Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Repentance is the only way out

This is a translation of a leaflet issued by the Diocese of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija with the blessing of Bishop Artemije a few years ago. I've been meaning to translate it for a while.

From experience we know that every war is a tragedy for a nation. In every war the innocent suffer as much as the perpetrators, if not more. There is only one conflict that is more awful and tragic than conflicts between nations, and that is civil war, which is waged between factions of the same nation. In this situation every casualty is equally great, every wound equally hard to heal. But depending on your point of view every war can be justified to a greater or lesser extent. The war which has no justification and which is unjust in all its segments is the undeclared war, the war against the weak and innocent. It is this type of awful war which has raged for decades in Serbian lands, and which each year carries away hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. That war, which is constantly being waged and which is fought day and night, is the war against unborn Serbian children. In this war there exist concentration camps. The modern day ‘Jasenovacs’ are the state abortion clinics that work day and night. The factories of death grown under the strain of their activities. In Jasenovac, the real one, the notorious one, 700 000 Serbs were killed in 4 years. Awful is it not? In the modern day ‘Jasenovacs’ 220 000 little unborn Serbs are killed each year; and the number killed in the private ‘mini factories of death’ is unknown. When we add to this awful fact that the annual death rate is greater than the annual birth rate by 20 000, we come face to face with a painful realisation: every year a town of 20 000 disappears in Serbia. Where that is taking us is clear. Our nation is biologically dying. And then we wonder at all the problems that we are faced with. We become angry with everyone and everything, from our neighbours to God. We look to blame others for our suffering in the last 15 years. Only we never remember to look at ourselves in the mirror.

In light of what has been said about the abortion rate, the inevitable question that has to be asked is: what will be the immense and unavoidable punishment? Maybe we are even rushing towards the fate of the Khazars- and that is the complete disappearance of Serbs as a nation from the face of the earth- and it would be a small punishment in comparison to the evil that we are inflicting upon ourselves.

And lastly the question: is there salvation for Serbs from this hell in which we are boiling as a nation? Yes there is! It is nationwide repentance. Serbs must become aware of their sins and crimes against themselves and repent; and that means stop sinning. And then, and only then, as a nation and as a state will we be saved. Then, and only then, will Kosovo, as the cradle of Serbia, have its future in such a new, repentant, rebuilt and rejuvenated Serbia.

Therefore, Serbian brothers and sisters, let us come to our senses! There is nowhere else to go, we have come to the edge of the abyss: the state has almost been broken apart, Kosovo and Metohija is about to be ripped from us, and they will not stop at that. If we continue like this, if we only watch silently and shrug our shoulders, then we will in the near future become a minority in our state, some kind of new Belgrade sultanate. And in the longer term- who knows, maybe we won’t even exist. Are you able to comprehend this? Can you sleep peacefully? Many will say: “But what can I do, nothing depends on me”. Infact it is just the opposite, everything depends on us. On our will and wish to repent as a nation and ask for help from God. For He promised: “Ask and it shall be given to you, knock and the door shall be opened”. And also: “Everything you ask for in your prayers, believe that you will be granted this, and it shall be so”…”Everything is possible for him who believes”. If we believe our God and ask for salvation from him, we will obtain it. Three years in a row on Saint Sava’s day, the icons in our Serbian churches weep. They weep for us, because of our indifference and cowardliness, they cry in our place. They remind us of what we should be doing. When we weep then they will smile.

