Friday, January 11, 2008

BSA: Bishop ARTEMIJE -- Kosovo-Metohija Cannot Become “Independent”, Only Occupied

Interview Raska-Prizren Bishop ARTEMIJE gave to Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias. His Grace was interviewed by Carlos Santos Pereira.

After the failure of the troika led negotiations do you still see any hope of dialogue and any form of compromise solution between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo?

Yes, of course, on condition that there is a will on all three sides to find a solution which is based on compromise. This will has been lacking thus far and, consequently, no positive results could be achieved. The lion’s share of responsibility for the failure of “negotiations” to date must be laid at the door of the international community (US the EU) which had promised independence to the Kosovo and Metohija Albanians even before the beginning of any negotiations. Consequently, the Albanians were not willing to consider any compromise solution and kept insisting only on independence, which the Serbs could not, nor will ever be able to accept.

Serbia is Not For War, but For Defense of Her Entire Territory

We hear growing warnings of the danger of violence and even war in Kosovo. How would you evaluate the potential of violence in Kosovo in the coming days and weeks? Do you believe the eventual secession of Serb Mitrovica could ignite the situation in Kosovo?

Everything that might happen in Kosovo and Metohija in the coming days and weeks, including the escalation of violence, will depend on the international community (US and EU), just as everything that has been happening here in the past eight years did.

Too put it simply, Kosovo Albanians are waiting for the “green light” from their masters in the West. You have mentioned “even war" in Kosovo. We can say with certainty that Serbia is not for war, but she is for the defense of her territory, of her rights, as these are recognized in international documents, and for the defense of the sovereignty of her entire territory, regardless who threatens it.

Is there anything strange in this? Which country in the world would act differently if someone tried to rob her of part of its territory?

There is something unclear in your question about “a possible secession of Srpska Mitrovica,” as you say. Secession from what? The question is meaningless. In view of the fact that the whole Province of Kosovo and Metohija, not only Srpska Mitrovica, belongs to Serbia. Consequently, any “situation” and instability in Kosovo and Metohija and in the entire region can be initiated only by the Muslim Albanian elements from Kosovo and Metohija and elsewhere and by their western mentors.

Muslim Albanians were Always Using Foreign Powers to Persecute Serbs and Other Non-Albanians

You have been campaigning since long for a dialogue and a different approach to the Kosovo question and for a true dialogue between Serbs and Albanians. Did you ever perceived any hint of a possible positive answer from the Albanian side? And from the ‘international community’?

Unfortunately, no. From certain individuals in the international community? Yes. But they are not decision-making factors.

Belgrade (and mainly Milosevic’s) policy in Kosovo over the years have been very much blamed for Kosovo tragedy. But officials in Belgrade repeat that whenever Kosovo was given a substantial autonomy the result was always abuse of power, discrimination of non Albanians and feeding separatist aims. Looking back, how would you evaluate the last, say, 25 years in Kosovo? Could it have been different?

We do not assess last 25 years in Kosovo. We view them as we view last five centuries. It has always been the same! Every foreign occupation, be it on the part of the Turks, the Italians, or NATO, and every encouragement from the powers that be, as for instance from communist authorities in the past 50 years, Muslim Albanians have used to persecute Christian Serbs and other non-Albanians, such as Romany, Aškali, Egyptians, Gorani and others. Our history is replete with examples of it. This was particularly true during the world wars in the 20th century. However, this persecution was never as ferocious as in the past nine years under the UN Protectorate. There are innumerable examples testifying to this fact. Of course, the course of events could have been different, but it did not depend on us.

There is No “Kosovo Problem”, Only a Question of Albanian Minority in Serbia

Violent dissolution of Yugoslavia was a paramount case of an avoidable war. And what about Kosovo? Do you have the feeling that at some point, somewhere, there was some crucial opportunity lost?

Yugoslavia was created in 1918 by the will of great western powers, and it was dismantled in 1991 again by their wishes. Both the creation and the destruction of this entity were done to satisfy western interests. The price of this exercise was paid mostly by the Serbian people. And now your question is “What about Kosovo?” The question, or the problem, of Kosovo does not exist. Kosovo is where it has been since the 12th century—within the body of the Serbian state. All international agreements, charters, resolutions bear witness to that fact.

