Life of Our Monasteries and Churches
In Post-war Kosovo

Monks and Panzers - Life secured by KFOR tanks

Decani Monastery

Urgent - Aug 15, 2002

Albanians Try to Steal Monastery Property
Misusing Court and Deceiving UNMIK

Decani Abbot Fr. Teodosije asks protection from the institutional repression
of an Albanian court in Decani

Abbot Teodosije sent yesterday a letter to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Mr. Michael Steiner, asking his urgent intervention and protection of the Monastery from the institutional repression by the Decani Municipal Court and Municipal authorities.

Visoki Decani Monastery therefore considers the decision of the Municipal court in Decani as overt institutional repression against the last remaining Serb community in Decani Municipality and a provocation to the international authorities in Kosovo and Metohija. Supporting the right of local Kosovo courts to adjudicate land issues concerning the property of religious communities and former socially owned enterprises would make a dangerous precedent which would inevitably result in legal disorder and usurpation of large tracts of Serb owned land', said Fr. Teodosije in his letter to the SRSG. MORE

After the end of war in June and arrival of KFOR Decani monastery was immediately put under the protection of the Italian Army. At the moment the brotherhood lives relatively normaly as much as it is possible in these conditions. All Serbs who lived in the vicinity of the monastery were driven away by the Albanian extremists. Several were abducted and killed.

Despite the fact that the monastery sheltered 150 Albanians during the war and supplied poor Albanians with food all the previous year (1998) ethnic Albanians constantly threaten that they would destroy the monastery and finally drive all Serbs away. At the moment the monastery is surrounded by tanks and barbed wire. Italian soldiers are even based within the monastery. The monks do not have freedom of movement and whenever they have to travel they are transported in a bullet-proof Italian armoured car. They cannot by any food in Kosovo and for any medical treatement they must treavel outside of Kosovo. That is more or less how all our monasteries live today in post-war Kosovo.

August 2001, The monasteries of Kosovo and Metohia still under KFOR protection
(click on each photo for a larger size image)

A KFOR tank in front of Decani moonastery

A KFOR tank in front of Decani Monastery, August 2001

24 hours protection around the monastery
Modern tanks around the medieval walls, August 2001

NIN, Those Who Stayed Bishop Artemije, his monks and nuns help Serbs to survive, Jan 27, 00. Serbian Orthodox Church was the only Serb institution which stayed in Kosovo and Metohija after the war.

Bishop Artemije, COMKFOR and Jock Covey in Decani UNMIK and KFOR Priority is to Protect the Monasteries. Serbian Orthodox Church appealed to UN authorities and KFOR many times to protect the churches and monasteries from Albanian militants.

Decani Monastery Attacked by Mortars Serbian Orthodox Monasteries are Exposed to Constant Pressure and Threats by Kosovo Albanian Extreemists. Attacking a monastery like Decani with mortar grenades demonstrates the wider goals of Kosovo Albanians in their quest for an independent state.

AFP- Serbian Orthodox monks defy pressures in medieval monastery June 27, 2000

Monks Living Under Concentration Like Conditions Politika, June 22, 2000

KESTON, Kosovo: Attacks on Decani Monastery, July 31, 00
KESTON, Dynamiting of Orthodox Churches Continues, July 31, 00

KESTON, Kosovo: Allegation That Orthodox Priests Blessed Paramilitaries Denied, Aug 7, 2000
Texts by the Keston institute exploring the conditions in which Serb Orthodox monasteries live today in Kosovo. Attacks, threats, media hate speech and slanders are used indiscriminately especially against the Orthodox monastics.

Short History of Decani Monastery a survey of centuries long history of Decani.

Decani Monastery from a Helicopter photo gallery showing the monastery from the sky.

