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Fwd: Inteview with Bishop Artemije

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  • Fr. John Whiteford
    ... ===== *********************************************************** * Fr. John Whiteford IC -|- XC * *
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1 4:02 PM
      > http://www.decani.yunet.com/glaskim_art.html
      > March 7, 2002
      > Your Grace, the one hundredth issue of "The Herald
      > of Kosovo and
      > Metohija" will soon be published. It began to come
      > out at the time of
      > the horrible expulsion of our people when few people
      > knew what was
      > happening in Kosovo and Metohija. We began working
      > at the time when a
      > quarter of a million Serbs and other non-Albanians
      > left their
      > centuries-old homes. Those of us who knew the true
      > state of affairs and
      > the actual scale of these events mourned because of
      > them. Two and a half
      > years later, things seem to have hardly changed for
      > the better. Various
      > domestic and international NGO's are working on the
      > return of displaced
      > persons. But what to do and what to undertake to
      > create a realistic
      > strategy for refugee returns?
      > The hundredth issue of a newspaper or magazine
      > represents a very humble
      > anniversary. So it is with our bulletin, "The Herald
      > of Kosovo and
      > Metohija", which has been coming out for the past
      > two years. It was
      > started in the most difficult of times for the Serb
      > people, after the
      > ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and Metohija of its
      > Serbs, after great
      > crimes, kidnappings, murders, the destruction of
      > churches. Since
      > Slobodan Milosevic's regime was still in power in
      > Belgrade and in
      > control of all state and public media at that time,
      > the truth about
      > Kosovo and Metohija reached neither the hearts nor
      > the ears of our
      > people. This is why we felt the need to initiate our
      > bulletin, which
      > began with a small circulation of 2,000 copies, grew
      > to 3,000 and now to
      > 5,000 copies. Its purpose was to regularly inform
      > and present facts and
      > the truth regarding what is happening in Kosovo.
      > The one hundred issues of this paper truly reflect
      > the actual conditions
      > of the lives of the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija
      > during the past two and
      > one-half years, as well as everything else that has
      > happened in the
      > meanwhile. Regular readers gained true insight and
      > an accurate picture
      > not only of the events themselves but also of the
      > causes of our defeat,
      > our tragedy in Kosovo and Metohija.
      > However, what those of us who remained to live in
      > Kosovo and Metohija
      > find interesting and what absorbs all of our
      > attention is the issue of
      > the return of expelled persons to Kosovo and
      > Metohija. There is no
      > doubt, when this issue is raised, the first thing to
      > be mentioned are
      > the conditions that need to be created in order to
      > make these returns
      > possible. Despite all the pressures and crimes which
      > we have endured on
      > our own skins, I personally believe that the first
      > thing that should be
      > done is to improve the living and working conditions
      > of the Serbs still
      > remaining in Kosovo and Metohija because whether the
      > expelled will want
      > to return will depend on this. If they are getting
      > reports from Kosovo
      > and Metohija every day that the Serbs there are
      > under constant attack,
      > that bombs are being thrown at their houses and
      > shops, at their children
      > in the playgrounds, that murders continue to occur,
      > that churches and
      > monasteries continue to be destroyed, very few
      > people will be inspired
      > to come back and live under these conditions.
      > Therefore, the
      > international community, our state and all the
      > NGO's, international and
      > domestic, need to devote their primary concern to
      > creating the necessary
      > conditions and normalizing the lives of the
      > remaining Serbs in Kosovo
      > and Metohija. When conditions improve, those who
      > were expelled will want
      > to return to their homes. Of course, necessary
      > conditions for those
      > returning need to be provided also - the repair of
      > their destroyed or
      > damaged homes, village infrastructure, employment
      > opportunities, the
      > opening of schools and hospitals...
      > Those of us who work in Kosovo and Metohija and the
      > NGO "The Herald of
      > Kosovo and Metohija" are not able to carry out the
      > enormous task of
      > bringing back our people by ourselves. That is why
      > it is necessary for
      > our state, the highest institution of our people,
      > not just the NGO's, to
      > get involved and invest itself in this problem and
      > to try to work on it
      > in its contacts with the international community.
