Bishop of Raska and Prizren Artemije

Letter of Bishop Artemije Regarding the NATO Intervention Against the Serbian People

This letter was sent to the participants of the Balkans Conference which will be organized in Bonn, Germany on May 27.

TO THE BALKANS CONFERENCE, Bonn, Germany May 27, 1999

Vox Clamantis in Deserto ("the voice of one crying in the wilderness" Mat 3:3)

"We played the flute for you, And you did not dance. We mourned to you, And you did not lament." (Mat 11:17)

These words of the Holy Gospel, gentlemen, were uttered by the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, when He reproached the world and compared it with "foolish children" (Mat 11:16). But these words also reflect the present situation in which I am found, as the Bishop of Raska and Prizren and the representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church together with Mr. Momcilo Trajkovic (the Leader of the Serbian Democratic Movement in Kosovo). For years we have been traveling around the world bearing witness on the growing difficulties in Kosovo and Metohija province, its origins and immediate causes. We made constructive proposals and explained the ways how these problems could be resolved and the impending tragic catastrophe prevented in due time.

I wrote about it in greater detail in my OPEN LETTER to the political leaders of the NATO countries, especially the leaders of the United States, dated on April 9, 1999 — Good Friday. That was the sixteenth day of the NATO aggression against our country. Today, after two months of "peace sowing" all over the bomb-ploughed land of Serbia, I cannot add anything to previous "achievements" of the bomb-intervention but only confess that its consequences have multiplied tenfold. Among the targets of the NATO air raids have been vital infrastructure facilities, urban areas, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, foreign embassies (Chinese, Swedish, Swiss, Indian...). The casualties are many, not only among the Serbs, but also among Kosovo Albanians, Romanies, Turks and other citizens of Serbia and Montenegro. Since the above mentioned casualties do not appear as legitimate military targets, "the masters of war" (without any official proclamation of the war) are trying to appease their conscience by calling their tragic failures "collateral damage". The same euphemistic explanation was offered even when the international train, a bus full of passengers, groups of refugees (Djakovica and Korisa) or densely populated urban areas (in Aleksinac, Pristina, Surdulica) were bombed with astonishing precision and such disastrous consequences.

The self-proclaimed "judges of the universe", in their haughty pride are shocked that Serbia was not defeated after the first days of bombing campaign (as it was expected). Therefore they intend to pursue their air raids until the end, i.e. "until Milosevic accepts all NATO conditions, withdraws his army and police from Kosovo and brings back all refugees." It is only then, they say, that bombing will stop. Such unshakable determination means that the war will last until all Serbs and ethnic Albanians are destroyed or perhaps until the Balkans is consumed in a large-scale conflagration. Both United States and NATO are very well aware that such conditions cannot be fulfilled as long as the bombing is continued, no matter whether Milosevic were ready to meet their requests or not.

Therefore I keep asking the leaders of the West again: Who will live enough to enjoy "the peace and democracy" which is being delivered to us on the wings of your tomahawks and smart bombs? Who will be able to survive living in the environment polluted by the effects of your bombs? Is this what you are doing and intend to do in future truly intended to "protect" Kosovo Albanians and the UCK? Is it possible that you are determined to protect them to the last one of them? Do you really intend to end the 20th century with such a bitter irony and cynicism? Is this the gate through which Europe has to enter into the third Millennium? If it is, then what we can expect from such a future? What kind of happiness, justice, prosperity and democracy we are going to enjoy? At the end of this century we must not forget the words of a prophet who said: "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7). Let us think about it as long as there is time.

The Serbian Orthodox Church and our faithful people deeply regret for all what has happened in this region. As much as we feel solidarity with the suffering Serbs we also feel great compassion for innocent victims among Kosovo Albanians, many of whom were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge abroad. As many times before we firmly condemn all acts of violence no matter from which side they came from. Nevertheless, the roots of evil and violence are too deep. In this land there has been a lot of injustice, hatred, evil and crimes among the peoples who have been living here for centuries. But, to accuse and punish only one people for all evils and sufferings is undoubtedly the gravest crime, especially when an entire people is identified with certain individuals who have or could have committed indecent acts and crimes.

Should the history measure in the same way the latest mass crimes committed in the name of "humanism and peace" by NATO and the United States it would make the same mistake. There has to be made a clear difference between irresponsible political leaders of these countries and ordinary people who abhor the crimes of their leaderships. We know that people in these countries are manipulated and exposed to propaganda of their mass media as well as in our homeland. That is why we always make a clear distinction between NATO politicians and the peoples of NATO countries. That is what our Christian Orthodox faith is teaching us because the God — the Just Judge — will come in the ultimate times to judge the living and the dead and give unto everyone according to his works.

When humans self-willingly take upon themselves the role of "judges of the universe", they make mistakes common to humans, equaling the guilty and the innocent and punishing all indiscriminately. Speaking about such people our great Prince-bishop, poet and philosopher Nyegosh said: "He who has his law in a mace, his footprints reek with inhumanity". (Mountain Wreath)

As for us, we will continue bearing witness of the Truth before those who "have ears to hear" (Mat 11:15). Such efforts have its purpose and will finally produce fruitful results. Therefore, we shall continue to speak to the world and be in contact with those who want to hear our voice. We are also aware of great peace efforts, which some people have made to spread the truth with unshakeable hope, energy and sincerity. The best way one can choose in our times is to fight against evil with goodness.

That is all I can say now. I would not like to repeat what I have already said before and which is well known to many in the world. I would not even take this opportunity to reiterate my appeal to the mighty of this world to stop their horrendous air raids. I would only leave them alone before their own conscience and the just judgement of the Lord, no matter whether they believe in Him or not. We remain firm in our faith and hope in God's mercy and justice. We also believe that God will show way out of this impasse, not only for our country and our people but also for the whole world and all the nations in the world, because there is, alas, too much evil and injustice everywhere.

Bishop of Raska and Prizren


Decani Monastery

38322 Decani, Serbia

Први пут објављено: 1999-05-27
На Растку објављено: 2007-11-24
Датум последње измене: 2007-11-25 13:44:00

Пројекат Растко / Косово и Метохија