Bishop of Raska and Prizren Artemije

An Open Letter to the Presidents, Governments and Parliaments, to the Diplomats and Ambassadors of the USA and Other Western Countries

Holy Friday, 1999

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing this open letter, although I'm not sure how it is going to get through to you, since all telephone and other forms of communications with Kosovo are dead, that being one of the many "successes" of your NATO intervention on my homeland, my innocent people and myself.

During the 16 days of continuous bombing by your alliance you have really achieved stellar results, stellar from your perspective. You have destroyed military barracks and other military facilities, factories and civilian residential areas, bridges and radio transmitters; you haves own death and wounds, pain and sorrow to many homes and villages; you have forced a whole nation to go underground. And you do all this for "humanitarian reasons"? We'd be grateful if you would explain how your inhumanity to us would be expressed.

Naturally all this causes us great pain, mostly because of the knowledge that we did nothing to deserve this. You say that by doing this you wish to punish Mr. Milosevic. Did you really not have other ways and means to punish him personally without punishing God's poor people in Aleksinac, Pristina, Belgrade, Velika Hoca and who knows where else you're going to strike?

According to accepted international conventions, as well as the laws of God, if someone punishes or kills children because of the crimes and misdeeds of their parents, he himself becomes a transgressor and criminal. If it is done on a massive scale and in the context of war, then they are war criminals and should be tried at the Hague Tribunal. What is the difference between such criminals and you, under whose orders thousands of tons of destructive explosives are being showered upon the heads of innocent people and children, because of the crimes of one man, Mr. Milosevic? Do you not also belong in front of the Hague Tribunal? Perhaps you comfort yourselves with the thought that there is no one who can take you there. I think that is little comfort if you have a conscience and believe in God (as you present yourselves). No one can escape the judgment of the Eternal and Righteous Judge, not even you with all of your military and economic might. Think about that.

In addition, I would like to emphasize something else. The greatest victim of your NATO bombs is not what is demolished and broken or killed and wounded (however great that number may be), but rather something which you stopped from developing, something which was conceived and was supposed to bring about the integration of Serbia, Yugoslavia and the Balkans into the European and International mainstream. That something is DEMOCRACY! Before your bombs democratic forces existed here, open and with potential; there existed a democratic process, however embryonic.

There existed a hope with these people, that with your support the process of democratization would come to life and prevail. All of that is gone now. Destroying those democratic forces, those democratic processes, the hope and faith of this people for a better tomorrow, is the greatest crime of your bombs.

The Serbian Orthodox Church (I as Bishop of Ras-Prizren) along with the representatives of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, gathered together in a movement of Serbian Resistance, a democratic movement headed by Mr. Momcilo Trajkovic, a symbol of the Assemblage of the Church and people, have traveled for the last two years throughout Europe, America and Russia, declaring everywhere the truth about the problems of Kosovo and Metohija, it's ancestry, the acute situation in which it finds itself, and ways in which the problems could be solved to the satisfaction of all those who live in Kosovo and Metohija and who desire to live as honorable and good citizens in their homeland.

With this peace mission we visited the USA five times in one year, from February 1998 to February 1999. Wherever we went, we stressed that the problems of Kosovo cannot be resolved by using force, irrespective of which side it came (including the forces of NATO).We advocated our conviction that solutions be sought by political means, by way of the democratization of Serbia, Yugoslavia, as well as the greater Balkan region, through dialogue and agreement. We promoted a multi ethnic, multicultural and multireligious Kosovo, where all residents would enjoy the same privileges according to the world's highest standards.

With satisfaction and gratitude we can truthfully say that we were exceptionally well received and heard everywhere we went, and 90% of the time we were supported in our position. This made us hopeful that the problems of Kosovo would be resolved peacefully to everyone's satisfaction. Our listeners expressed joy in learning that another Serbia existed, different from the one represented by Mr. Milosevic and his regime, that an alternative exists. All this pointed to a better future for everyone. All that has now been destroyed.

Not a trace of those beautiful possibilities survived NATO's bombs. Instead we have precisely that which we (Mr. Trajkovic and I) predicted during our last visit to France and the USA in February of this year. We specifically stressed to Mrs. Albright, in person and in writing, what would happen if NATO intervened militarily in Serbia and Yugoslavia. Here is a brief reminder:

1.      NATO intervention would only strengthen Mr. Milosevic's regime.

2.      It would be a big blow to the democratic opposition in Serbia and would postpone the necessary process of democratization in Serbia.

3.      It would provoke Mr. Milosevic's regime to undertake drastic measures against those who think differently in Serbia.

4.      It would cause a radicalization of certain factions of the KLA, which would in turn cause the radicalization amongst the Serbs in Kosovo and Serbs in general.

5.      All of this would put eventual NATO units in Kosovo in a very delicate situation as they would be viewed as an occupation force.

We ask you, ladies and gentlemen, which of the things we predicted and pointed out to you (hopefully in a timely manner) did not come true upon NATO intervention?

We expressed at that time our fear that such a flow of events would be counterproductive and harmful in many ways. In its place we offered an alternative, an ADDENDUM on how to make cantons in Kosovo, which would not change the Rambouillet Agreement, but would only supplement it so that both the Serb and Albanian sides would have equal right to autonomy, making the Agreement acceptable to both.

To our great sorrow you chose to intervene militarily with NATO air strikes on our homeland. What will this accomplish? Whom are you really going to help? Think this through for yourselves. Bombs neither conclude nor reduce a "humanitarian catastrophe," but rather compound it exponentially. Perhaps this has become evident in the last 16 days of your "peace mission." Good for you!

Our hopes in you, your democracy, your love of justice, your humanitarianism, are now buried deep in craters produced by your bombs and tomahawks. Will they ever be resurrected? That's the question now.

Christ, whose Holy Friday we celebrate today, suffered and was crucified by the same people whom He came to save out of His love. They unjustly killed and buried Him. They sealed His tomb and set a guard over it in order to prevent His glorious and saving resurrection. But all of their measures failed. Christ has risen. And to us, who suffer from your bombs today, without fault or blame, He gave us hope that there is resurrection for us, too, no matter what you do to us.

We Orthodox Serbs, although persecuted by you, have genuine pity for you. Your downfall is even greater than ours because it longer lasting. It is longer lasting because you are incapable of repentance for the evil you inflict upon us. Therefore, we pray for you to the Crucified and Resurrected Lord, repeating with humility and love His words from the Cross: "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do"

Christ Is Risen. Indeed He Is Risen

The Bishop of Ras and Prizren, + ARTEMIJE

April 9, 1999, in Prizren,

[translation by Father Dragan Filipovic]

Први пут објављено: 1999-04-09
На Растку објављено: 2007-11-24
Датум последње измене: 2007-11-25 13:44:10

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