For immediate release
CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ITALIAN ARMY VISITED VISOKI DECANI MONASTERY
Decani September 19, 2001
The Chief of Staff of the Italian Army Lt. Gen Gianfranco OTTOGALLI has visited today Visoki Decani Monastery as a part of his visit to the MNB West. Gen. Ottogalli and other members of the high-ranking Italian delegation were received by the deputy abbot of the Monastery Fr. Sava (Janjic) who informed the Italian General about the situation in which the Serbian Orthodox Church and its faithfull live today in this part of Kosovo and Metohia Region. Together with Gen. Ottogalli, Gen. Lops, Commander of the MNB West attended the meeting.
Gen. Ottogalli reaffirmed the strong committment of the Italian Army to continue protecting the Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches, which he considers "the landmarks of the European civilization and culture in this part of the world". Fr. Sava told the General that despite the deployment of the international peace-keeping forces more than 100 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed and desecrated in Kosovo after the war by Kosovo Albanian extremists. Even two years after the end of the military conflict the Serbs as well as other non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohia are exposed to open discrimination and violence perpertrated by still active elements of the former Kosovo Liberation Army and other terrorist groups. Fr. Sava also expressed the firm position that terrorism remains the gravest danger for the entire civilized world and must be opposed in Kosovo with full determination. "Albanian extremists would turn this beautiful church into a heap of ruins if your soldiers were not here", Fr. Sava pointed out.
Fr. Sava expressed his gratitude to the Italian General saying that twice in the last 100 years Italian army saved Decani Monastery from Albanian extremists: first in WW2, when Italian soldiers prevented the destruction of the monastery by Albanian nationalists and now after the recent Kosovo conflict.
Twenty days ago the Monastery was visited by the COMKFOR gen. SKIAKER who strongly supported the Monastery as "the symbol of humanity and resistance against the violence." ( http://www.kforonline.com/news/releases/nrel_30aug01.htm )