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In Search for a Kosovo Solution: Interview with Jim Jatras

Boba Borojevic

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Message by Bishop Artemije to democratic world:

Do not "tolerate violations of religious freedoms and the extermination of Christianity" in Kosovo by Albanians.

Do not consider "the creation of an independent Kosovo managed by criminals and jihad supporters."

Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren has appealed to the Canadian authorities to use their influence with UN members and NATO to secure ''a re-examination of the wrong policy of the international community in connection with the recognition of the independence of Kosovo and Metohija.'' ''I wonder how it is possible that the international community and the democratic world tolerate violations of religious freedoms and the extermination of Christianity, while they are considering the creating of an independent Kosovo managed by criminals and jihad supporters,'' Bishop Artemije told a press conference held at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. During his visit to Ottawa on October 26, His Grace bishop Artemije met with the Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Peter Van Loan. H.E. James Bissett former Canadian Ambassador to and Jim Jatras, director of the American Council for Kosovo accompanied the Bishop. In the effort to gather as much support for his mission in keeping Kosovo as an integral part of Bishop Artemije and Jim Jatras had similar high-level talks in Washington and Moscow in September and October this year.

Borojevic: What is the significance of these visits?

Jatras: Each of the countries you have mentioned is very important to the effort we have been mounting on behalf of the Serbian community in Kosovo, under the spiritual guidance of Bishop Artemije. The American government (my government) is largely the source of the problem. It appears that the Russian government is largely the solution to the problem, and we think that Canadian government can be a very useful catalyst in opening the eyes of the international community to the seriousness of the error, which some people would like to commit in Kosovo. The Canadian government has a very high international reputation regarding the rule of law and observance of international standards. It was with that appeal we came to the Parliament to enlist the support of the Canadian public and government in voicing their opinion against the illegal and unjustified detachment of Kosovo from .

Borojevic:As a Director of the American Council for Kosovo, adviser to Bishop Artemije and the Serbs from Kosovo, what is your strategy in fighting against enormous pressure by many foreign factors that insist on granting independence to Albanian Muslims in Kosovo?

Jatras: Essentially, through several ways: One is to broaden the circle of public opinion here in the to focus the concerns of politically and socially active sectors on Kosovo. This means we are reaching out to groups that are concerned about a number of issues like human rights, religious freedom, global terrorism, and so forth, and directing their attention toward Kosovo, because until now most of these interests are not focused on Kosovo. Instead, Kosovo is being dealt with by a small group of bureaucrats who made up their minds a long time ago as to what the solution for Kosovo ought to be -- independence -- and are still perusing that option. We are trying to make as hard for them as possible. At the same time, the second element -- and that was the reason for our trip to Moscow -- was to remind people there of the extent to which those favoring the illegal detachment of Kosovo from also tend to be the most anti-Russia elements of our government. If is in a position to stand up on strong, legal authority and say, "No, we will not permit the illegal detachment of Kosovo from ," that places the agenda of these Washington bureaucrats in a very difficult position, because they have no other way to get to their goal without a new Security Council resolution. Of course the third important element is that Serbian government has been very strong in saying they will not agree to the detachment, and I think that the overwhelming approval of those who voted on verifying the Serbian Constitution reinforced that very strongly.

Borojevic: You have just mentioned your and Bishop Artemije's visit to Moscow. How much can you count on Moscow support and how serious is Moscow?

Jatras: There has been an increased assertiveness from that is very different from the kind of policy we saw during the Yeltsin era and even in the early years of the Putin presidency, where we had the color revolutions and NATO expansion and, essentially, just over and over again diktat from Washington, which the Russians were, forced to accommodate. I do not think they feel like being so accommodating any more. 's cooperation is very much needed for more important areas of American diplomacy having to do with , and so forth. The idea that we can just simply dictate to and they'll agree to something that is against their interests -- I think that this is something they are tired of over there. They are not going to allow themselves to be pushed around on this one. Now it is less the question of whether Moscow is going to stand up in support of , as much as their being prepared to stand up in defense of their own interests.

Borojevic: We have heard on CNN two days ago, David Gergen -- editor-at-large for US News and World Report repeating what Clinton and others have said before, that in order to build new bridges of trust so that Muslim lands do not remain a breeding ground for new waves of terrorists, we should point out to these Muslims how much America has sacrificed to protect Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. Will this kind of appeasement of Muslims by the West work?

Jatras: There is no doubt that that kind of thought among many people in Washington is a large part what is wrong with the American policy on Kosovo. The 9/11 Commission, for example, made exactly the same recommendation in its report: that we (the) need to convey our good will towards the Islamic world through that kind of example. The only trouble with that idea is that it shows a complete and total incomprehension of the Islamic mind on the part of people who say these kinds of things. Looking at any jihad site on Internet will show you that they do not see any good will at all on the basis of this kind of intervention on behalf of Muslims in Kosovo and . On the contrary, they see and Kosovo as just examples of victimization of Muslims by non-Muslims, and it doesn't matter by whom -- by Americans, by Israelis, by Russians, by Serbs, by Indians. That is all what they see from their point of view. The idea that is going to buy any good will in the Islamic world by that kind of action is absurd. They just do not understand what they are talking about.

Borojevic: Kosovo is part of and will remain so. This is what we have heard from Bishop Artemije and you during your visit to Ottawa. How could we in and elsewhere help?

Jatras: One very important thing -- and this is something that was clear during our visit to Ottawa -- is to keep in mind that Bishop Artemije is the shepherd of a flock that will be eradicated if Kosovo becomes an independent state. Bishop Artemije speaks out with an overwhelming moral voice in support for his Christian Serbian community in Kosovo, for the Christian presence in Kosovo against jihad terrorism and organized crime in Kosovo. Everyone who hears this program in or elsewhere can do two things. First, they should contact their elected representatives and tell them it would be wrong for their government (if they are listening in , the Canadian government, -- in the the American government) to support this illegal detachment of Kosovo from , which would result in a major gain for terrorism and organized crime. Second, the other very important thing is to do anything and everything that can be done to support Bishop Artemije. Please visit our site www.savekosovo.org . In light of the delay in the decision on imposing a "final status" -- which we now see -- there is an element of growing panic on the Albanian side that things are slipping away from them. We need to build on that momentum. Contact your government, say NO to Kosovo independence -- and support Bishop Artemije.

Visit the American Council for Kosovo website (new window will open).

Letter delivered to President George W. Bush from His Grace Bishop Artemije of Kosovo and Metohija (new window will open).

Read the entire article on the The Diocese of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija website (new window will open).

Posted: 11-Nov-06



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