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Address to the United Nations Delegation

Bishop Artemije

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Gracanica Monastery

Gracanica Monastery

27 April 2007
Gracanica Monastery


Your Excellencies,

I am very pleased to be able to welcome you to this Serbian Orthodox monastery, Gracanica, which is about to celebrate seven centuries of existence.

This, as well as other medieval monasteries and churches dating back to the Nemanjic dynasty bear eloquent testimony to the thousand year old presence and life of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

I am certain that you have heard and learned quite a lot over the past ten years. However, this is not sufficient for formulating an impartial solution when the future status of Kosovo is concerned.

Therefore, we greatly appreciate your efforts and your wish to find out in person what the real situation has been like in Kosovo and Metohija for the past eight years. It is the love for truth which brought you here in order to realize the full truth that shines through facts.

Your Excellencies, it is order that maintains heaven and earth. Legal norms and moral principles are the very foundation of a democratic world. We expect from you that these principles be applied to us, as well. Double standards, which have been frequently employed, are not an expression of love for justice.

For the past eight years, since June 1999, these principles and ethical norms have been expelled from Kosovo and Metohija, despite of the presence of the international community as represented by KFOR, UNMIK, the OSCE, as well as other international institutions and organizations.

Innumerable crimes have been committed in Kosovo and Metohijia over these eight years: Ethnic cleansing, by expelling 250.000 Serbs and members of other non-Albanian communities -- Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians, Jews ... ; the killing of innocent civilians (roughly 1.300), from infants to 90-year old men and women; the abduction of more than 1.000 persons whose fate remains unknown this day; the razing of hundreds of villages to the ground; reducing tens of thousands of houses to ashes, sacking and brutally usurpating them;burning down 150 churches and monasteries, devastating and vandalizing them. You shall find a complete account in "Kosovo Crucified" and "The March Pogrom"). Not even the dead could rest in peace. Many graves have been vandalized, the tombstones destroyed, the graves dug open and the remains scattered.

These crimes have reached their culmination in an atrocious pogrom perpetrated by more than 50.000 Albanian extremists against the Serbs and other non-Albanians on the 17 th and the 18th of March of 2004.

One third of the Serbs who had been living in Kosovo and Metohija prior to 1999, and who continue to live here, has entered their eighth year of living in ghettos, camps, enclaves surrounded by barbed wire. These people are completely deprived of all of their human rights: The right to life, the right to free movement, the freedom of religion and worship (visiting places of worship, cemetaries), the right to work (even working their own fields), the right to normal health care, the education of their children, and so on.

The provisions of the SC Resolution 1244, which serves as the basis of the international administration established in 1999, have not been met to this day. Nothing of what was written and promised there has been fulfilled, at least not as far as the Serbian people is concerned.

Not a single point of the international standards has been met. This fact is best illustrated by the unrealized right of all displaced persons to return to their homes. In eight years, barely two percent of the 200.000 expelled Serbs have returned. And those who did return live under impossible conditions, where they are often being attacked, mugged, killed.

The greatest shortcomings, however, lie with the judiciary. Of the very large number of crimes committed, almost none have been identified and brought before justice. Evidence of this can be found in the "Human Rights Watch" Report on Kosovo dated May 30, 2006, a copy of which has also be given to you.

SC Resolution 1244 advocates a multi-ethnic Kosovo. It has been such up until 1999. All cities and towns in the province were truly multi-ethnic. Sadly, they are no longer so, because of the ethnic cleansing, particularly in the cities. It is sufficient to give Pristina as an example. Prior to June 1999, 40.000 Serbs lived in Pristina. Today there are barely 100 souls. Can we still call Pristina a mutli-ethnic city? Or Pec, Prizren, Urosevac, Klina, Srbica, and so on. There are no longer any Serbs living there.

Your Excellencies, without creating the conditions for a sustainable return of the expelled and their return to normal life, it is futile to search for a solution for Kosovo. It shall not be found.

One must know that the Kosovo and Metohija question is not only a question before the Security Council, it is above all a question for our democratic, internationally recognized state, Serbia, and the Serbian people with its centuries long presence here, during which it created its cultural heritage, which is now being mercilessly destroyed by the Albanian extremists since 1999. Not only on the 17th and the 18th of March, but before that and after that, all up until today.

In addition to this, the international community (Council of Europe) forces us to accept that some of our destroyed sacred places be restored by the very people who have destroyed them, i.e. the Albanians. In a moment, Mrs. Gordana Markovic, Director of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia, shall briefly illustrate to you what such reconstruction looks like in practice.

Finally, it should be remembered that Kosovo and Metohija is the cradle of Serbian spirituality, Serbian culture and Serbian statehood. It is not a myth, but the spiritual identity of the Serbian people, without which it cannot exist.

Therefore, the entire Serbian people as well as the state of Serbia shall never accept any kind of an imposed solution, any solution which would separate Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia.

The only solution we can see lies in genuine negotiations and a compromise solution acceptable to both parties. Only such a solution can guarantee peace and stabtiliy in the Balcans, and even beyond.

Thank you for your attention.

Bishop Artemije

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

Posted: 14-May-07

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