      > Thank God, these
      > contacts do exist and they continue to expand.
      > Because if we allow
      > another year or two to go by and people still do not
      > return, I am afraid
      > that afterwards there will be a very small number of
      > people wanting to
      > return at all.
      > The NGO "The Herald of Kosovo and Metohija"
      > organized a series of
      > lectures and literary evenings, visits to the
      > enclaves, and a large
      > exhibition of photographs dedicated to destroyed
      > shrines in Kosovo and
      > Metohija. What to undertake, how to interest and
      > convince the government
      > and officials to synchronize their activities, so
      > that the news about
      > Kosovo and Metohija does not end up on page ten on
      > the newspapers or in
      > the twenty-fifth minute of a half hour television
      > newscast?
      > If things are at the point where we are the ones who
      > need to animate the
      > state, I am afraid we will not accomplish much. I
      > believe that the state
      > should treat this is a priority, and that we are the
      > ones who are able
      > to help, to jump to its aid in activities being
      > implemented by the
      > state, so as to make its work as effective as
      > possible. We are really
      > not in a position nor do we have the means to
      > influence state officials
      > to become more engaged with respect to the issue of
      > Kosovo and Metohija
      > and, first and foremost, of Serb returns to this
      > region. The fact of the
      > matter is that the final solution of the status of
      > Kosovo will also
      > depend on how many Serbs there are in Kosovo and
      > Metohija now and how
      > many there will be when the status issue is
      > addressed. If we do not
      > think about this and work on it right now, I am
      > afraid that the future
      > will catch us unprepared and that we will not have
      > valid arguments to
      > keep Kosovo and Metohija within the framework of our
      > state of Serbia and
      > Yugoslavia. This should be the basic realization and
      > preoccupation of
      > every member of the state apparatus from the
      > Yugoslav president to the
      > Serbian president (I am not sure we still have one
      > because we have not
      > seen or heard from him in a while), the Serbian
      > prime minister, and
      > especially of those in the Coordinating Center [the
      > Coordinating Center
      > of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the
      > Republic of Yugoslavia for
      > Kosovo and Metohija headed by deputy prime minister
      > Nebojsa Covic]. This
      > is what we should be working on, what we should be
      > thinking about, in
      > addition to visiting our people who are still in
      > refugee camps and
      > scattered in various locations in Serbia to
      > encourage them to return
      > home while at the same time creating the necessary
      > preconditions so that
      > this can be realized.
      > Your Grace, "The Herald of Kosovo and Metohija" has
      > been very
      > dedicated in recording and publishing all the
      > decisions of the Serb
      > National Council [of Kosovo and Metohija]; it simply
      > served as a
      > chronicle of developments in connection with the
      > SNC. What will be the
      > fate of the SNC now that a provincial government [of
      > Kosovo] has been
      > established, including a provincial parliament and
      > other institutions
      > supported and blessed by the international
      > community?
      > Three or almost four months have passed since the
      > election and creation
      > of the parliament of Kosovo and Metohija. So far the
      > work of this
      > parliament has neither influenced nor been detected
      > in the field. The
      > Serb National Council has remained as active as it
      > has been recently,
      > concerning itself with the Serb people and their
      > needs and problems
      > throughout the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. Two
      > days ago this
      > parliament resumed its work, a president of Kosovo
      > and Metohija was
      > elected, a government of Kosovo and Metohija was
      > elected in which the
      > Serbs apparently were not included and it remains
      > highly questionable
      > what the activities of this government will be.
      > The SNC continues to carefully follow all
      > developments in Kosovo and
      > Metohija, as well as in our state of Serbia and
      > Yugoslavia. It will
      > continue to animate and coordinate all activities
      > with respect to
      > realizing the goals we have already discussed - for
      > the survival of our
      > people in Kosovo and Metohija, the return of the
      > expelled, and the
      > discovery of the fate of at least 1,300 and perhaps
      > as many as 1,500
      > Serbs who have disappeared or been kidnapped during
      > the past two and a
      > half years.