We call upon you to join the heavenly choir that prays for the salvation of Serbia and the Serbian nation everywhere: most of all in Kosovo and Metohija, but also in Southern Serbia, in Raska, in Vojvodina, in Bosnia… Let us at least hold to this (regular prayer), if we cannot manage anything greater, and remember: on our persistence and zeal our future depends.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The recent violence, partition and the elections

One UN policeman has been killed, and around 70 Serbs (one is in a coma) and dozens of NATO personnel injured during the recent violence in Kosovo. It seems that the regional UN chief has tendered his resignation, but that his request has been rejected. I was looking out for some biased reporting on BBC news yesterday. They devoted large amounts of time to the unrest in Tibet, which largely came out of the blue, which is further away, and which is not a result of Western foreign policy. Kosovo, which they helped annex, where their troops are stationed, which is within Europe, they didn't even mention. The 'free press' at its finest. Since I won't be in a position to update this blog regularly in the coming 2 months I recommend the following English-language websites:

There are a couple of things I wanted to mention. Firstly, partition. I believe that the pro-EU politicians would like nothing better than such a solution. It would allow them to pretend that they won a concession, that they have achieved permanent stability and that we can then jump back onto the EU bandwagon since we all mutually recognise the new border. At the moment the EU and the Albanians are totally opposed to such an outcome, and hopefully it will stay that way. Such a settlement seems to be the only glimmer of hope for Tadic. At the moment he is trying to have his cake and eat it. The EU just amputated our territory, which he condemns, but he still wants to join the EU! Those Serbs who would consider partition to be an achievement need to be aware of a number of things. Firstly, partition would likely involve Serbia keeping 15% of Kosovo at best. Secondly, 50% of Serbs still left in Kosovo live outside the northern region. Thirdly, the vast majority of our sacred places, including (to the best of my knowledge) all the monasteries and our medieval capital Prizren, lie outside the northern region. Fourthly, whilst willingness to negotiate and to settle for less than that which is rightfully yours can be considered virtuous in some situations, this is not one of them. Giving away your spiritual heartland so that you can obtain higher living standards and join the EU is deplorable. Resistance to immoral imperialists, whose trail of blood and destruction spans half the globe, if not more, is virtuous. Only a servile puppet of those very imperialists could possibly try and sell partition as a victory. Watch out in the coming months for those domestic champions of 'territorial integrity' to suddenly start pushing for this 'lasting solution' of partition.

The other point I wanted to mention is the recent election. Tadic narrowly won the presidential runoff by a couple of percent. Now given that Hungarians, Muslims and Roma make up 6-7% of the electorate, and that they largely voted for Tadic, that tells you that the majority of Serbs didn't. What this also tells you is that the destiny of Serbia is tied up in the hands of minorities who will always vote for most liberal and least patriotic candidate. The situation also brings to mind the referendum on the independence of Montenegro. The pro-independence camp won the vote by less than 1%. Albanians, Muslims and Croats make up around 17% of the electorate. Which side do you think they voted for? And our enemies tell us that diversity and multi-culturalism are a strength!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Responsibility of Love

Recently I was given a book by a relative entitled Guard your soul. It contains a series of conversations that the Elder Paisios had with some of his spiritual children. For most of the book he is conversing with a nun. It is one of the best books I have ever come across so I decided to translate a small section of it. Much of his wisdom can already be found online, but I have yet to find the following extract. The book is in Serbian and so my translation into English will suffer the effects of a 'double-translation' and be far from flawless. Unfortunately I don't know Greek, so I couldn't translate directly from Greek into English. I believe that the following conversation took part in the early 1990's. Given that he was Greek, he is lamenting the situation in Greece, but most of what he says applies to Serbia and other countries.

The Apathetic Generation

Elder Paisios: What is that noise?

An aeroplane, elder.

Shut the window so that it does not enter. The world has become so defective that even that is possible. Everything is falling apart, the family, the education system, the sense of duty. And no one cares! They don’t have anything within themselves.

Elder, who is guilty for the situation we find ourselves in?

Speaking in general terms, I want to point out to what extent the spirit of indifference has gripped us. Go to a school and you will see: if open windows are banging against the wall due to gusts of wind, you will be hard pushed to find one child who will stand up and close them so that they do no smash. Some children will stare into the distance; some will watch as the windows are smashed; some will pass next to the window as if nothing is happening. Indifference. An officer was telling me “I fear that I cannot find even one trustworthy soldier to guard the fuel depot so that someone doesn’t inadvertently cause a fire”.

