For immediate release


Reaction of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija to "the appeal of Albanian leaders to displaced Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija"


The Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija believe that the recent appeal of Kosovo Albanian leaders to displaced and expelled Serbs to return to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija is a formally positive but essentially insincere political move and trick whose goals are more in the domain of political marketing than in the honest intention of establishing better interethnic tolerance and democratic relations. Unfortunately, the enormous disparity between rhetoric and the everyday reality in which the Serb community lives is too great for this appeal to represent serious encouragement for 230,000 Serbs which are not granted free return to their homes four years after they fled Kosovo.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija must state with regret that the concrete behavior of individual Kosovo Albanian leaders and Albanian municipal authorities in practical life is diametrically opposed to the rhetoric of the aforementioned appeal.

Nenad Radosavljevic, the repatriation coordinator in the office of the special representative of the UN secretary general in Kosovo and Metohija, has already pointed out several concrete examples where municipal authorities belonging to the parties of Ibrahim Rugova and Hashim Thaci, respectively, are openly blocking returns and failing to undertake any concrete measures to realize the return of displaced citizens*. The situation is especially difficult in the Pec region where the municipal authorities are rhetorically calling on Serbs to return while at the same time preventing in practice by a series of impossible conditions any organized and sustained return by Serb citizens to this region. Even though conditions for the return of individuals or smaller groups and families do not exist in most of the Province, especially in the urban centers, due to enormous security risks and pervasive ethnic discrimination, K/Albanian leaders stubbornly oppose the return of the Serb population of entire Serb villages that now lie empty with the justification that they don't want "the creation of new enclaves." Very frequently mentioned in public is the false idea that Serbs in fact do not want to return, without bothering to mention that it is completely unrealistic to expect the return of families with women and children to locations where these people are faced with the absolute lack of elementary security and human rights. By stubbornly avoiding to responsibly build a spirit of tolerance and a readiness to accept the refugees among the majority populace, the K/Albanian municipal authorities are actually conducting an organized and carefully planned campaign to prevent the return of significant numbers of displaced persons, especially to urban centers. At the same time, the tolerance and hiding of continued crimes and pressure applied on remaining Serbs, especially the elderly, to sell their property and leave Kosovo and Metohija represents another indicator that behind the rhetoric prepared for the Western media market there is no sincere willingness for a common life, tolerance and respect for the rights of non-Albanians.

The position of Albanian leaders who claim that "they cannot guarantee either security or employment" for Serb returnees is highly problematic. From such a statement it follows that these leaders are not ready to assume any personal responsibility or concrete political activity in order to create better interethnic living conditions. There are many examples confirming this "political schizophrenia" of Albanian politicians because after all major incidents where Albanian extremists have attacked and murdered members of the Serb community or destroyed churches, the political leaders of the main Albanian parties in the Province chiefly limited themselves to superficial, ambiguous and rhetorical statements condemning violence without taking any concrete measures to publicly reduce interethnic tension and intolerance. What is more, by their statements in contacts with their electorate they continued with their usual nationalistic rhetoric, acting as if no one lived in the Province except ethnic Albanians.

What awaits Serb returnees to the Province where they are being so magnanimously invited by the leading Albanian politicians?

