shares the life of his people under siege. He cannot leave his regular quarters in Gracanica to celebrate the holy liturgy in other places without the armed escort of KFOR troops. His activities, and also his replies in the following interview, are not free of the drastic tone of someone unwilling to make the due distinctions about components of the Albanian opposition, and he is little inclined to attempt more balanced judgements on the tangle of rights and wrongs in post-war Kosovo. But they do testify to the real sufferings of an entire population over whom the international media system and humanitarian indignation à la carte seem to have extended a veil of oblivion. MORE

Communique of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
regarding the Mitrovica Declaration on Serbian Sovreignity in Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, February 25, 2003

UNION OF SERB MUNICIPALITIES
DECLARATION ON SOVREIGNITY OF SERBIA IN
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

Kosovska Mitrovica, February 25, 2003

WAR AGAINST THE DEAD CONTINUING
ERP KIM Info-Service


ITALIAN WW2 MILITARY CEMETERY IN PEC TURNED INTO A GARBAGE DUMP

APALLING SITUATION IN THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CEMETERY OF PEC

Foreingers' cemetery in the upper part of the Serb Orthodox cemetery in Pec.  Graves of Italian, French and Russian White Guard soldiers now lie underneath tons of  trash and debris dumped by local Kosovo Albanians.  Now the snow covers the sad scene of human madness and utmost lack of respect towards a Christian holy site, photo: ERP KIM Info-Service, Feb 24, 2003

ITALIAN WW2 MILITARY CEMETERY IN PEC TURNED INTO A GARBAGE DUMP

The so called Foreigners' cemetery is located between the Serb Orthodox main cemetery in Pec and the cemetery of the Belo Polje village. Since the end of the war in 1999 the Foreigners' cemetery was covered by tons of trash and debris which local Kosovo Albanian constantly dump on Christian cemeteries in the area. We are presenting a special report by the ERP KIM Info-service reporter D.P. who investigated the fate of at least 50 Italian soldiers who were killed by Albanian extremists Balli Kombetar in 1943-1944 and were burried in the upper part of the Pec cemetery.

Serbian Orthodox Church will request urgent assistance from the Italian, French and Russian Embassies in Belgrade and the local international Kosovo offices to clean and reconstruct the Foreigners' cemetery as well as the main Serb Orthodox cemetery and protect it from further Albanian vandalism.

This tragic fate of the Italian, French and Russian graves in Pec shows again that nothing which bears the sign of cross and Christianity is holy to Kosovo Albanian extremists and their supporters. MORE


photo showing an opened Serb tomb in the Pec cemetery, 24. feb 2003.
APALLING SITUATION IN THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CEMETERY OF PEC
The war against the dead has not brought any good to anyone but only shame and disgrace

Omnia videt Deus et omnia audit
(God sees everything and everything does He hear)

Radio B92
February 24, 2003

Today a delegation of the Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren visited the Serb cemetery in Pec and the part of the cemetery in which were burried foreign soldiers from the First and Second World Wars. With profound regret it was noticed that several more tombs in the Serbian section of the cemetery had recently been opened and that some wooden coffins inside the tombs were desecrated and broken.

Such uncivilized behavior of local Kosovo Albanians who have been desecrating and looting the Serb Orthodox cemetery in Pec in the last three and half years is one of the most tragic pages of the recent history of this region and a dark spot on the future records of UN/KFOR mission in Kosovo and Metohija. It is absolutely impossible to understand that after so many appeals and requests to efficiently prevent such barbarous acts international authorities did not do anything to secure the cemetery and make local Albanians stop with their misdeeds. With their passivity and disappointing lack of determination international representatives failed to stop the local Kosovo Albanians from dumping with trash and debris even the graves of their own soldiers from the Second World War.

It was especially disappointing to learn that destruction of the cemetery in Pec is not unknown to the local Kosovo Albanian administrators in Pec at all. They openly allowed their compatriots to turn the devastated Serb village of Belo Polje and the nearby city cemetery into a public dumping place which also happened in several neighboring abandoned Serb villages. Dozens of marble coverings were dismantled from the tombs and sold on the local market.

Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren raises once again its voice against the crime which Kosovo Albanians of Pec have comitted against Christian cemeteries. The war against the dead has not brought any good to anyone but only shame and disgrace. Those who believe that such gruesome acts will remain unpunished should be aware that the worldly justice may be delayed, but no one will ever evade the righteous judgement of God. Sooner or later the history will bring to the light of the day all evils which were done against the remains of the deceased and numerous other Christian sites in Kosovo Province.


ERPKIM INFO-SERVICE, FEB 24, 2003


SNC KM: PREMIER REXHEPI'S STATEMENTS REPRESENT BLACKMAILING OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

ERP KIM: Diocese of Raska and Prizren condemns the latest Albanian terrorist attack in Mogila, nr. Kosovska Vitina
AFP: One policeman killed and two injured in a mine blast in Southern Serbia
BETA: Kosovo Albanians organizing armed formations near Prizren
BLIC: United Balkans Against Greater Albania
RADIO YUGOSLAVIA: Kosovo and Metohija News

CHURCH WELCOMES READINESS OF ITALIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TO CONTINUE PROTECTING ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Italian soldiers and other members of KFOR forces in Kosovo and Metohija have the historic responsibility to preserve the most important Orthodox churches from barbaric destruction

ERPKIM Info-Service
Gracanica, February 22, 2003

(Photo: KFOR commander General Fabio Mini receives icon of Christ from Fr. Sava of Decani Monastery as symbolic pledge for protection of Orthodox churches in Kosovo and Metohija)

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren welcomes the readiness of the Italian ministry of defense and the Italian Army to continue to protect Orthodox churches in its zone of responsibility, in Metohija. This important statement is encouraging to our Church, which during the past three years in Kosovo and Metohija together with its faithful people has been exposed to unbridled violence and destruction by Albanian extremists.

Recent statements by some UNMIK and KFOR officials regarding a supposed improvement in the security situation and hasty announcements regarding the removal of checkpoints near monasteries and churches have caused unrest among our monks, clergy and faithful people who have succeeded in preserving their Christian faith and Serbian heritage under almost impossible conditions. Reducing the degree of protection or transfer of security to the Albanian police would certainly represent a risk to our churches, and KFOR and UNMIK must be aware that it would to a great degree cause regression to the entire peace process.

Three and a half years after conflict it is completely apparent that the Kosovo Albanians and their institutions have not changed their negative and anti-civilizing attitude toward the Christian Orthodox spiritual and cultural legacy. Therefore, monasteries and churches regardless of other political solutions must remain under the strong protection of peacekeeping forces. In the near future it would be advisable to consider mixed Serb-international forces which would continue to secure these monuments of spirituality and culture in accordance with Resolution 1244.

The Diocese also appeals to security officials to bring to justice as soon as possible those who are responsible for the destruction of over 110 Orthodox churches and monasteries after the war. The destruction of valuable spiritual and cultural monuments was carried out with the goal of obliterating all traces of an entire people and must be punished. Unfortunately, those who organized and ordered this destruction are today sitting in Kosovo and Metohija institutions and using the institutions of the system to complete the destruction of the last remaining traces of Serbs in this region.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Italian Army on its efforts to protect our Orthodox churches, especially the monasteries of the Pec Patriarchate and Visoki Decani.

The Italian Army and other members of KFOR in Kosovo and Metohija have the historic responsibility to preserve Orthodox churches from barbaric destruction. They should be proud of this role because they are at the same time protecting the cultural and spiritual foundations of European civilization.




Church of Virgin Mary built in 1315, destroyed by Kosovo Albanians in 1999
 

ANSA: MONASTERIES AT RISK WITHOUT ITALIAN SOLDIERS

ANSA

ROME, 19 FEB – The medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries of Kosovo are at risk of disappearing if the protection of NATO (KFOR) soldiers present in the region since June of 1999 does not continue. This alarming news was published by the magazine '30 Giorni' in this week’s issue.