An atmosphere of lukewarmness without even a little heroism is upon us. We have become corrupted! I don’t know how God tolerates us! What dignity there once was! What zeal! During the war, in 1940, the Italians had occasional meetings with the Greek border guards and they even entered Greek border posts. Do you know how dignified the Greeks were? Once when the Italians entered into a Greek border post and were drinking coffee, a Greek officer produced a note of his own money worth 250 drachmas –that was worth a great amount in those times- and threw it into the fire, to show the Italians how wealthy the Greek state was. The Italians were speechless. What selflessness!

Today a spirit has entered us which can be found in communist states. In Russia there will be a famine this year, irrespective of the yield of the wheat crop. They didn’t harvest the wheat on time. They started their harvest in the autumn. Since when do you harvest in the autumn? When it isn’t theirs how can they be sorry, how can they be expected to make an effort over it? They have been hired out for their entire lives. They don’t have zeal or the wish to create, for they haven’t produced anything for years. Their state has collapsed from that spirit of laziness and indifference. Rain falls on the harvested wheat and they don’t react. The working hours are over. They go home. The wheat is left out in the open. They come the next day, during working hours, to save that wheat which can be saved! But if the wheat is yours, will you leave it in the field to rot? You wouldn’t even sleep in order to save it. You would feel joy and delight from such weariness.

Indifference towards God brings with it indifference to all else; it brings moral degeneracy. Belief in God is a great thing. When a man believes in God, then he also loves his parents, his hearth, his kin, his job, his village, his community, his state and his fatherland. But someone who doesn’t love God and his family doesn’t love anything, for the fatherland is one big family. I’m trying to say that everything comes from this (belief in God). If a man doesn’t believe in God he won’t be considerate towards his family, towards his homeland or his fatherland. And that is what some wish to destroy, and why they are creating an atmosphere of comfort and leisureliness. A policeman wrote to me “I couldn’t come to you because I was busy with work. Just two of us were covering the entire region, whereas there should have been eight of us officially”. Can you believe this? Instead of sending two additional policemen, they leave these two alone!

Thankfully there exist people who are exceptions.

Once there came to me a father who requested “Pray for my Angelos, for they will kill him”. I had met his son whilst he was still a young boy, and now he was serving in the army. “Why” I asked, “What has happened?” He found a group of them playing cards when they should have been on duty. He reprimanded them but they did not listen. Later he filed a report and one of them threatened that he would kill him. “Look”, I said to him, “They won’t kill him. And I will pray that they don’t send Angelos to the military tribunal because he didn’t play cards!”

I heard of another case and I said “Thank God, there still exist people who care for the fatherland”.

When the Turks violated our airspace one of our pilots responded and tried to get as close as possible (to the Turkish plane) so that he could film it and prove that they had violated the border. The radio controller told him over the radio to return but he insisted in persisting with his efforts. Unfortunately the Turk had a better plane and shot this hero of ours into the sea. Now when you compare this with those for whom an airplane serves merely as a means to holiday, then you will see the difference!

One has to find a purpose, to realise that goodness is indispensable; everything else is a waste of time. Try and call up to war someone who is indifferent. You will see how he will run away and try to get out of it. But when he realises what evil the enemy will inflict, then he will become a volunteer.
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Sunday, March 09, 2008

'Who Art Thou That Judgest?'

The Great Fast begins tomorrow, so I thought I'd post this sermon on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (13:11-14:4), written on this day (Forgiveness Sunday) a number of years ago by Father James Thornton.

Source: Orthodox Christian Information Center

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, tomorrow we Orthodox Christians begin the Great Fast. We now enter an extended period of approximately seven weeks of more intense prayer and fasting until we reach Holy Pascha, the Feast of Feasts, the Feast of Christ's Resurrection. This is a period of golden opportunity for each of us wherein we may look deeply within ourselves and determine what, from a spiritual point of view, is unwholesome or deficient. We may then, during this time, begin the work of excising from our lives that which is unhealthy and, at the same time, augmenting that which is truly sound and truly pleasing to God.