First, the complete absence of any form of security guarantees, individual or collective rights or freedoms. Serbs continue to be subject to persecution, attack, theft and various acts of violence. All postwar crimes against Serbs, including the massacre of the Stolic family, remain unsolved crimes because of the absolute unwillingness of the Albanian community and its political leadership to help UNMIK police to identify the criminals. Not one instance of destruction or desecration of Orthodox churches or cemeteries has been positively resolved and there is an absolute conspiracy of silence in the Province regarding the issue altogether, which not infrequently borders on a tacit approval of the crimes themselves or even accusing Serbs of blowing up their own shrines. Mr. Ibrahim Rugova and the other leaders of Albanian political parties act as if all these crimes are happening somewhere in Madagascar or in the Philippines. Premier Rexhepi, for instance, openly contested a number of destroyed churches in a meeting with a group of Italian senators in March this year, which was later confirmed by the Albanian press and the senators themselves. He also repeated a "popular" theory that only political churches were destroyed although many of the destroyed shrines were built in the 13th or 14th century. In this way Rexhepi de facto not only justified these acts of vandalism but also encouraged new attacks. After the stoning of 50 Serb pensioners in Pec in December of last year, none of the Albanian leaders visited the elderly men and women who were attacked, nor did anyone publicly address the Albanian population of Pec to point out that behavior of this sort is unacceptable for a society that aspires to become a part of Europe. The so-called Albanian "independent press," which under the strong influence of the political parties, is not only failing to participate in the building of a spirit of tolerance but is further fanning the flames of interethnic intolerance and persistently glorifying the ideals of wartime violence, representing the chief obstacle to the process of the democratization of society.

It is characteristic that Albanian leaders consistently see the essence of the security problem in the Province in "organized crime." Of course, no one can deny that since 1999 Kosovo has become a mecca of organized crime, prostitution and drug dealing, a fact regularly reported by the Western press. However, the real root of violence and crime lies in the existence of a retrograde collective consciousness that the Province should be transformed into an ethnically pure Albanian independent state, where even the last vestiges of Serb presence and culture should be eliminated once and for all. This is the direction toward which the surviving structures of the former Kosovo Liberation Army are working, whether through the terrorist Albanian National Army (ANA) or through "legal" structures such as the Kosovo Protection Corps, Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and public institutions. Recently the Kosovo Parliament passed a decision, despite the opposition of the Serb delegates and the international community, proclaiming the war fought by the KLA to be "a war of liberation," despite the fact that a large number of innocent civilians - Serbs, Albanians, Roma and Bosniacs - perished at the hands of extremists belonging to this inherently terrorist organization. Only a month ago leading Albanian politicians reaffirmed in Prizren the 19th century ideals of the infamous "Prizren League," behind which stands the idea of the political unification of all the Albanians in the Balkans in a single, ethnically based, exclusive state. With its exclusive ethnic Albanian and Islamist postulates, the Prizren League is a dangerous anachronism and an obstacle to the democratic development of society and the establishment of interethnic confidence. The statements of the Albanian leaders on the occasion of these "national" occasions are in grotesque contradiction to the polished rhetoric of the appeal to displaced Serbs. Nationalistic rhetoric is often used as a public cover by those leaders who are under suspicion of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and it is not unusual at all that the main initiators of the post-war ethnic violence wrap themselves in the Albanian national flag in order to present themselves as the only sincere fighters for the future of the Kosovo Albanian people.

Keeping all these fact in mind, we cannot help but conclude that the most recent declaration appealing for the return of displaced Serbs is yet another colorful lie the purpose of which is to conceal the direct responsibility of certain leaders who have subscribed to the organization and encouragement of crimes against the Serb population since the end of the war in June 1999. Rhetoric without the readiness for concrete political and moral responsibility and the equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of ethnic affiliation, is only another attempt to hide the real situation at any price and to portray Kosovo, the most intolerant part of the European continent, as "the land of milk and honey."

Consequently, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija call on Albanian leaders and on the Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohija as a whole to spend less time on empty rhetoric and more on concrete activities aimed at building a more tolerant society and preventing ethnic violence and terrorism, so as to create the necessary atmosphere for the return of displaced persons. The rhetoric of the appeal has therefore to be confirmed by concrete actions so that it might have any political and moral credibility. The refugees will then return to their homes of their own accord without histrionic public appeals and media furor. The Serb community will actively participate in the building of a democratic society and the true multiethnic institutions, but only under the condition that it is not a society tailored only for one privileged ethnic community, a society where Serbs as a people will be second class citizens. This is the only reality that the Serb people can and will accept. It certainly is not the reality created by ethnic terror, looting, the burning down of churches and the digging up of graves, which Albanian leaders want Serbs to accept as a precondition for their normal and safe life in Kosovo.