According to this periodical since 1999 Albanian extremists have used explosive to destroy 110 Orthodox churches and now the medieval jewel, Decani Monastery, is also at risk due to the announced withdrawal of Italian KFOR soldiers who have been protecting it for the past three years and who are scheduled to be transferred to a new Italian base near Pec as soon as it is completed.

'I have written to the KFOR command in Kosovo,' says Father Sava, one of the monks, 'and expressed by concern for the survival of the monastery. I still have not received an answer but I have confidence in the Italian soldiers, because already during the Second World War the Italian carabinieri saved the monastery from the Balli Kombetar, the paramilitary Albanian nationalists who fought on the side of the Nazis.'

An Italian colonel who wished to remain anonymous also told the periodical that 'the Albanian extremists are only waiting for us to leave so they can level the Serbian churches and monasteries with the ground because they believe that only by their complete destruction will they weaken the will of the Serbs to return.'

The magazine also published an interview with Vittorio Sgarbi who believes it is necessary to protect the Orthodox churches and monasteries which, built between the 13th and the 14th centuries, 'have made this part of the Balkans a real treasury of artistic masterpieces'. Sgarbi notes especially the frescoes 'decorated with so much vivacity and originality, which is extremely difficult considering the rigidity of the Byzantine style.' 'In some instances,' adds Sgarbi, 'it is as if we are looking at Giotto.'

BERSELLI - ITALIANS WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT MONASTERIES IN THEIR AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY, INCLUDING DECANI MONASTERY

ANSA

ROME, FEB. 20 - "Italian soldiers will continue to protect Serbian Orthodox monasteries in their zone of responsibility, including the beautiful Decani Monastery." This assurance comes from the Italian deputy minister of defense Filippo Berselli. This response followed alarming news published in the magazine "30 Giorni" that since 1999 Albanian extremists have used explosive to destroy 110 Orthodox churches.

According to the magazine, now the medieval jewel, Decani Monastery, is also at risk due to the announced withdrawal of Italian KFOR soldiers who have been protecting it for the past three years. One of the monks, Father Sava, has also written to the KFOR command expressing his concern.

Deputy minister Berselli neverthless assures: "The unit protecting the monastery will remain as assigned. Italian soldiers will continue to control their zone of responsibility, to protect this church and to guarantee security for the monks there. I completely assure that they will not be abandoned."

Berselli personally visited Kosovo not long ago and also visited Decani Monastery. "This church," he adds, "represents an important part of the historical and artistic heritage of Kosovo which absolutely must be protected".

FIRST ARRESTS OF KOSOVO ALBANIAN WAR CRIME SUSPECTS ENCOURAGES SERB COMMUNITY
SNC KM: All responsible for war and post-war crimes must be brought to justice regardless of their ethnicity

ERP KIM Info-Service
Gracanica, February 19, 2003

First arrests of Kosovo Albanian war crime suspects are important encouraging signs for the Kosovo Serb community. Three years the Serb people were waiting for the justice and the latest actions give hope that the justice is not blind and one-sided as it appeared for years. Serbian leaders think that the arrests must continue because large documentation was given to the Hague tribunal about the incriminating behavior of some leading Kosovo Albanians.

Bringing all responsible for war and post-war crimes, regardless of their ethnicity and rank, is the only way to pursue inter-ethnic reconciliation and build a true democratic society. Once everyone in Kosovo learns that no one can escape justice the level of crime will fall and people will turn to legal political methods in struggle for their interests.

After the conflict in 1999, KLA leadership launched a campaign of terror in which at least 2000 of innocent Serb and Albanian civilians suffered. Despite the presence of the international peacekeepers KLA organized illegal detention camps in which innocent captives were tortured and killed, among them women, children and elderly people. Leading KLA officials took direct part in this campaign or at least were completely informed of what was going on. Not a single Albanian leader took any measures to denounce the criminals and stop campaign of terror and theft.