I run the risk here of sounding prosaic and platitudinous when I recall the popular saying, "You are what you eat." Yet I shall take the risk: you are indeed what you eat. It is quite obvious that if we eat luxuriously, if our diet is exclusively confined to the most extravagant foods, exotically flavored and rich in fats, spices, and sugars, as is typical of the contemporary American diet, our individual physiologies will sooner or later bear the marks of those habits, either in various aspects of outward appearance or in the functioning of our bodily systems, or in both.

Moreover, our individual characters, personalities, and temperaments will be marked, and, likewise, and most importantly, our souls. An obsession with the worldly impresses itself on the whole of our beings. By way of contrast, more prudent choices in our diets, as prescribed during the Fast by our wise Mother the Church, will do the opposite, and may make us physically healthier, and most assuredly will make us spiritually healthier.

Some religious writers of a modernist or fundamentalist bent enjoy drawing our attention to the alleged fact that in early Christianity—primitive Christianity, as it is sometimes called—there were no Holy Canons regarding fasting, no Great Lent, practically no fasting rules at all. Holy Canons and fasting periods are seen by these writers as latter-day and, by implication, needless accretions, even "monkish" accretions in the estimation of many of them.

In today's Epistle reading, St. Paul writes of a difference of opinion between those who believe that they may eat all things and those who "eateth herbs [i.e., vegetables]," as he puts it. We see from this passage that even at this earliest stage, just a few decades after Christ's Ascension, questions about fasting from certain foods were already present and were already the subject of discussion. So, fasting was not unknown in the Apostolic Church. In fact, Orthodox historians maintain that the Wednesday and Friday fasts are of Apostolic origin and it is likely that, while the Lenten fasts were not codified in their current form until after the Apostolic period, that codification nonetheless reflected an already established, though not always uniform, tradition.

Consequently, what the modernist and fundamentalist writers say is true only to the very limited extent that, in St. Paul's day, certain details about fasting had not yet appeared and would take time to unfold. As with medical science or, let us say, the science of physics, the science that is Orthodox theology required time to mature.

The comparison here between the natural sciences and theology is apt, yet it is imperfect in one respect. In the case of the natural sciences, new discoveries that radically alter the body of fundamental knowledge are always possible. The discovery of the connection between bacteria and disease by nineteenth-century medical science or the displacement of classical physics by quantum physics in the twentieth century are examples of this. In the case of Orthodox theology, that cannot happen.

All knowledge needed for salvation has been given us by Christ; the body of fundamental knowledge remains fixed and changeless. No radical discoveries about this knowledge are possible. But a growth in the understanding of the application of that body of knowledge to our lives is possible, and that growth, that maturing, has characterized the history of Orthodoxy.

As the grave risk to life and limb that was associated with membership in the primitive Church abated in the early fourth century, it became safe, even fashionable, to belong to the Church. It was then that other methods for forging the spiritual character became an urgent necessity, and for this reason fasting took on an increased importance at that time. When one lives by day and by night under the terror of persecution; when crucifixion, burning alive, being devoured by wild animals, or being sentenced to a life of forced labor, are genuine possibilities for the followers of Christ; when one's outlook is colored by continuous fear of the knock at the door—in those circumstances, it may be argued, the most rigorous type of fasting is not as indispensable as in more tranquil times.

Therefore, those who argue that we ought to return to the more primitive practice of fasting, in which it was somewhat less comprehensively regulated, should understand that if membership in Christ's Church is to achieve anything positive for us at all, then with this less stringent regimen in fasting there must also come a desire for trials of the most severe kind elsewhere in our lives. If membership in Christ's Church is to make us more like Christ, either one or the other is indispensable. Considered that way, we can see that fasting from animal products is not so difficult after all.