The problem is the question of the Albanian minority in Serbia, the minority which is supported by foreign powers, not out of love but for their own purposes, and again to the detriment of the Serbian people. The remedy for this “problem” lies in the international law. Neither more nor less.

Serbs Demonized for So Long, they Dare Not Raise their Voices

Few would doubt Krajina was abandoned (some say ‘betrayed’) by Belgrade leadership. Do you have the same feeling about Kosovo?

Yes, it would seem to me that the scriptwriters are the same, and they are the western powers. The same actors played key roles in the Serbian Krajina, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and also in Kosovo and Metohija. Unfortunately, Belgrade was frequently manipulated and therefore contributed to it.

Gracanica Monastery
The Dawn of Christmas 2007: Serbian Orthodox Gracanica Monastery, built by St. King Milutin in 1321, Kosovo-Metohija, Serbia



















Once the future status of Kosovo is being discussed it would seem logical, in the name of the same historic, political and humanitarian principles, to raise the question of Krajina. But what we see is an absolute silence – even from the Serbian side. Do you see any explanation for this silence?

It is clear that we are dealing here with the double standards of the international community which considers only its own interests. This “silence” even from the Serbian side is difficult to explain. Perhaps the reason is that the Serbian people have been demonized for so long that it has now become the “designated culprit” for all crimes committed on the territory of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and dare not raise its voice even when it is in the right.

Kosovo-Metohija Serbs are not Merely “Leaving” — They are being Systematically Ethnically Cleansed

Serbs in Kosovo often accuse KFOR troops of not doing enough to protect them – and even of a certain degree complicity in the ethnic cleansing of the territory in the first years after NATO occupation. Would you share this perception?

Unfortunately, I cannot disagree with the facts which confirm the validity of this perception and have done so for the past eight years. Evidence cannot be denied.

Serbs have all the reasons to fear for their future in an independent Kosovo. But if the remaining Serb population leaves the province Kosovo will be probably lost forever. How do you see this dilemma?

The question is not about the Serbian population “leaving” Kosovo. The question is about the persecution of the Serbs and about the completion of the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo which can happen only with the permission of the high and mighty of the West. We see it as a possible new crime against Kosovo and Metohija for which the West will be solely responsible before God and before history.

Western “Guarantees” the Peak of Cynicism

Looking to the recent past, how would you evaluate the ‘guarantees’ both Albanian leadership and ‘international community’ are offering to the remaining Serb population in an eventually independent Kosovo? Which are the minimum security conditions to convince the Serbs not to leave?

We assess and perceive these “guarantees” as the peak of cynicism. We do so based on the experience we have had with the promises and guarantees given in the course of past eight years, none of which have been fulfilled. We believe that the Serbs will stay and subsist in their homes, as they have done through the centuries, but they will never recognize the independence of Kosovo, nor will they accept it.

Some fear an eventual Kosovo independence will have devastating effects on the stability of neighboring areas like Macedonia, eventually Montenegro or even part of Serbia (Presevo, in particular) How would you evaluate this danger?

We see it as a real danger. That conflagration could easily reach another 10-15 regions in many countries of Europe and beyond.

Kosovo Province will Never Become Albanian State

Church has been an important stronghold of Serb identity in Kosovo. How do you see the future of Orthodox Church in the province becomes an independent Albanian state?

Normally I do not answer hypothetical questions. Kosovo and Metohija will never become an Albanian state. Kosovo may be under a sort of occupation for a time. Haven’t we seen quite a few of those in our history? The Serbian Orthodox Church will remain with her people, as she has been with it throughout our past.

Eventual Kosovo independence will not erase centuries of history in Kosovo. Looking from the Serb side, do you still see any hope for the future?

Our hope is in God and in God’s justice. Or in the words of the great Serbian poet Njegoš:
“It is not right to hope in anyone
Except in God and oneself alone.”

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