For certain time the responsible for these criminal acts seemed to enjoy immunity because international community was afraid that their arrests might create political instability and possible retribution against international personnel. But the eyes of justice could not be kept closed forever. More and more witnesses come out with their testimonies, not only in the Serb but also Kosovo Albanians. Despite attempts to negate any crimes the truth of post war Albanian campaign of terror comes every day more and more in the focus and cannot be ignored.

That is why SNC KM strongly supports the arrests of crime suspects with hope that this action will not be stopped. The justice has to prevail over power of former warlords who thought that they could shape the future of Kosovo's society by crime and violence as they did during the war.

SERB HOUSES IN BICHA VILLAGE STONED

ERP KIM Info-Service
February 18, 2003

(photo: Bica (pr. Beecha, received first Serb returnees in summer 2002)

The inhabitants of Bica (pronounced as Beecha), a Serbian returnee village near Klina, informed the Diocese of Raska and Prizren of the latest stoning of their homes, which happened yesterday evening (Monday) around 10.20 PM.

Four days ago the Italian KFOR units deployed in protecting the village, removed the check-point protecting the houses which are some 1.5 km from the centre of the village. According to the statements of the villagers, from then on, these six distant homes have been under constant attacks and provocations by the local Albanians, coming in the night toward the Serbian houses, throwing stones and thus breaking windows and roof tiles. The local Serbs are obliged to fix new damages on their houses only shortly after they have managed to reconstruct them with a lot of hard work and painful efforts .

After yesterday's attack all the inhabitants from that part of the village gathered in one of the houses, spending night under the surveillance of the Italian soldiers who appeared on the spot immediately after the attack.

Men, women and children from these homes do not feel safe any more and say they will be compelled to take refuge once again if KFOR does not restitutes the check-point. Bica people are generally very satisfied with the presence of the soldiers of Italian KFOR who claim that the latest orders to secure the village is to shift from the system of fixed check-points to patrol system . But the villagers claim that it is not enough, being very well shown in the last few attacks on the houses, amoong which the last was the worst one. Bica people say that even the Italian soldiers are often being stoned by the Albanians during their night patrols in the village.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren strongly appeals to KFOR command to revise the possibility of re-establishing fixed check-points, at least around villages and churces being under direct danger. Although the process of removing fixed check-points in some areas of the Province was not followed by rising of violence, the situation on the ground is not the same all over the province, and accordingly, it is not possible to implement the same standards in every situation. It is very clear that returnee villages would be the first under the extremists' attacks, and they must have adecquate protection, in order to encourage the others to come back to their homes.

NATO DETAINS KOSOVO WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS

BBC
Pristina, February 17, 2003

Nato-led peacekeepers in Kosovo have detained three war crimes suspects. A spokesman for Kfor said the operation was carried out without casualties and that the three had been taken to a secure location.

The identity of the suspects has not been revealed, though they are believed to have been named in indictments by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Local media have reported that at least two of those arrested are Kosovo Albanians.
If that proves true, they will be the first charged by the tribunal for crimes committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

Monday's operation came hours after four ethnic Albanian former guerrillas went on trial for war crimes in the Kosovan capital Pristina.

ERP KIM Info-Service

THREE KOSOVO ALBANIANS ALREADY SENT TO THE HAGUE, CONFIRM ALBANIAN MEDIA IN PRISTINA

Pristina, February 17, 2003

Kosovo Albanian media report tonight that Haradin Balaj (22) from Drenica, Isak Musliu known as -Commander Cercez- and one more unidentified Kosovo Albanian, who were arrested in Kosovo under suspicion of committing war crimes, have reportedly already been sent to the Hague.
Radio TV Kosovo (RTK), TV2 and Kohavizion reported that Musliu was arrested in the night between Thursday and Friday (13/14th February) in Urosevac and that he was temporarily detained in the US base Bondsteel.

KFOR and ICTY representatives in Kosovo still refuse to specify identity of the arrested suspects.