A Decani monk inspecting the damage which Albanians made in the monastery pine forest above Decani monastery, summer 2000

Above the Monastery of Decani there is a natural park of the black pine (Pinus nigra). This park with its beauty ranks among the most beautiful forested areas not only in Kosovo but even wider. Majority of pine trees are more than 350 years old. Monastery records state that in the 16th century Decani monks planted first pine tree park in the shape of cross. Later additional trees were planted and the park today covers area of 15 hectars. Amidst the park are the ruins of the medieval church of St. Nicholas with an old Serb Orthodox cemetery. After the Second World War communist authorities planned to turn entire monastery area into a tourist-recreational area on the expense of the monastic life. They destroyed a part of the forest to build one little hotel. In 1996 local Albanian authorities began building a large new hotel which has never been completed. Both of these facilities which are not used since 1990 seriously damaged upper part of the pine forest. Since the park is situated on the monastery property, a part of which was illegaly confiscated by communist authorities after the war, the monastery managed to get this peace of land back in 1997. After the war in Kosovo new Kosovo Albanian authorities want this land back and plan further destruction of the forest for building of tourist facilities and weekend houses. The monastery strongly opposes this idea as the legal owner. Nevertheless, in summer 2000 Kosovo Albanians suddenly brought buldozers in the park and destroyed a few dozen of beautiful trees in order to build a large Water rezervoir. It was only after an intervention of the Monastery directly to the UNMIK chief in Pristina that this was stopped.

The photo above shows the destruction of the monastery pine forest with a monk who came to inspect the area. This incident shows that in Kosovo today there is not only a process of systematic destruction of Serb Orthodox monuments but also destruction of enviroment around our holy sites. Hundreds of Serb Orthodox cemeteries are being polluted by garbage which Kosovo Albanians bring from their cities and turn our graveyards into garbage dumps. As all other acts of barbarism this also happens in the very presence of UN Mission and KFOR troops in the area.

Bishop arriving by helicopter
Bishop Artemije - just arrived to Gracanica manastery in a white UN helicopter
The Bishop is under constant guard of special UNMIK close protection unit

Traveling only under KFOR escort
Traveling only under KFOR escort in Italian military vehicles
(click on the photo for a larger size image)

Getting ready for a trip
Getting ready for an early morning trip, Aug 2001
(click for a larger size photo)

Decani Monastery
Location 1 - Area where the mortars fell in the recent attack, June 2000
Location 2 - Area where the Albanians devastated the monastery pine wood

Bishop Artemije, COMKFOR and Jock Covey in Decani, June 2000

Decani monastery guarded by Italian KFOR
Decani Monastery guarded by Italian KFOR
Without KFOR protection all Serb Orthodox monasteries and churches
would be destroyed by Albanians.

Budisavci monastery now
Budisavci metochion now guarded by Spanish troops

Italian Bersaglieri guarding the Patriarchate of Pec
Italian Bersagliero guarding the Monastery in Pec

Serb Orthodox nuns in their seclusion
Serb Orthodox nuns live in total seclusion, guarded by KFOR soldiers
If they leave their monasteries unguarded they may be
killed or abducted by Albanian extremists.

Visit of Patriarch Pavle to Decani
KFOR provides security during the visit of the Serb Patriarch in Decani

Priests and monks in New Kosovo travel only in aromoured vehicles

The freedom of Christians in Kosovo is totally fictional. Despite 40.000 NATO led troops and UN Mission Kosovo generally remains society in which only Albanians are free to live, move and work.

Churches under 24 h. KFOR protection - Mitrovica March 2000

Europe in the Second Millenium - Christian churches guarded by soldiers
in the heart of Europe

KFOR provides security for a Serb funeral
KFOR provides security for the Serb Christian Orthodox funeral

Kosovo today is the only part of Europe where Christian heritage is exposed to merciless destruction and desecration by Moslems. This systematic process of destruction of one centuries old culture shows not only that the Albanian political leaders are not ready to respect culture of others but that they themselves do not have respect to the Christian heritage of our continent in general. Not a single Albanian politician has made any concrete effort to stop these barbarous acts but many have even more encouraged their compatriots in acts of violence.

Slowly Kosovo and Metohija province which bears a dominant Christian cultural and civilizational identity is being turned into a culturally and religiously clean Moslem society. While Moslems all over the Europe enjoy full rights of their religion and culture and keep building their mosques from London to Paris and Berlin, Christians in Kosovo and Metohija live under dominant religious and cultural intolerance of Albanian Moslems and enjoy even less rights than oppressed Christians in Moslem fundamentalist countries.

While publicly praising themselves that Kosovo is becoming a part of Europe, in their own courtyard Albanian political and intellectual leaders create a new Jammahyria in the heart of Christian Europe.

A shrine under constant military protection