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
March 19, 2003, 15.00 CET
by Decani Mon.: Fr. Teodosije Sibalic - Decani Monastery Abbot)
- "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
"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
GERMAN: 120 ORTHODOX CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
DAMAGED OR DESTROYED
Abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery on UNESCO visit
March 18, 2003
by Visoki Decani Monastery: Abbot German, Holy Archangels Monastery
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.
by Holy Archangels: Prizren church of St. Savior, 14th century,
surrounded by barbed wire, 2002)
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.
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
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.)
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.
UNESCO Delegation in Decani Monastery library. In the name of Abbot
Teodosije the expets were received by Fr. Sava Janjic, his deputy)
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
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.
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
VISITED BY UNESCO EXPERTS TEAM (photographs by ERP KIM Info-Service)
1. At the ruins
of St. George Church in the village of Recane near Suva Reka, 14th
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
4. Ruins of the Most Holy Mother of God Monastery in Dolac, 14th
5. UNESCO team of experts in front of Visoki Decani Monastery with
6. Desecrated grave at Orthodox cemetery in Djurakovac, near the
old church (n. 3)
EXTREMISTS DID NOT SPARE EVEN THE GRAVES OF CHILDREN
destroyed and desolate Serbian Orthodox cemetery in Djurakovac Albanians
did not spare even the grave of two year-old Stefan Kozic
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)
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.
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
Gracanica, March 13, 2003
Bishop Artemije with Horst Goedicke, head of the UNESCO Experts Mission
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
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
world art treasury surrounded by intolerance and vandalism
of Kosovo Albanians
(left: Decani Monastery, right: Patriarchate of Pec Monastery,
CACCIARI: THEY ARE ABOUT TO DESTROY JEWELS
Italian philosopher, art-historian and the ex-mayor of Venice,
MASSIMO CACCIARI stood in defence of the Serb Orthodox churches
in Kosovo and Metohija.
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:
contingent is about to be relocated. Moslems can blow up the
works of art of uncomparable value. Appeal by Cacciari.
THEY ARE ABOUT TO
Our soldiers must defend beautiful churches
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
Massimo Cacciari, ex-mayor of Venice and the EU parlamentarian)
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.
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?
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..."
integral text is available in Italian)
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
which provide security for Decani Monastery
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
Gracanica, March 3 2003.
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
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.
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
March 3, 2003
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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
Giornalistica Italia (AGI)
Honorable Alessandro Forlani, UDC)
- 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
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.
GIORNI (February) AFTER THE BOMBS THE CHAOS
by Gianni Valente
“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
by Gianni Valente
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
of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
regarding the Mitrovica Declaration on Serbian Sovreignity in Kosovo
Gracanica, February 25, 2003
OF SERB MUNICIPALITIES
ON SOVREIGNITY OF SERBIA IN
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
Kosovska Mitrovica, February 25, 2003
AGAINST THE DEAD CONTINUING
ERP KIM Info-Service
WW2 MILITARY CEMETERY IN PEC TURNED INTO A GARBAGE DUMP
SITUATION IN THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CEMETERY OF PEC
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
WW2 MILITARY CEMETERY IN PEC TURNED INTO A GARBAGE DUMP
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.
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
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.
photo showing an opened Serb tomb in the Pec cemetery,
24. feb 2003.
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
videt Deus et omnia audit
(God sees everything and everything does He hear)
February 24, 2003
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
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
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.
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.
INFO-SERVICE, FEB 24, 2003
PREMIER REXHEPI'S STATEMENTS REPRESENT BLACKMAILING OF THE INTERNATIONAL
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
Albanians organizing armed formations near Prizren
Balkans Against Greater Albania
Kosovo and Metohija News
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
Gracanica, February 22, 2003
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)
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.
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
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
MONASTERIES AT RISK WITHOUT ITALIAN SOLDIERS
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.'
- ITALIANS WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT MONASTERIES IN THEIR AREA
OF RESPONSIBILITY, INCLUDING DECANI MONASTERY
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".
ARRESTS OF KOSOVO ALBANIAN WAR CRIME SUSPECTS ENCOURAGES SERB
SNC KM: All responsible for war and post-war crimes must be
brought to justice regardless of their ethnicity
Gracanica, February 19, 2003
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
HOUSES IN BICHA VILLAGE STONED
Bica (pr. Beecha, received first Serb returnees in summer 2002)
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.
DETAINS KOSOVO WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS
Pristina, February 17, 2003
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.
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.
have reported that at least two of those arrested are Kosovo
If that proves true, they will be the first charged by the tribunal
for crimes committed during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.
operation came hours after four ethnic Albanian former guerrillas
went on trial for war crimes in the Kosovan capital Pristina.
KOSOVO ALBANIANS ALREADY SENT TO THE HAGUE, CONFIRM ALBANIAN
MEDIA IN PRISTINA
February 17, 2003
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.
ICTY representatives in Kosovo still refuse to specify identity
of the arrested suspects.
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
Mitrovica, February 13, 2003
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
Chairman of the SNC KIM
Chairman of the SNC NK