PATRIARCH PAVLE APPEALS TO UN SECRETARY GENERAL ON BEHALF OF MATEJCE MONASTERY

Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church
July 3, 2001

Patriarch Pavle

PATRIARCH PAVLE APPEALS
FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE MATEJCE MONASTERY

His Holiness Pavle, Serbian Patriarch, sent an appeal today to Mr Kofi Anan - UN Secretary General, Mr Koiciro Matsura - UNESCO Secretary General, Mr George Robertson - NATO Secretary General, then to the most responsible politicians of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and to Prime Minister of the Macedonian Government, requiring protection of the medieval Monastery of Matejce, near Kumanovo, which has been endangered by Kosovo Albanian terrorists.

The appeal reads:

Serbian Orthodox Church has been constantly sending appeals to world officials and expert organisations in the past two years, demanding protection of its shrines in Kosovo and Metochia. Unfortunately, since June 1999 till present, more than 100 churches have been destroyed in this region, many of which date from Middle Ages and belong to world cultural heritage.

We also timely warned - this year, in February -the presidents of the most influential world states that terrorism, one of the worst evils of the modern world, had been gushing from Kosovo and Metochia (the region where thousands of soldiers and policemen engaged by UN are located) into the neighbouring areas populated by the Albanian minority. Unfortunately, tragic scenes of afflictions of the innocent repeat once again, this time in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Criminals and terrorists target not only the people who defend their family hearths, but also Orthodox Christian shrines.

It is the Monastery of Matejce, dedicated to the event of Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God and situated in the namesake village west of Kumanovo, that is currently most threatened Orthodox shrine. Serbian Emperor Dusan started building this Monastery, and Empress Jelena and their son, Serbian Emperor Uros, completed it in 1355. The church architecture and the preserved parts of fresco paintings which exhibit events from the lives of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Mother of God, as well as other great Biblical events and the genealogy of the Serbian rulers' dynasty - the Nemanych family (the establishers of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian state), convincingly testify that the culture nourished by our people at the time equalled the one nourished by peoples of Western Europe, which is even now rated as the peak of Europe's art achievements.

That priceless treasure has been currently usurped by Albanian terrorist, who made it a base for their training and a storage place for their murdering weapon. There exists a reasonable possibility that this great Orthodox shrine could be mined inside or bombed from outside during some clash between Macedonian Army and Albanian terrorists, meaning that it could easily destroyed in any way.

In order to avoid this, We earnestly ask You to do Your utmost and act decisively and preserve the Monastery of Matejce from destruction, wherefrom it was spared even during the period of the Ottoman rule which lasted for several centuries.


Monastery of Matejce built by Serbian Emperor Dusan the Mighty (14th) century

REPLY OF KOFI ANAN
UN SECRETARY GENERAL

Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church
August 8, 2001

REPLY OF SECRETARY GENERAL OF NATO TO SERBIAN PATRIARCH
REGARDING THE PROTECTION OF THE MATEJCE MONASTERY,
NEAR KUMANOVO

On June 27 His Holiness Pavle, Serbian Patriarch, sent an appeal to Mr Kofi Anan - UN Secretary General, Mr Koiciro Matsura - UNESCO Secretary General, and Mr George Robertson - NATO Secretary General, requiring protection of the medieval Monastery of Matejce, near Kumanovo.

The appeal reads:

"Serbian Orthodox Church has been constantly sending appeals to world officials and expert organisations in the past two years, demanding protection of its shrines in Kosovo and Metochia. Unfortunately, since June 1999 till present, more than 100 churches have been destroyed in this region, many of which date from Middle Ages and belong to world cultural heritage.

We also timely warned - this year, in February -the presidents of the most influential world states that terrorism, one of the worst evils of the modern world, had been gushing from Kosovo and Metochia (the region where thousands of soldiers and policemen engaged by UN are located) into the neighbouring areas populated by the Albanian minority. Unfortunately, tragic scenes of afflictions of the innocent repeat once again, this time in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Criminals and terrorists target not only the people who defend their family hearths, but also Orthodox Christian shrines.

It is the Monastery of Matejce, dedicated to the event of Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God and situated in the namesake village west of Kumanovo, that is currently most threatened Orthodox shrine. Serbian Emperor Dusan started building this Monastery, and Empress Jelena and their son, Serbian Emperor Uros, completed it in 1355. The church architecture and the preserved parts of fresco paintings which exhibit events from the lives of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Mother of God, as well as other great Biblical events and the genealogy of the Serbian rulers' dynasty - the Nemanych family (the establishers of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian state), convincingly testify that the culture nourished by our people at the time equalled the one nourished by peoples of Western Europe, which is even now rated as the peak of Europe's art achievements.

That priceless treasure has been currently usurped by Albanian terrorist, who made it a base for their training and a storage place for their murdering weapon. There exists a reasonable possibility that this great Orthodox shrine could be mined inside or bombed from outside during some clash between Macedonian Army and Albanian terrorists, meaning that it could easily destroyed in any way.

In order to avoid this, We earnestly ask You to do Your utmost and act decisively and preserve the Monastery of Matejce from destruction, wherefrom it was spared even during the period of the Ottoman rule which lasted for several centuries."

Mr George Robertson, NATO's Secretary General was the first to answer this letter. His reply reads:

"Thank you for your letter of 27 June 2001, on the situation at the Monastery of Matejche in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

NATO attaches importance to the preservation of heritage and religious sites of all European cultures, and will continue to make specific efforts to ensure the safety of Serb monuments in Kosovo, where it has specific responsibilities in this regard. NATO does not have a mandate with similar responsibilities within the territory of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

However, I would like to inform you that my personal representative, Mr Pieter Feith, visited Matejche on 13 July. He found the village heavily damaged as a result of heavy fighting between ethnic Albanian armed groups and government forces early in June. Fortunately, however, the Orthodox Church has escaped unscathed, as far as the outer structure is concerned. However, all the interior belongings appear either to have been removed or set on fire.

I have forwarded your letter to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Skopje, Ambassador Eiff. He will no doubt discuss your request with government authorities as he continues his consultations about the establishment of a durable ceasefire and a political settlement to the current crisis."


DESECRATION OF MATEJCE MONASTERY