      > It remains to be seen what the work of the new
      > government of Kosovo and
      > Metohija will be like. It now faces a very important
      > test and it will
      > work under the great pressure of the international
      > community. We will
      > see how the work of this government will be
      > reflected on democratic
      > tendencies in Kosovo and Metohija, first and
      > foremost, on the position
      > of the Serb national community.
      > The previous regime did not allow and did not agree
      > with the
      > participation of the Serbs in elections for local
      > organs of government.
      > You and the Serb National Council managed to secure
      > the existence of
      > local community offices in settlements where Serbs
      > are in the majority
      > in order to defend their interests to some extent.
      > At that time, the
      > regime and others attacked you as a traitor and
      > accused you of all kinds
      > of things. However, you believed that one could not
      > confront the
      > international community, and that Serbs should
      > instead actively
      > participate and influence the unfolding of the
      > situation in Kosovo and
      > Metohija. Now new elections at the local level are
      > expected. Do you
      > think that the Serbs will participate in these
      > elections in greater
      > number? Have they recognized that isolation leads
      > nowhere?
      > I think that the Serb National Council and, first
      > and foremost, the
      > Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija, were
      > correct in
      > assessing the value of cooperation with the
      > international community
      > because without cooperation with them, the survival
      > of the Serb
      > community in Kosovo and Metohija would be absolutely
      > impossible. The
      > regime of Mr. Milosevic certainly knew this and
      > probably had the goal of
      > a Kosovo and Metohija completely cleansed of Serbs
      > so it could rub the
      > nose of the international community in it all the
      > time. However, we
      > believed that our basic national and state goal and
      > interest was for the
      > Serbs to remain and survive in Kosovo and Metohija.
      > Thank God that we were successful in this and
      > managed to retain a good
      > part of our people despite all the suffering and
      > tragedies they endured.
      > Without cooperation with the international
      > community, not only would our
      > survival here have been impossible but so would any
      > returns.
      > As far as the elections are concerned, the necessary
      > preconditions
      > really did not exist during the first local
      > elections for them to be
      > held. First of all, they were not supported by the
      > regime in Serbia at
      > the time. In the elections held in November, even
      > though the decision
      > regarding Serb participation was made relatively
      > late, even though there
      > was tremendous obstruction by certain individuals
      > and would-be leaders
      > of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija and in
      > Serbia herself, a
      > respectable number nevertheless participated and
      > this enabled the Serbs
      > to win the third largest representation in the
      > parliament. The Return
      > Coalition is the third largest party in the Kosovo
      > and Metohija
      > parliament. We believe and time will show that this
      > was a good
      > principle, that it is a good method and the only
      > possible one. I am
      > happy that events have demonstrated that the
      > position we adopted right
      > from the start has turned out to be accurate and
      > correct. Now this
      > position has been adopted by our country, too,
      > especially by the
      > Coordinating Center which was established to
      > maintain relations with the
      > international community.
      > At the next elections, and this depends also on how
      > the people will be
      > informed and instructed through the media from our
      > country of Serbia,
      > but I believe that without participation in these
      > elections we cannot
      > have significant influence over the course of events
      > in Kosovo and
      > Metohija.
      > Do you think that the expelled Serbs and others from
      > the non-Albanian
      > community living in Serbia will also be included in
      > these local
      > elections?
      > Just as they were included in the recent
      > parliamentary elections, they
      > could certainly also be included in local elections
      > because they are
      > still officially residents of the settlements where
      > they lived prior to
      > their expulsion and they should have some influence
      > there.
      > Can you comment, Your Grace, regarding the
      > activities of the Housing
      > and Property Directorate of the United Nations,
      > whose function it is to
      > assist Serbs and others from non-Albanian
      > communities, as well as
      > Albanians, to determined the current status of the
      > property of people
      > from Kosovo and Metohija. Despite the fact that the
      > NGO "The Herald of
      > Kosovo and Metohija" has been constantly included in
      > their programs, it
      > appears that interest and response among the people
      > is not adequate.