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren and the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija again publicly reiterate that conditions for resolving the final status of the Province cannot be achieved by rhetoric and arguments in vain, but only by implementation of democratic standards and establishing equal rights for all citizens.


+ ARTEMIJE (Radosavljevic)

Communiqué of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the proposal of Kosovo premier Bajram Rexhepi that protection of monasteries and churches in the Province be turned over to the Kosovo Protection Corps

Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija


02 JULY 2003

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija most strongly opposes the proposal of Kosovo premier Bajram Rexhepi that KFOR turn over the protection on endangered Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches in the southern Serbian Province to the Albanian run Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC)*.

This proposal represents an unprecedented act of hypocrisy because the former members of the KLA, who today comprise most of the KPC, were the ones who destroyed or heavily damaged more than 100 Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija after June 1999. Many members of the KPC actively participated in the expulsion, torture and murder of Serb and non-Albanian civilians after the war, as evidenced by indictments against several leading figures of the KPC. According to the Pristina daily "Koha Ditore" Rexhepi made this proposal directly to NATO secretary general George Robertson during a recent visit to Pristina by a senior delegation of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) without any prior consultations with members of the Serbian Orthodox Church or the Return Coalition (Povratak).

Rexhepi's proposal is an attempt to give the KPC a military role at any price, even though Lord Robertson himself stated in Pristina that the KPC cannot be involved in security matters nor evolve into some sort of "Kosovo army." This proposal also is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which places the protection of Serb religious and cultural-historical monuments directly under the jurisdiction of "personnel of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)" (Annex 2, paragraph 6).

It is the opinion of the Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija that until the political and security situation in Kosovo and Metohija has stabilized, the protection of endangered Orthodox churches and monasteries in the Province can only be carried out by the members of KFOR who have provided protection to date. The only possible alternative to KFOR troops would be Serbia and Montenegro security forces, as per UNSC Res. 1244. The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija also opposes the participation of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) in the protection of Orthodox shrines because of the general lack of trust among the Serb population in this organization, many of whose ethnic Albanians members are former members of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.

After barbaric destruction and looting of over one hundred Serbian Orthodox churches, the desecration of dozens of Orthodox cemeteries and four years of unending ethnic terror against the Serb community and its Church, the Kosovo Albanians have no moral right to ask that precious Serb cultural monuments be placed under the protection of any Albanian institution in Kosovo and Metohija. This is especially true of the Kosovo Protection Corps, which represents a dangerous carryover from the past marked by corruption, participation of its members in the activities of the so-called Albanian National Army (ANA)** and other illegal activities, and a serious factor of regional instability.

With respect to the above mentioned and absolutely unacceptable proposal of Rexhepi, as well as the serious concern of the Serbian Orthodox Church that cutbacks in KFOR forces will negatively affect the security of endangered shrines and the Serb community as a whole, Bishop Artemije will address a separate letter directly to Lord Robertson and the leadership of the NATO alliance.


*Kosovo protection Corps (or in Albanian version: Kosovo defensive troops) is an organization which evolved from the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK).

** Albanian National Army (ANA) or (AKSH in Albanian) is an extremist ethnic Albanian organization fighting for creation of Greater Albania. It was officially proclaimed a terrorist organization by the Special representative of the UN Secretary General, Michael Steiner in April 2003.


Painting by Petar Radicevic 1987
Kosovo battle 1389 (link at
Who was St. Prince Lazar and what is the meaning of the Kosovo battle in the Serbian history of Kosovo and Metohija? Serbian Medieval Epic Poetry in English Translation.

