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began with bigger operations in the Dečani area in May and june 1998, which led to the practical destruction of this small town since the police and Yugoslav army responded so fiercely that almost all the albanian population fled be- fore them into the Dečani hinterlands where the KLa al- ready had independent rule. in those very difficult and try- ing times, worthy of mention is the activity of the monas- tery of Visoki Dečani whose brotherhood on several occa- sions appealed for peace and restraint in the region through the media.45 The monastery’s communiqué of june 12 is an example of the condemnation of violence regardless of from which side it was coming, and a clear testimonial of the Christian Orthodox position that no one’s happiness can be built on the unhappiness of another. in the summer of 1998 albanian extremists from the direction of Mališevo conquered Orahovac, which led to serious and bloody shootouts and great material damage. in the area around Orahovac the KLa set out to liquidate the remaining Ser- bian settlements, killing or abducting several dozen of Ser- bian civilians from the Retimlje, Opteruše, Zočište and Orahovac areas in the process. The monastery of Zočište itself was occupied and the entire brotherhood, together with abbot jovan, taken away and imprisoned for one day; they were released after one day of imprisonment thanks to the international Red Cross. The monastery remained for more than two months in the hands of the albanians, who partially looted it even though they did not destroy it at this time. The clash between state security forces and the albanian rebels continued at somewhat reduced intensity during the course of the autumn and winter of 1998.
in this period in the West the position was increasingly built up that Milošević must be stopped, even using Na- TO military intervention if necessary. That is why increas- ingly greater political and diplomatic pressure was placed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia government to find a solution through negotiations as well as to show greater restraint toward the albanians. as a result of those pres- sures and compromises by the Government, the so-called Kosovo Verification Mission arrived in Kosovo and Meto- hija with the task of overseeing the observance of one of a series of cease-fires between the rebels and the state police. On the other hand, the albanian extremists continued to provoke the police and terrorize the Serbs according to plan. it should be noted that one albanian crime in janu- ary 1999 involved the machine gun shooting down of six Serbian children in the Panda cafe in Peć immediately after police broke up an extremist albanian group attempting to enter the Province from albania by crossing Mt. Paštrik.
The turning point occurred in February 1999 when the police allegedly murdered several dozen Albanian civil- ians in the village of Račak near Štimlje. The government
45 See the Appeal of the monastery of Dečani dated May 30, 1998 in the anthology of documents Nova Kosovska Golgota (The New Ko- sovo Golgotha), Svetigora, Cetinje, 2000, vol. 1, pp. 17–18.
Destroyed Church in Djakovica
claimed that the victims were armed albanians, and that some of the bodies had been brought in later from other locations. The report of a team of Finnish pathologists head- ed by Helena Ranta concluding that there was no massacre of civilians brought no significant turnaround in the inter- pretation of the incident. Serbian media and officials saw the event as a classic staging in order to create a reason for intervention while international circles insisted that a mas- sacre had occurred. in any event, the Račak incident would become the initial capsule for NaTO military intervention in March 1999. Hasty and feverish diplomatic activities and negotiations lasted until mid-March 1999 and were unsuc- cessfully concluded in the castle of Rambouillet near Paris and in the French capital itself, as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not prepared to accept certain provisions insisted upon by the international community. it soon emerged that Rambouillet was just a scenario for attack by NaTO aviation (similar to the recent attack by the United States and england against iraq). However, it was also hu- miliating that the state delegation of Yugoslavia in Ram- bouillet did not include real representatives of the Kosovo and Metohija Serbs, which awoke the fear of decisions be- ing made to the detriment of our people.
While the representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church in their statements at that time took a very objec-
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