Page 440 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Bishop atanasije (jevtić)
tive stand, as was the case during a meeting in Vienna at the beginning of March 1999 under the auspices of the U.S. organization appeal of Conscience, viewing the problem of Kosovo and Metohija not only from the national but also from the humanitarian and Christian perspective, it could be observed that the albanian religious representatives (efendi Morina and Bishop M. Sopi) during this period as well as later avoided every form of self-criticism and did become very actively engaged in stopping the violence.
after Rambouillet and Paris it became apparent that the NaTO military alliance would finally become involved in the Kosovo crisis. The very thing that the state govern- ment should have sought to avoid at any price now became inevitable and the beginning of the tragic “resolution” of a crisis lasting many years and many decades. This resolu- tion, as we will see later, would resolve nothing but become a new tragedy for the Serbian and other non-albanian pop- ulation in Kosovo and Metohija.
The NaTO bombing of Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija (March 24-june 10, 1999)
The conflict between NaTO and FRY began with the mas- sive bombing of Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999 and lasted no less than 78 days; it concluded on june 10 of the same year with the signing of the dictated Military-Technical agreement in Kumanovo. The bombing of FRY opened a new phase in the conflict in Kosovo and Metohija. During this period FRY security forces launched a “final campaign” against the albanian rebels. even though some albanians left the Province of their own accord out of fear of repres- sive measures or encouragement by Western friends and allies in order to produce as great an effect as possible of “humanitariancatastrophe,”agoodnumberofalbanians— about 700,000 refugees left the Province according to UN- HCR statistics by june 1999—were expelled by the state police and army. This action was accompanied by violence, murders, looting and destruction of albanian property. The Church through its parish priests did everything pos- sible to prevent violence, urging everyone to act in a civi- lized and dignified fashion. During the Great Fast of 1999 Bishop of Kosovo and Metohija issued a Public Communi- qué to all parishes and monasteries, calling on the people to exercise restraint and repentance and most strongly con- demning acts of looting and violence. Some of our monas- teries, such as the monastery of Dečani, organized human- itarian aid for albanian refugees as they had previously done for Serbs fleeing from the KLa. in the course of the winter of 1998/99 Dečani Monastery, together with Inter- national Orthodox Christian Charities (iOCC) from the U.S. distributed aid to all the unfortunates in the Dečani area, primarily to albanians. Similar activities were orga- nized by other parishes throughout the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, especially for persecuted Serbs and Serbian refugees from Krajina living in the Province. During the
time of greatest persecution, the monastery of Visoki De- čani sheltered some 200 albanian women and children from Dečani whose lives were endangered due to wartime events.
During the course of the bombing itself, bombs of de- structive strength frequently fell near our great Holy Shrines, especially in the area of Gračanica and Dečani; however, they sustained no direct material damage. The Serbian Or- thodox cemetery and the cemetery chapel in Priština suf- fered significant damage from large bombs falling in the area and in the cemetery itself. (Upon the arrival of NaTO troops, their troops spent almost the entire summer of 1999 collecting and destroying unexploded bombs above the mon- astery of Gračanica in the Kišnica mine). This in no way jus- tifies the bombing, which was openly called an inhuman act against civilization by the Church and condemned.46 The senseless NaTO bombing against the Serbs and against civilization has not solved a single essential problem, leav- ing instead lasting negative consequences in Kosovo and Metohija and throughout Serbia.
The Tragic situation of the Serbs and
of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija from june 1999 till today
When the Government in Belgrade finally accepted the plan of the international community regarding the deploy- ment of KFOR (NaTO forces in Kosovo) and the withdraw- al of Yugoslav army and Serbian state police by the signing the so-called Military-Technical agreement in Kumanovo (May 10, 1999),47 real confusion and panic broke out among the Serbian people in the Province. Within several days of the withdrawal of the army, a significant number of Serbs also left Kosovo and Metohija, judging from everything, approximately 30,000 in the first wave. This occurred pri- or to the arrival of KFOR and the return of the albanians. The priests and monks appealed to the people to stay in their homes whenever possible and offered a selfless ex- ample by staying in their own parishes and monasteries. all monks and nuns stayed in Serbian monasteries and a direct daily connection with the Bishop’s residence in Priz- ren was established via short-wave radio. During the peri- od immediately preceding the arrival of KFOR, it is impor- tant to mention the very negative conduct of some mem- bers of institutions of the regime, who were the first to flee from their homes with trucks full of goods, not infrequent- ly looted from the albanians. Some of them actively spread
46 See the letters-appeals of the Serbian Patriarch and Bishop of Kosovo and Metohija to the leaders of the Western NaTO countries during april 1999 in Nova Kosovska Golgota (The New Kosovo Gol- gotha), Svetigora, Cetinje, 2000, vol. 1, pp. 203–206, 220–223 and 313–315.
47 The question is: why precisely in Kumanovo unless it is to re- scind the liberation of Kosovo in 1912 following a decisive Serbian battle against Turkey which took place at Kumanovo.

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