(JUNE - AUGUST 1999)

Fr. Sava

The peoples of Kosovo and Metohija are passing through the most difficult days in their history. The ethnic Albanians experienced their days of suffering, expulsions and death from the immoral and destructive policy of the Belgrade regime. Now the Serb people are again exposed to suffering, expulsions and death from the immoral and destructive policy of the ethnic Albanian nationalists.

The peace forces of KFOR entered Kosovo and Metohija on June 13, 1999 with a goal to guarantee peace and security to all inhabitants of the province. But only in the last two months since their arrival, more than 180.000 of Serbs have left or were expelled from their homes. Albanian extremists killed or abducted several hundreds of people and burned thousands of Serb homes.
Only in the last two months, in spite of the presence of almost 40.000 elite NATO troops, UN civil administration, numerous humanitarian organizations, NGO's and hundreds of journalists, more than 40 Serb Orthodox shrines, churches and monasteries, have been completely razed to the ground or desecrated.

These acts of vandalism cannot simply be called the acts of individual and blind revenge. It is becoming more and more evident that there is a systematic strategy in the background to annihilate once forever all traces of the Serb and Christian culture in Kosovo and Metohija, and there are more than 1.400 such sites. Our churches and monasteries are usually destroyed by miners with military training, and a veil of tacit conspiracy between the perpetrators and witnesses shrouds all their actions, often reiterated.

So it happened that the Albanian crowd in Djakovica jubilated during the night of July 23 after the destruction of one of the most beautiful new Orthodox cathedrals in Kosovo and Metohija. The leaders of the KLA, which has the sovereign control of this city and the major part of the Province, readily denied any responsibility for this event but at the same time did nothing to prevent further destruction of other Christian churches, in the middle of Europe and at the end of the 20th century.

So far KFOR has not managed to stop and prevent further destructions although some of the mined churches are situated only a few hundreds yards from the neighboring military posts. The investigation has not shown yet who stands behind such actions. It is hard to believe that NATO is incapable of carrying out the investigation. On the other hand a suspicion easily arises that the authorities might not be ready to push the thing to the very end.

The vague peace, expulsions, murders, ethnic cleansing of the non-Albanian population from Kosovo and Metohija, arson, destruction of the Serb cultural and religious monuments may be a disturbing evidence that the international community faces more and more the essential failure of its mission.

Why did the world resolutely stand up to stop the mass exodus of Kosovo Albanians only several months ago but now watches passively and helplessly the Serbian people and its culture exposed to uncontrolled violence? Can the world allow one European people and its ancient culture to be mercilessly destroyed both physically and culturally? How can the cultured Albanians allow the destruction of the monuments which they themselves were proud of and which their ancestors often considered as holy? In the most difficult times they often protected these sites together with their Serb neighbors and preserved them to this very day.

How can the most valuable monuments of the Medieval Christian Serb art and architecture be so blatantly endangered? Can civilized Europe and the world allow the fight for the political rights over the territory of Kosovo and Metohija to be carried out through the extermination of any people and the destruction of holy shrines no matter to which religion they belong?

The rage of unrestrained violence and hatred must be brought to an end. The rule of chaos and insanity must be stopped once for ever. Unreasonable revenge over innocent civilians as well as the vandalism against the monuments can never be an acceptable way towards the future of both peoples nor can such methods ever bring the lasting peace in this region.

Hieromonk Sava