NEWSLETTER No 28
Artemije meets with UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri
Full report at: Newsletter 17 January, 2004
Uneasiness in Velika Hoca - German KFOR removed the checkpoint for the sake of "further normalization of the situation"
Serbs who work in the municipality still travel only with escort and the only two Serb members of KPS are not allowed to wear guns like their Albanian colleagues - Great concern for protection of valuable cultural heritage in Velika Hoca.
KFOR representatives give briefings on the security situation in the
Orahovac municipality they present it as stable and positive, which
is used as a main argument for continuation of reduction of troops.
But when Serbs, on the basis of this "security improvement"
request a step forward in respect of their human rights, freedom of
movement and return of refugees and monks to the neighboring village
KFOR representatives are quite reserved and cannot give their guarantees.
According to their security assessment the local Albanian population
is still hostile towards Serbs and they say that they cannot
provide safe return of refugees and monks to Zociste.
FULL REPORT by ERP KIM Info-Service:
One Serb wounded by gunfire, six others beaten - KFOR reportedly observes beating of Serbs without responding - Bishop Artemije issues sharpest protest
January 11, 2004
The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija expresses its sharpest protest following attacks on Serbs from Novo Naselje near Lipljan. "We have had enough of hypocritical statements of 'deep concern' and 'regret'. KFOR and the UNMIK police are not tasked and paid to weep over the fate of the Serbs but to protect them from systematic Albanian terror and violence," says Bishop Artemije
Serbs wonded and beaten by Kosovo Albanian mob
at Simonida Hospital in Gracanica, January 11, 2004
Obstruction of Serb returns still continues
Bishop Artemije: "Refugee return is not up to the good will of the Albanian populations, among whom are the same people who expelled the Serbs who are now seeking to return. It is a fundamental human right for which there cannot and must not be any preconditions. This ignoble behavior on the part Klina municipal officials and the refusal of top Kosovo leader to respond to the appeal of Peggy Hicks, best demonstrate that their letter to Serb refugees of last summer is nothing more than meaningless rhetoric.
Stones or Snowballs ..... No, actually, stones in snowballs
The stoning of an UNMIK police escorted bus with Russian aid workers and Senator Scheblygin was in many ways a contradictory event, at least in reactions of the UN Mission and UNMIK police. For those who were in the bus and had to change a vehicle on which a large window glass was smashed into pieces this was an immediate experience of intolerance and vandalism of a number of Kosovo Albanian citizens in Decani town. The Albanians were waiting for the arrival of the bus with Russian pilgrims and showered it with stones in the main square "decorated" by a flag of Republic of Albania, one of the largest of a kind in Kosovo Province.
Anyway, no one in UNMIK was sure that the incident occurred for at least 24 hours although the square was supposedly secured by "strong security forces of different police units and KFOR". While BETA news agency (Belgrade) already in the evening reported that Mr. Holkeri condemned the incident, UNMIK police report claimed next morning that nothing occurred. Very soon unofficial information came that it was not 30, or 300 Albanians but only 3 Albanians who were throwing snowballs. Since the Russians luckily made the video footage of the incident and confirmed that it was stones after all and not so a small group of Albanians, UNMIK police chief Mr. Stefan Feller found a "Solomon solution" - the bus was attacked by stones within snowballs.
any case this sad incident in which no one was hurt and for which
no Albanian leaders (either municipal or Kosovo political leaders)
made any apologize was one more proof to the Russian journalists that
Kosovo Province is still ruled by ethnic discrimination and religious
Kosovo: No peace for Orthodox Christmas (Forum 18, Oslo)
The Orthodox Christmas season this month has been marred in Kosovo by a series of violent incidents, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. A church was broken into and several items and some money were stolen, and a bus was attacked by local Albanians at the Decani monastery after the Christmas service. The attack on the church follows an earlier attack in November 2003. Officials of the United Nations administration (UNMIK) have condemned the attacks, the latest in a series since 1999 for which no arrests have ever been made. Speaking to Forum 18 about the attack on the bus, Fr Sava Janjic of the Decani monastery described it as a "demonstration of utmost religious intolerance" on Christmas "a holiday of peace and forgiveness". "What a paradox, that the attack was made at a moment when the head of UNMIK, only a hundred metres away, was speaking with the local Decani assembly president and appealed to him to show tolerance and understanding towards Decani monastery."
