SRSG Michael Steiner with Bishop Artemije and Abbot Teodosije
Decani Monastery, March 2002



H.E. Micheal Steiner
Special Representative of the UN
Secretary General for Kosovo
UNMIK, Priština

Gracanica, July 20, 2002

Dear Mr. Steiner,

Two months ago, upon the agreement with the chief of the U.S office in Pristina, Amb. Menzies and the chief of the German office, Mr. Schmunk, I visited Zociste Monastery near Orahovac with Mr. Rexhepi and Mr. Thaci in order to see at the spot possibilities for the reconstruction of this holy site destroyed after the war. My firm conviction was that both Mr. Menzies and Schmunk as well as K/Albanian leaders supported the idea and expressed readiness to give their own financial contribution in rebuilding of this monastery.

On July 14th I served the first post-war holy Mass in Zociste with my priests and congregation. Regrettably, after the service, which was constantly disturbed by local K/Albanians, the remaining buildings of the monastery were set on fire because the monastery was not under KFOR protection after we left. I met yesterday with Brigadier General Skodowski and we tried to clear out some misunderstandings which occurred due to lack of coordination. Nevertheless, we have not found his support and readiness to carry on the reconstruction of the monastery. We simply cannot understand that KFOR is not capable (or willing?) to assist and secure a reconstruction of at least one Orthodox holy site three years after the war. At the same time in this period all mosques damaged in the war have been repaired and even many new constructed. For such a position there cannot be any legitimate explanation and we cannot accept the position of the KFOR as final.

Rebuilding of monasteries is one of the most crucial steps in bringing our IDP’s back to Kosovo and Metohija because Serbs always gathered there where their holy sites were. Therefore we plan to pursue with all our energy not only reconstruction of Zociste monastery, but of other monasteries and churches as well. We strongly believe that this is our undeniable right which is granted by all international human rights charters and the UNSCR 1244.

That is why we count on your assistance and the KFOR support in this issue. We kindly ask you to explore the possibilities how we can continue this action without further delay and finally, after three years begin creating basic conditions for normal life of all communities. Opposition of K/Albanian local leaders is not a legitimate obstacle and it should not be tolerated. If we keep waiting for changing of their mind not a single Serb returnee would come back to Kosovo in 1000 years. Kosovo’s democracy has to be built with strong determination and not simulated with too lenient position towards those who do not want true peace and mulitethnicity.

I sincerely count on your support and understanding.

+ Artemije
Bishop of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

Related texts:
Events in Zociste Monastery and problems with its reconstruction

Destroyed Heritage
More than 100 churches have been destroyed by Moslem Kosovo Albanian militants since Nato led international peacekeeping troops arrived to Kosovo and Metohija. Churches which survived centuries are being devastated amidst the XXI century Europe

The church of the Holy Virgin in Musutiste, nr. Suva Reka was built in 1315 and was destroyed in 1999

The monastery of St. Mark near Prizren was built in 1417 and was destroyed in 1999

The church of St. Nicholas in Slovinje was built in the 16th century and was destroyed in 1999


Destroyed holy sites are even more holier to Orthodox Christians
Serb women praying in the desecrated church of St. Gabriel at Osojane
July 21, 2002