SNC KM AND SNC NK AGAINST DECLARATION OF SUPPORT TO INDEPENDENT KOSOVO BY KOSOVO PARLIAMENT
Failure to react to this declaration by Serb deputies who were present takes away legitimacy of the Return Coalition to represent the Serb people

Gracanica/Kosovska Mitrovica, February 13, 2003

The Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija and the Serb National Council of North Kosovo most strongly condemn today?s adoption of a declaration of support for an independent Kosovo by the Kosovo parliament.

At today?s session the Kosovo parliament adopted by acclamation a joint declaration by the heads of the caucuses of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and Bosniac Vatan Coalition expressing support for the initiative of 42 deputies dates February 3 that parliament proclaim an independent and sovereign Kosovo. Deputies did not vote on this joint declaration, called ?the declaration on the declaration?; it was merely read. In this way, the draft declaration on independence entered regular parliamentary procedure so that it can be considered at a subsequent session. The declaration was only read and adopted without a vote so that it could not be annulled by UNMIK chief Michael Steiner.

For the SNC KIM and the SNC NK this development represents an unprecedented and direct attack on Resolution 1244 and the UNMIK international mission which according to this resolution has the task of ensuring the building of provisional institutions for the substantial autonomy of Kosovo and Metohija within the framework of Serbia and Montenegro, not to build a second ethnic Albanian state in the Balkans. Albanian deputies and their supporters have abused the parliament as an institution, which from today is acting quite openly outside the framework of Resolution 1244. By today?s act the leading Albanian parties have taken away the legitimacy of the Kosovo parliament and headed down the path of exacerbating interethnic confrontations and instigation of violence.

Members of the Return (Povratak) Coalition and representatives of the SNC KIM Dr. Rada Trajkovic and Randjel Nojkic did not enter the parliamentary hall today but instead followed developments during the session by monitor from auxiliary parliamentary offices. Unfortunately the other representatives of the Serb Return Coalition not only remained in their seats during the reading of the Albanian declaration but failed to publicly express their disagreement in any way. They even took part afterward in debates on other topics without even mentioning the declaration. Such irresponsible behavior on the part of the Serb deputies led by Oliver Ivanovic, Gojko Savic and Dragisa Krstovic, deserves the strongest condemnation and anger of the Serb people because at a key moment they failed to express their constituents. Once again it appears that the externally imposed decision regarding the return of the Return Coalition to parliament is a tragic mistake giving an illusory political legitimacy to the Albanian policy of an independent and ethnically cleansed Kosovo and Metohija.

A parliament in fact serves as a forum for the public expression of opinions before the electorate. Representatives of the Return Coalition today failed to meet their basic responsibility and their shameful and inexcusable silence at today?s session cannot be interpreted otherwise than as tacit support for the policy of an independent Kosovo, extreme lack of political experience and an example of the self-will of a few individuals who take it upon themselves to promote their personal agendas at the expense of their own people.

The SNC KIM and SNC NK especially condemns the unprecedented statement of Coalition member Oliver Ivanovic who after the parliamentary session misleadingly tried to justify his silence and lack of reaction to the Albanian declaration as a scandalous example of political dilettantism. After today?s debâcle where members of the Return Coalition were publicly humiliated along with the entire Serb people it will be absolutely unthinkable for the Serb deputies to appear again in parliament without experiencing a public contempt by their own people.

The SNC KIM and SNC NK call on UNMIK chief Michael Steiner to publicly annul this illegal declaration and to take urgent measures to prevent the initiative for declaring an independent Kosovo from appearing on the parliamentary agenda. Tolerating or even supporting such demands will only serve to further compromise the position of UNMIK.

In the event of a debate on the independence of Kosovo and its possible proclamation by parliament, the SNC KIM and SNC NK publicly supports the initiative to urgently undertake measures for the formation of a Serb Kosovo and Metohija parliament, which will adopt a counter-declaration recognizing the full sovereignty and state integrity of Serbia and Montenegro in Kosovo and Metohija.

BISHOP ARTEMIJE OF RASKA-PRIZREN
Chairman of the SNC KIM

DR. MILAN IVANOVIC
Chairman of the SNC NK

MORE NEWS