Stone Russian Delegation in Decani
"A day of peace - The birth of Christ!" How unrealistic it sounds in today's world when there are wars and killing in every corner of the planet, when horrible explosions each day in global metropolises take their toll of innocent victims, when peoples kill each other without mercy, when brothers work to crush each other.."
"A day of peace - The birth of Christ!" How unrealistic it sounds in today's world when there are wars and killing in every corner of the planet, when horrible explosions each day in global metropolises take their toll of innocent victims, when peoples kill each other without mercy, when brothers work to crush each other...
"We, the Orthodox Serbs still living and surviving in Kosovo and Metohija, and our brothers who five years ago were forced to leave their centuries-old homes, properties, holy shrines, the graves of their dearest ones are especially aware of this feeling of the absence of peace," said Bishop Artemije (Radosavljevic) of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija in his Christmas message to the faithful in Kosovo and Metohija. At the same time, the Bishop reminded that "Christ by his birth began to distribute the water of life and calls us to salvation toward which we should advance withfaith, hope and love."
HARRI HOLKERI AT DECANI AND PEC PATRIARCHATE MONASTERIES FOR CHRISTMAS
Holkeri - the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for
Kosovo took part in Orthodox Christmas festivities at Decani Monastery,
January 7, 2004
Artemije Appeals to Holkeri to stop harassment of Serbs and the Church
Bishop Artemije, Serbia wasted its opportunities in XX century
exclusive Christmas interview of Bishop Artemije to the "Danas" daily, Belgrade
Even though Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija have already lived for four and a half years since the introduction of an international protectorate "without safety, freedom of movement, the right to work, exposed to attacks, robbery and murder", Bishop Artemije says that they "await the holiday of the Nativity of Christ with joy".
Thousands of holy icons and books perished in Serbian Orthodox churches
desecrated by ethnic Albanian extremists in Kosovo since June 1999 (photo: ERPKiM)
latest "Christmas gift"
"The spectacle I found was horrible," the Pristina parish priest told the ERP KIM Info Service. "The vandals had scattered the holy chalice, the Holy Scriptures, the candle holders and icons on the floor of the church. After a detailed examination, I discovered that two silver candle holders were missing from the holy altar table, one icon lamp and all the money from sold candles and donations," said Fr. Miroslav.
Standards and Not-so-hidden Aid Agenda, by Henry Braesal
Bishop Artemije: I would not like to see a repeat of 2003
We believe that what is impossible for men is not impossible for God. If both sides are wise, a solution will be found so we can all continue living in Kosovo and Metohija together and side by side, as we have done for centuries. However, an attempt and desire by either side to force the other out of Kosovo will end in failure, said Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija in an interview for Radio Free Europe - Radio Liberty.
Artemije Addressed chiefs of diplomatic missions and KFOR authorities
Newsletter 5 January, 2004 (full text with Bishop's letter)
When Universities Become Tools in the Battle against Christian churches
While magnificent churches and chapels stand next to the oldest European universities, the Albanian University in Pristina continues its mad campaign with the goal of removing the Church of Christ the Savior, or usurping it for the alleged purposes of the University. If something like this were to occur in Saudi Arabia or some other country under Sharia law, I would not be that surprised. But alas, it is happening in the very heart of Europe, in a land where the Christian faith was sown two thousand years ago, and on the very eve of the Christmas holidays.... (Full text of the letter)
Bishop Artemije issues an open letter to the Serbian people and the international community
In today's edition we are publishing the open letter written by Bishop Artemije, the Serbian Orthodox bishop of Kosovo and Raska regions, in which he strongly condemned the most recent attempt of the Pristina Municipality led by Mr. Ismet Beciri to usurp the legal church property with the cathedral of Christ the Savior in the centre of Pristina. Last year on January 20, 2003, the University of Pristina (in which there are no Serb students and professors) and the Ministry of Education launched a media campaign to remove the Church of Christ the Savior from the city center and it was only after severe protests of the Church that the issue was covered up by silence, however not for a long time.