      > What can we do, what should we undertake?
      > It is a very painful realization and a fact that
      > many foreigners show
      > far greater concern for Serbs and their rights, both
      > property rights and
      > personal rights, than does our own state. For
      > example, this organization
      > under UN auspices which concerns itself with the
      > resolution of property
      > issues and the protection of property rights and
      > personal rights and is
      > active in this domain. Thank God, "The Herald of
      > Kosovo and Metohija"
      > has been active in acquainting our people with their
      > rights and
      > responsibilities - what they need to do, whom they
      > need to contact and
      > what proof they need to gather and submit to the
      > appropriate
      > institutions in order to realize their property
      > rights and the
      > protection of those rights.
      > I believe that all daily newspapers should publish
      > the announcement of
      > this international organization, that people should
      > be informed, that
      > state television should highlight this at the
      > beginning of its prime
      > time news broadcast at 7:30 p.m., that expelled
      > Serbs should be told to
      > go to such-and-such addresses to realize their
      > property rights. The
      > possibility of their return to Kosovo and Metohija
      > will depend on this
      > being done, too.
      > I really believe that the state should be involved
      > in national issues
      > and through its media, it should acquaint every
      > individual and family
      > member, first and foremost, the heads of the
      > families of Serb refugees,
      > on how they can protect their property rights in
      > Kosovo and Metohija. It
      > goes without saying that I believe that it would not
      > be good for Serbs
      > to reclaim their property for the sole purpose of
      > selling it to the
      > Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. I think that the
      > state should find a
      > mechanism to prevent the appropriation of Serb
      > property in Kosovo and
      > Metohija, its sale and the permanent exclusion of
      > Serbs from Kosovo and
      > Metohija.
      > During the interview with the bishop, the theatrical
      > actor Momir Bradic
      > arrived. The bishop kindly invited us to remain his
      > guests a little
      > longer in order to hear firsthand the impressions of
      > Mr. Bradic from his
      > trip throughout Kosovo.
      > "We visited all the schools in Gracanica and the
      > surrounding villages. I
      > gave an hour-long lesson in history and
      > spirituality; I recited the
      > Testament of Stefan Nemanja. They invited me to come
      > back again as soon
      > as possible," said Mr. Bradic.
      > "In Gracanica we visited the King Milutin
      > [Elementary] School. Only the
      > lower grades were present, the third and fourth
      > grades. We agreed to
      > come back for another visit to all the enclaves
      > after receiving Your
      > blessing to do so and to expand the lesson in
      > history with a second
      > part - how St. Sava realized the testament of Stefan
      > Nemanja."
      > "What was your impression of Caglavica and the
      > photography exhibition of
      > Dragan Tanasijevic on display there, 'The Guardians
      > of the Holy Shrines'
      > ?" asked the bishop.
      > "It is a very exclusive, very beautiful exhibition
      > in a beautiful
      > facility. The acoustic arrangements were very good.
      > Unfortunately, there
      > were not many Serbs there. There were more of these
      > local foreign
      > guests."
      > "And how did the foreigners respond?"
      > "First of all, every one of them had a translator
      > with him to translate
      > every word that was said. I recited another part of
      > the Testament, the
      > part about the name, here as well, and later I
      > quoted from the Heavenly
      > Liturgy. As I was reciting the latter, your guest,
      > Mr. [Michael]
      > Steiner, arrived and he listened very attentively to
      > all this. The monk
      > Sava also arrived with him. He gave a speech and
      > acquainted those
      > present with the contents of the exhibition and its
      > history, and thanked
      > them for their protection. He said that he hoped the
      > barbed wire and
      > tanks would disappear as soon as possible and that
      > peace, joy and
      > contentment would prevail, and that our Church would
      > be able to live and
      > work again like before. His speech was followed with
      > great attention.
      > "In the secondary school in Laplje Selo, I recited
      > the Testament to the
      > graduating class, the young men and girls at that
      > school. I normally
      > recite this text in Serbia and abroad but I have
      > never experienced such
      > attention, absorption, such reciprocal energy. When
      > I finished the
      > Testament, one of the professors said: "Let's
      > respond to this now in the
      > words of [Petar Petrovic II] Njegos."
