between two policies entrenched in the nineteenth century Kosovo Serbs
have become hostages of an unscrupulous policy on one hand and targets
of a militant nationalism on the other”.
VREME: Can this project be understood as an introduction to the final division of the province?
FR SAVA: This proposal
is by no means an introduction for a division because our Church is
openly opposed to such an idea which could cause a great movement of
population. But we also cannot accept the complete extraction of Kosovo
and Metohija from Serbia because it could bring our people to the position
of ethnic minority and result in a mass exodus of our people from the
province. The Serbs lived in similar situation prior to 1989. The cantonisation
proposal is, I must say, an emergency solution because the international
community has already accepted an ethnic approach to this problem. We
have already proposed regionalisation of Serbia and Montenegro based
on contemporary democratic solutions in some other European countries
but the present draft version of the peace agreement for Kosovo is primarily
based on the idea to grant the Albanian population full self-rule. In
order to prevent majorization over the Serb and other non-Albanian population
it is necessary to grant the them an ability to secure an institutional
link with republic of Serbia through their ethnic cantons, since this
link would otherwise be only formal according to the current international
proposals. Therefore, the main goal of the cantonization is the establishment
of additional guarantees for the survival of our people here. Supporting
this idea we do not want at least to restrict the rights which Kosovo
Albanians and other national communities deserve. We believe if there
is true development of democracy in Kosovo and Serbia this cantonization
model may be replaced by a solution which would reflect more the ideas
of civic society in which the most important factor would not be ethnicity
but a citizen. The cities of Kosovo with multiethnic rule might be a
pledge for such a future. The crucial problem remain rural areas in
which Kosovo Serbs do not believe that they may have full security without
their own administration and closer institutional links with Republic
VREME: What are the reactions on this proposal from the Serb and ethnic Albanian political circles?
FR SAVA: Unfortunately, we do not have any official reactions of our government to this plan. Unofficially, some Kosovo Albanian policy makers have reacted with scepticism. Mr. Blerim Shala, for instance, thinks that this project will result in division of the province. On the other hand we have support from our people who are afraid for their existence. This proposal was received with lot of interest in Europe and US as well.
VREME: Last week Bishop Artemije, Mr. Trajkovic and you were in Paris, Rambouillet and United States. What are the results of your mission?
FR SAVA: Having in mind the number and importance of the meetings we had in France and US, the visit or our delegation was successful. With regret, I must admit that everywhere in the world the doors are opened for us except in Belgrade. We had to travel in order to make our voice heard.
Especially, I would mention our meeting with the US State Secretary Madeleine Albright in State Department. In this meeting we could express on the highest level our concerns for the fate of our people and monuments as well as to make some proposals how the problems in Kosovo and Metohija could be better resolved. Our main goal was to point out once again on the burning issue of the survival of the Serbs in this territory. We have supported the talks at Rambouillet chateau but have also indicated that the current plan has certain deficiencies which could be improved if our proposal for cantonization were accepted in a form of an amendment to the present agreement.
VREME: Could you tell us what are the main issues in which you and Bishop Artemije do not agree with the Belgrade government? Both Milosevic and Milutinovic have refused to receive you recently?
FR SAVA: I dare say that the essence of our misunderstanding with the Belgrade regime is the fact that we care more about our people while they seem to care more about their political interests. Several years ago we said that their policy towards Kosovo and Metohija was wrong and that it would inevitably lead to bloodshed, what happened eventually. We insisted that the process of democratisation should start as soon as possible with a major reorientation towards Europe and acceptance of basic norms of contemporary European societies. In that way the separatist movement in Kosovo would have been isolated in time and would not have had a support of the majority of Albanian population as well as the sympathies of the international community. For years the policy of Belgrade towards Kosovo was based on unrealistic ideas and repression which only strengthened the separatist feelings.
However, our ruling regime is obsessed how to preserve its political power and therefore the issue of Kosovo was neglected which enabled the ethnic Albanians to organise their para-state and their extremists to import great quantities of weapons into the country. Instead of pursuing true democracy our country is isolated, state media air daily hysteric xenophobia, the rights of the University are seriously violated, the international investments in the country are at stake. All this is dragging us away from the world and makes us a black hole of Europe.
are many and are hardly reparable. Due to absence of true democracy
and excessive use of power by the security forces the insurgency of
the Albanian separatists earned certain legitimacy before the world
as freedom fighting. But we know that separatist ideas existed much
before Mr. Milosevic and are at least a century old. As a result of
that separatism hundreds thousands of Serbs had to leave Kosovo in this
century. Today it is openly said that a kind of military protectorate
should be established in Kosovo because our country has failed to find
a peaceful and democratic settlement. We are aware that the reason for
that is not only our government but also the Albanian extremists who
have refused any compromise so far. But the Albanian arguments in front
of the world are more convincing at the moment, especially after so
many refugees and material damage. Our government could make now a decisive
step – secure the existence of our population by cantonization and immediately
begin serious process of democratisation. But the ears of Belgrade are
still deaf for the voice of Bishop Artemije.
VREME: You and your Bishop have recently been the target of open verbal attacks by Mr. Seselj who accused you as spies and traitors.
FR SAVA: Mr. Seselj is a politician without any serious credibility and we do not take his slanders seriously. Everywhere where Mr. Seselj defended the Serbian cause our people do not live any longer. That is our strongest argument. The Holy Scripture says that every tree is recognised by its fruit. Mr. Seselj has openly showed that he has no respect for our Church and that his voice is not the voice of the people but of a minority in our people who present our national interests in extremely arrogant and vulgar way.
VREME: You are sometimes called “Cybermonk” in media circles. Are you offended by such a nickname?
FR SAVA: I think
that my work with computers is not incongruent my monastic life. They
help me in my missionary work and in my attempts to help my people.
These are just machines and it is only important how and what for we