The latest decision of the Municipal Assembly on December 30, 2003 was again initiated by the same institutions who continue their rabid campaign against the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral claiming that it was illegally built on the alleged University grounds. However, the Church possesses the documentation which proves that the land parcel had never belonged to the University and that the license for building the church in 1991 was quite legally obtained from Pristina municipal authorities of that time.
The Church and the Serbian community rather see the true reasons of this campaign in the attempt of certain Kosovo Albanian nationalist circles close to the University, Albanian Institute and the Ministry of Education to remove the last remaining symbol of Christianity and Serbian culture from the center of almost completely Albanized city, in which beside dozens of mosques only three churches remain at the moment (two Orthodox and one Roman Catholic).
The Orthodox Church authorities cannot but also perceive militant Islamic ideology behind this aggressive policy. The main Bishop's claim is that if Kosovo intends to get closer to Europe its leaders cannot build the society and develop their culture on the ruins of Christian churches and promoting only Islamic Albanian values. Nevertheless, since the end of the separatist conflict in 1999. more than 100 Serbian Orthodox churches have been destroyed or damaged by ethnic Albanian extremists who enjoyed either direct or tacit support of Kosovo's "intelligentsia", particularly the media.
Although the UNMIK authorities suspended the decision of the Pristina Municipal Assembly it is still expected from the UNMIK's chief Harri Holkeri to issue an executive order which will proclaim it null and void. Serbian Orthodox Church quite reasonably remains concerned for the future of its church property and shrines because UNMIK intends to continue transfer of competencies to Kosovo institutions during 2004. These institutions are under majority domination of Kosovo Albanian deputies and Serbs who participate in them do not have effective mechanisms at their disposal to prevent adopting of ethnically discriminating decisions, except to request UNMIK's final intervention, which in legal respect remains temporary.
The Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church is alerted by Bishop Artemije to issue additional public appeals and protests to the leading international organizations and Governments of the "Quint". The Church is also planning to take other legal measures against the serious abuses of the Pristina Municipality, University of Pristina and the Ministry of Education which constantly generate ethnic hatred against Serbs and their culture and thus poison Kosovo Albanian youth in the Province. Such scandalous institutional abuses and repression cannot remain unsanctioned, the Church hierarchs believe.
In any case the campaign against the Church, which reminds us of the communist days, has seriously worsened interethnic relations and represents a serious setback in establishing mutual understanding and confidence between communities. It is also diametrically opposite to the newly proclaimed "Standards for Kosovo", which have already being violated by Kosovo Albanian institutions at all levels.
Fr. Sava Janjic
War against the Church continues in Christmas season!
Attempted usurpation of the Church property in Pristina on the initiative of the University and Ministry of Education
Serbian Orthodox Church strongly condemned the decision by the Municipal Assembly of Pristina dated December 30, 2003 to abolish its legitimate property rights over the land parcel in the center of the city on which the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior is built. The illegal decision of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina was brought on the innitiative of the Pristina University and the Ministry of Education which hold the banner of anti-Christian campaign in Kosovo by promotion of falsified history and anti-Serbian sentiments among Albanian youth. The Church welcomed the decisive response of UNMIK authorities who immediately suspended the municipal decision and expects the UNMIK chief to abrogate the suspended decision by his executive order. The Serbian Orthodox Church plans to lodge official complaints to the international organizations for human and religious rights and the Governments of the leading countries contributing to the Kosovo peace mission.
usurpation of the Church property in Pristina
Center requests protection for Serbian Orthodox property