The Kosovo Battle was a turning point in the medieval history of Europe. It was not only a battle fought between a Christian alliance led by the Serbian Prince and the army of Sultan Murad but also an event which has marked the centuries of subsequent history of this part of the Balkans. Kosovo has remained an area of conflict between two civilizations, two religions and mentalities.

The Kosovo Field, June 15/28, 1389 by Prof. Sima Cirkovic - A historic essay covering the events before, during and after the Kosovo battle in detail.

One of the most important Serbian religious and national festivals celebrated in Kosovo and Metohija in the presence of the Patriarch, Royal Couple and the representatives of the Serbian Government and local officials.

June 28, 2003


Holy Liturgy in front of the church

Patriarch Pavle, Bishops Artemije and Atanasije

The Serbian Orthodox Church and its faithful today commemorate St. Vitus Day (Vidovdan) and hold memorial services for Holy Prince Lazar and Serb knights who perished in the battle against the Turks in Kosovo Polje in 1389. Vidovdan is also the day of memory of all new-martyrs who suffered for Christ and Orthodox faith since the Second World War.

Holy Liturgy was served by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle with concelebration of Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren (Kosovo and Metohija), Bishop Atanasije, retired Bishop of Hercegovina and several presbyters.

The liturgy was attended by approximately 1,000 people from central Kosovo and other parts of Kosovo and Metohija who gathered in front of Gracanica church early in the morning. KFOR and UNMIK forces provided reinforced security.

The liturgy was attended by Crown Prince Alexander II Karadjordjevic and his wife Princess Katherine. At the service were also present the Serbian deputy premier Nebojsa Covic, the vice chair of the Serbian Parliament Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Momcilo Trajkovic, Return Coalition (Povratak) MPs in the Kosovo parliament and local Serb officials.

With the blessing of his Holiness Patriarch Pavle Bishop Atanasije addressed the congregation in his Vidovdan homily.

"Six hundred and fourteen years have passed since the Serb defeat in Kosovo and the great victory of the Cross and the Resurrection. The holy martyr Vitus for whom this day is named gave his life but the Serbs came to life - on the path to the Kingdoms of Earth and Heaven," said Bishop Atanasije.

In his homily Bishop Atanasije severly criticized the UN Mission saying that "during the last four years Kosovo is ruled by slavery, occupation and tyranny."

"They are teaching the Albanians to rule in a slave society. Freedom cannot be built on injustice, evil and the subjugation of others. The aggressors have set out to destroy all traces of us and that is why they are destroying our shrines. They bear witness to who we are, where we are from and how long we have been in Kosovo," said Bishop Atanasije.

He also noted that 120 Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed in Kosovo since the arrival of UNMIK and KFOR while, on the other hand, "the occupiers are building palaces and cities."

After the Holy Liturgy Patriarch Pavle cut the feastal cake (Slavski kolac) in front of the Gracanica church and called the people to remain faithful to Christ and His holy commandments.

Holy Liturgy

Commemorate, oh Lord.....


In the continuation of the celebration Princess Katherine delivered a donation in food and medicine to Bishop Artemije, which will be distributed to the parishioners of this diocese. On that occasion, Princess Katharine addressed the gathering:

"My husband and I know this is a great day in our history and we belong here with you today. We bring you food and medicine as humanitarian aid, donated by our friends from Greece. I hope it will make your lives here at least a little easier. I assure you my husband, Crown Prince Alexander and I, will continue our work and will always be with you to help you."

Bishop Artemije warmly thanked the Princess for her love and efforts in helping everybody.

Donation of Princess Katherine

Royal Couple with His Grace Bishop Artemije at the luncheon at Gracanica Monastery


After the luncheon Serbian Patriarch Pavle, the bishops and the clergy served the memorial service (panychida) at the Kosovo battle site (Gazimestan) to the Serb heroes who fell in the battle against the Turks on this day in 1389. Gazimestan is situated 5 kilometers north from Pristina, on a hillside where a memorial tower was built after the First World War. On this site Holy Prince Lazar and his most faithfull knights were slain by Sultan Murad and his army after a heavy day-long battle.