Now, let us enter more fully into the message of today's Epistle reading. In writing of the disputations in the early Roman Church between those who did not fast so strictly and those who did, St. Paul offers this admonition: "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth." What wonderfully beneficial words these are!

St. Paul is telling us that whatever fasting discipline we or others follow, the crucial thing is that we address the matter of our own relationship with our Master, Jesus Christ, and not judge the relationship of our neighbor with Him. When we each face the question as to whether we need to fast more stringently to strengthen our commitment to our Faith, our answer to that question, and the way our answer manifests itself in our lives, will ultimately be judged by the Master Whom we serve, when we stand before His "dread judgment seat." So it is also in all the things we choose. It is not for us to make judgments about our Christian brothers and sisters. For several reasons we do not judge them:

1. To judge another is to usurp the place of God; as St. Paul says: "Who art thou that judgest?"

2. To judge another is to take one's focus off the place where it should be, and must be, to save one's soul, which is on one's own spiritual imperfections.

3. To judge another is to incur the danger of an additional sin, misjudging, since we cannot see into another man's heart and cannot know all of the circumstances of his life. St. Dorotheos of Gaza observes that while one can see another man's sins, one cannot know about that man's standing with God, about his secret prayers of supplication for mercy and forgiveness. "You may well know about the sin," the great Saint writes, "but you do not know about the repentance."

4. To judge another brings further dissension and strife into the Church, a place where peace and love should be the primary attributes.

5. To judge another is to bring on the temptation of an even worse sin, one of the worst among sins, which is gossip.

6. Finally, and most significantly, to judge another is to bring judgment upon ourselves; Christ Himself warned, "judge not, and ye shall not be judged."

We are repeatedly warned as Christians not to judge other men and women. Does this require that we completely abandon our critical faculties when it comes to our dealings with other people? If we should know of a man who is a notorious embezzler, do we do right in judging him unfit to be the custodian of the public treasury? If we should encounter a man whom we know to be a psychopathic murderer, do we properly judge it unwise to invite him over to dinner? The answer to both questions, obviously, is yes.

Let us take some less extreme and more likely examples. If we learn that a particular friend or companion exerts an unhealthy influence on us as Christians, or if we believe that a friend or companion of our children may lead those children astray, may we make the appropriate judgment in those cases and terminate such associations? Again, the answer is yes. Of course we may do that. We would be held accountable by Christ for not making these kinds of judgments.

What we are forbidden as Christians to do is to judge another person's ultimate state before God, or to employ our critical faculties to enhance, in our own minds, our own rank or station or footing, in what we fancy are the eyes of God, at the expense of another human being. We are forbidden, in other words, to regard ourselves as "holy" by comparison with someone we regard as "sinful." The Holy Gospel teaches us that Christ God judged the outwardly holy men of His country, the Pharisees, very harshly, while the Good Thief (a most unlikely candidate for salvation, one would think) was assured everlasting happiness. St. John of the Ladder declares that, "[T]he beginning and sum of the passions… [is] unholy self-esteem."

Let us therefore not fasten our gaze upon the imagined inadequacies of other men and women during the Great Fast but examine with the most penetrating contemplation possible our own spiritual failures, that these may be swiftly amended. For most, if not all, of us, that task is sufficient to fill a lifetime.
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Friday, March 07, 2008

New generation galvanized by recent events

Source: IPS News

Finally, there is a new generation of young Serbs, ready not to turn their eyes to the EU, ready not to be the speechless dwarfs of Euro-integrations who would walk into Europe with a poor man's backpack on their shoulders and a consumers' basket in their hands.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

To Kosovo!

Source: Serbian Unity Congress

Actions always speak louder than words. Prime Minister Kostunica, President Tadic and our Patriarch Pavle must recognize the essential difference between the inspiring example of brave WWI King Peter who stayed WITH his men in their Golgotha across Albania to emerge as the victor of the war, and the instructive example of the foreign-influenced, naive King Peter II, who spent WWII far away in "friendly" England only to lose his kingdom.