      > "A girl stood up and began to recite an excerpt from
      > 'The Mountain
      > Wreath'.
      > "Another professor who was there then said: "Let's
      > respond to our dear
      > guest now with the words of Desanka [Maksimovic].
      > They recited
      > 'Gracanica'.
      > "We concluded with the words of Bishop Nikolaj: May
      > the Serbs become
      > united, God-fearing and more numerous."
      > "What was your impression of Kosovo?" asked Bishop
      > Artemije.
      > "On Miholjdan I was in Velika Hoca and Gorazdevac.
      > At that time we were
      > taken and driven around in their transporters so I
      > could not see or
      > sense everything that has been done, or see what a
      > danger it is to live
      > in Kosovo as I saw now.
      > "Now I traveled some 20 kilometers with Father
      > Nektarije and I saw how
      > he communicates. 'We'll see each other, we'll get
      > together,' Nektarije
      > says without mentioning where we will see each other
      > and where we are
      > now. We did not have an escort immediately but from
      > a certain
      > intersection. It was only now that I realized how
      > dangerous life in
      > general is there.
      > "What I saw was two different worlds. One world is
      > expanding and
      > building a main road from Merdare to Pristina with
      > beautiful houses. I
      > saw something which caught my attention immediately,
      > a sole Serb flag on
      > a single house, despite the fact that we passed
      > through almost the
      > entire Serb area surrounding Gracanica. This means
      > that only one Serb
      > house is being built there.
      > "What I found most disturbing was the traffic on
      > every road, not only on
      > the main road. To me it was as crowded as if I had
      > found myself on Knez
      > Milos Street in downtown Belgrade."
      > "That is an indicator of the fact that life in
      > Kosovo is as busy as an
      > anthill," said the bishop. "Unfortunately, it is a
      > monoethnic life; it
      > is solely Albanian. The Serbs in Kosovo remind one
      > of the Serbs in
      > Serbia - you can go for ten kilometers and not see
      > any of the people by
      > the road or in the yard."
      > "That is disturbing; that's an unusual impression,"
      > repeated Mr. Bradic.
      > "On the other hand, I saw the tremendous yearning of
      > those young people.
      > Those young men and girls - there was so much purity
      > in their eyes and
      > in their hearts; their eyes were open wide as they
      > followed the story
      > which is true for it is here that we became a
      > people.
      > "The woman speaker told me," said Mr. Bradic, "that
      > I reminded them of
      > our past while they, the Serbs of Kosovo, are taken
      > to task for
      > overemphasizing our past. How would you comment on
      > this, she asked me.
      > "I think that they have every right to take us to
      > task for something
      > that they do not have. Kosovo and Metohija is our
      > great archeological
      > site. Wherever we dig, we find one of our graves or
      > our altars. They
      > take us to task for always coming back to this.
      > Because anyone who does
      > not know how far back our predecessors go needs only
      > to search among the
      > bones and graves of our predecessors; they will show
      > the truth.
      > Therefore, this is our truth. They take us to task
      > for it because it is
      > something that they do not have. They are younger
      > than we are."
      > [end text]
      > Bishop Artemije
      > http://www.decani.yunet.com/360.gif
      > Bishop Artemije in front of UN Headquarters in
      > Pristina
      > http://www.decani.yunet.com/bishop_un.jpg
      > Kosovo Serb Delegation in the Security Council
      > http://www.decani.yunet.com/unsc.jpg
      > Patriarch Pavle and Bishop Artemije, June 2000, in
      > Gracanica
      > http://www.decani.yunet.com/vidovdan2000.jpg

      * Fr. John Whiteford IC -|- XC *
      * ----|---- *
      * St. Jonah Orthodox Mission | *
      * Spring, Texas \| *
      * http://www.saintjonah.org/ |\ *
      * http://groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodox-rocor/ NI | KA *

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