"The Serb people live in Kosovo, not to take from others what is theirs, not to trample the freedom of others and impose their faith upon them but in order to defend what is theirs. That is why our ancestors waged battle in Kosovo 614 and laid down their lives. Our Lord, help us in Kosovo to always remember your words: he who endures to the end will be saved," said Patriarch Pavle.

In the conclusion of his homily the Patriarch sent an appeal to everybody to unite and continue to live together in harmony, love and peace in Kosovo and Metohija.

Approximately 1,000 Serb faithful gathered in Gazimestan. KFOR provided additional security along the road betwen Gracanica and the Kosovo battle site so that the participants in this ceremony could drive freely in their own vehicles.

Memorial service at Gazimestan

With holy ones rest, oh Lord, the souls....


After the laying of the wreath on the monument to the Kosovo battle heroes in Gazimestan, HRH Crown Prince Alexander II addressed the present and emphasized that today’s gathering on Vidovdan pays respect to all generations of Serbian soldiers who gave their lives for freedom, as well as to the people of Kosovo and Metohija who lost their lives just because they were Serbs and Orthodox.

The Crown Prince condemned all acts of terrorism, murders, and the recent cold blooded killing of a Serbian family at Obilic as well as any criminal act perpetrated on any Kosovo inhabitant regardless of his or her nationality, ethnic origin or religion. He reminded that the problem of Kosovo can never be solved through violence.

His Highness said that Serbs in the Province live in ghettoes, that there are no refugee returns and that many shrines have been destroyed. He called on the international community to double its efforts and do far more to ensure security and the rule of human rights in Kosovo.

He also called on Serbs in Kosovo and the government in Belgrade not to give up but to continue to work toward a better future in the Province. He appealed to Serbs not to abandon Kosovo "because without them the Serbian churches and monasteries will become museums."





H.R.H. CP Alexander delivers
his speech at Gazimestan

"We should not be discouraged, but rather united and put aside differences, and work wisely for a better future. The Serbs and the Albanians can and must live in Kosovo together in total peace and mutual respect under democratic conditions and the rule of law and that everyone’s human rights are totally respected. As Bishop Artemije always said there is enough land in Kosovo for both the Serbs and the Albanians. To live in peace there must be jobs, investments and

 opportunities for everyone in Kosovo. I repeat again what I have always said to everyone present that there is absolutely no room for extremists from anywhere, terrorism and acts of violence. It is most important that the Serbs remain and live securely in Kosovo and that the exiles return to their homes once conditions are right. Without people, the Serbian monasteries and churches would become museums, and that must never happen. I call on the Serbs not to be strong and not abandon their ancestral homes in Kosovo. I call on the international community to double its efforts and to work much more for security, human rights, the rule of law and democratic institutions," added the Crown Prince.

This was the second visit of Their Royal Highnesses to Kosovo since their return to the homeland.

St. Vitus Day ceremonies commemorating the 614th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo continued in Gracanica in the afternoon.

Jelena and Ivana Zigon
actresses from Belgrade

Serbian traditional folk-dance - "kolo"


On return from Gazimestan Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren awarded 35 "Mother of the Jugoviches" [*] gold medals to Serb women in Kosovo and Metohija with five or more children.

The Diocese also gave special recognition to Belgrade actresses Jelena and Ivana Zigon.

After the cultural and artistic program, Bishop Artemije made the closing remarks for this year's Vidovdan festivities.

[*] According to Serbian tradition, the nine Jugovich brothers and their elderly father perished in the Battle of Kosovo.

