SRSG Micheale Steiner Visited Decani Monastery
and talked to Bishop Artemije, Apr. 16, 2002

Michael Steiner with Bishop Artemije and Abbot Teodosije
during his visit to Decani Monastery, Apr. 16, 2002





Decani, 16 April 2002

Today UNMIK head Mr. Michael Steiner and his associates visited Visoki Decani Monastery and spoke with Bishop Artemije and representatives of the monastery regarding the living conditions of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija.

During the course of the hour-long discussion held in the monastery library, Bishop Artemije stressed that two fundamental priorities exist for the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija: an improvement in living conditions for the remaining Serb people in the Province and the return of temporarily displaced Serbs to their homes. Without the realization of the former, it is impossible to achieve success in the return of our expelled population, emphasized Bishop Artemije, appealing to Mr. Steiner to do everything within his power to create conditions for a democratic and multiethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija. The situation has not improved significantly for the Serbs since the war and attacks are practically continuing on an everyday basis, said Bishop Artemije with regret, pointing out that the best way of contributing to the resolution of this situation is the development of multiethnic institutions within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, as well as the implementation of the Haekkerup-Covic agreement concluded last year.

The abbot of Decani Monastery, Father Teodosije, spoke about the isolation of the Serb enclaves in Metohija, especially of our monasteries, which have for the past three years been under a kind of siege, and Protosindjel Sava stressed that it is difficult to expect the integration of the Serbs into a society which has an exclusively Albanian ethnic character and which is essentially lacks room for free and equal life by other ethnic communities.

In response to Bishop Artemije’s comments Mr. Steiner stressed that the best way of improving the position of the Serb population is their participation in newly created structures, especially the Kosovo Government. It is essential to accept responsibility and work on improving conditions as quickly as possible, said Mr. Steiner. In this manner the Serbs themselves will participate in creating conditions for the return of the displaced. Mr. Steiner expressed satisfaction that the Serbs were ready to participate in the Kosovo government, emphasizing that by doing so finally all the necessary factors will be in place to contribute to the return of the displaced Serb population. Mr. Steiner expressed special concern because of the existence of destructive elements who do not wish well for their communities and behind whose deeds hide personal interests, not the interests of the people. He asked Bishop Artemije to use his personal influence on other Serb leaders in order to constructively join the work of Kosovo institutions and thus assist the survival of their people in the best way.

Mr. Steiner emphasized that the protection of cultural monuments, especially monasteries, was a priority for UNMIK and expressed the hope that the day will soon come when monasteries will not need to be protected by soldiers because all communities will feel a common responsibility for the protection of cultural treasures. In conclusion Mr. Steiner agreed with the view that the integration of communities in Kosovo can be achieved only on an equal basis in mutual respect for the identity of every ethic group. This is the only model for entry into Europe, concluded Mr. Steiner.

Following the discussion and luncheon in the monastery refectory Mr. Steiner and his associates toured the church and visited the icon painting and wood working workshop of Visoki Decani Monastery.

The Information Service of the
Diocese of Raska and Prizren

(photos courtesy of UNMIK, photographer Afrim Harullahu)

Fr. Sava meeting Mr. Steiner and Marguerite Roy (UNMIK Regional Administrator)

At the lunch in the monastery refectory

Fr. Sava showning the church and frescoes to Mr. Steiner