Poetical evening at Gracanica Monastery

Poetical evening at Gracanica Monastery


One of burrial sites at Dragodan (near Pristina) with bodies of Serbs killed by UCK after the end of the war. Hundreds of Serb bodies were temporarily burried by local authoritiesin several locations around Kosovo during the second half of 1999. to be exhumed and identified later. Serb human rights organizations have evidence for at least 847 killed and 1154 missing Serbs since June 12, 1999 and the deployment of KFOR/UNMIK. More than one third of pre-war Serb population (240.000) fleed Kosovo in front of KLA terror which was more or less tolerated by peacekeepers. Almost ten times smaller than the Albanian community Kosovo Serbs were proportionally affected more after the war, in the KFOR/UNMIK presence, than Kosovo Albanians during the war period under the MIlosevic regime.


SRNA News Agency
June 24, 2003

PRIZREN -- Thursday -- The remains of three Kosovo-Serbs have been identified after being exhumed from shallow graves on the Suva Reka (dry
river) road near the village of Dulja in Prizren.

The bodies have been idenitified as those of Dejan Jezdic, a former Yugoslav Army officer from Vranje, Stanko Saranovic, kidnapped in Pristina in 1999, and Zvezdan Mojsic, abducted from a bus-stop in Djakovica in 1999.

Vujadin Otasevic, representative of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo and Southern Serbia, confirmed that the bodies are soon to be returned to their families at the Merdare administrative border crossing.



"Almost all the bodies were buried after the deployment of KFOR in Kosovo in 1999; some were even buried here in the year 2000," he said, adding that based on the fact that they were buried in caskets and a few other indicators, for now it was presumed that these had been Serbs.

Beta News Agency, Belgrade
June 24, 2003

KURSUMLIJA - Pathologist Slavisa Dobricanin told Beta news agency today that Serb and UNMIK forensic experts have completed exhumations at the Pristina cemetery of Dragodan after finding 60 bodies.

Dobricanin, who is the head of the Coordinating Center of Kosovo and Metohija's Bureau for Exhumation and Identification, said that the bodies were transferred to the Orahovac center where the autopsies will be conducted.

"We worked in the field protected by police units, which was necessary due to the Albanian settlements near the cemetery," he said.

The exhumation yielded the bodies of eight babies, as well as several bags containing two to three bodies each buried in a mass grave. Some of the bodies are missing body parts such as hands and feet; in some cases, the heads were missing. We were able to immediately determine by inspection that there were signs of violence such as broken bones, suggesting that the victims were murdered, added Dobricanin.

"Almost all the bodies were buried after the deployment of KFOR in Kosovo in 1999; some were even buried here in the year 2000," he said, adding that based on the fact that they were buried in caskets and a few other indicators, for now it was presumed that these had been Serbs.

Exhumations at the Dragodan 2 site were completed while an additional 140 bodies are still waiting to be exhumed from Dragodan 1, said Dobricanin.

The expert team for exhumations had found three more bodies today in Suva Reka, said Dobricanin, and added that the exhumation of bodies will continue in both the Orthodox cemetery in Djakovica and in Prizren.

At the same time by the end of the week several of the bodies identified in the Orahovac center are expected to be turned over to relatives.

A French legionnaire on the bridge over the Ibar river,
dividing North and South Mitrovica, summer 2003

For many who pretend to know something about the Kosovo post-war situation Mitrovica is an ethnically divided city, a symbol of ethnic division in the Province. But the reality is quite different. In the northern, so called, "Serbian quarter" still live 4.000 non-Serbs, primarily Albanians, Slav Moslems and Roma, while in the southern, Albanian part, of the city almost primarily Kosovo Albanians live. All Serbs in this part of the city, a dozen of them, are concentrated in a little ghetto around the Serbian Orthodox church, heavily guarded by KFOR. Roma community was almost completely exterminated, their quarter was thoroughly ignited after the war and the Albanian municipal administration plans to erect a recreation center on the location on which they lived. In fact, while the North has remained more or less as multiethnic as it was before the war in 1999, the South looks nothing different than Pristina, Urosevac, Pec, Djakovica and other major Kosovo cities in which freedom still exists for only one ethnic group - Kosovo Albanians.