If Serbia's leaders move to go and live in Kosovo regardless of any "KosovA" declaration, they will inspire every Serb now there to remain and many others, including me, to come to Kosovo. It was like this that Joan of Arc (Jovanka Orleanka) inspired and saved France, which was in a much worse predicament than Serbia today. But if Serbia's leaders stay in Belgrade and tell the defenseless Serbs in Kosovo "you stay THERE, trust us, we are supporting you from HERE," they have much less chance of succeeding.

A single, clear message must reach the ears of those in power: Lead from the front, not the rear, and your nation will follow you proudly and without fear of betrayal.

Neither the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) nor the planned illegal EU police mission have any authority to physically eject Serbs from Kosovo, because doing so would explicitly violate Security Council Resolution 1244. Their only strategy therefore is to pray for a repeat of the Serbian exodus from Krajina... once the Serbs are gone, they are convinced that the "problem" will be gone forever. Most people, Serbs included, will normally flee from apparent mortal danger unless they are inspired to stand firm by wise and brave leaders. History is rich with the proofs that, when bravely led by even one man at the right place and the right time, any nation can rise up and win any battle.

A further failure by Serb leaders to lead by example would only serve agents of defeat seeking to undermine from within our immortal bond to Kosovo. Just as the saying goes, "possession is nine tenths of the law" -- the physical presence in Kosovo of Serbia's national leaders is the key to winning this struggle for survival. It is both our most effective and our most peaceful possible defense.

But only if this cry for leadership spreads among our nation, amplified by the media and the Internet, can we succeed. This national appeal must come to our Serbian leaders not from any one individual, but simultaneously, from all sides, from the entire people, from the beating heart of every living Serb, reasserting the eternal rights won by our martyr Lazar and all our other heroes who have given their lives for the Serbian heartland of Kosovo...

Summoned by our entire nation and protected by our God of justice (Boze pravde), our leaders need merely to arrive and sit down in Kosovo in order to checkmate the illegal, immoral and ultimately doomed effort to amputate the heart of the Serbian people.

This appeal to our Serbian leaders must find its way to them through every possible channel...
Spread the call: To Kosovo!

John Bosnitch
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

UN Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie on Kosovo

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

John Bosnitch on the EU

I recently found an interesting article written a couple of years ago by John Bosnitch, a Serbian activist from Canada. I believe that he wrote this piece in order to advise a Serbian child who had been told to write a school report on 'Why Serbia deserves to join the EU'! Even then the argument against joining the EU was overwhelming. Below is an extract. For those with time on their hands, it might be worth reading the whole thing.

Source: Byzantine Sacred Art blog

And so we face a historic challenge. Shall we finally join the German-led Europe after all these battles for our freedom?

If it were merely a free-trade deal like NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) the loss of sovereignty would be limited and Serbia would remain an independent state. But that is not what the EU represents. Instead the EU represents an effort of the ruling classes of each member state to form a common union in which the economic reward is merely a bribe in search of the surrender of sovereignty -- which is their trophy. With national independence snuffed out, the EU ruling elites will eventually operate the place as a single country, ruled mainly from Berlin and the European central bank in Frankfurt. It will have its own army and all the member states will have to send troops to participate in its “adventures.” In Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Sudan, and maybe even in Russia, young Serb men would be in arms, extending Western-style “freedom,” the essence of [Roman] Catholicism and “human rights” to our brother Slavs at the end of a rifle barrel.

The costs sound bad, so what about the benefits? Well, being at the far end of the new German empire, instead of seeing things flow our way, we would certainly see all of our best and brightest youth heading to the center of European power in flows so great that they would dwarf the past flows of Yugoslav gastarbeiters (guest workers) into Germany, the brain drain that we have seen during or since these latest Balkan wars, and certainly the period of forced indoctrination of Serb youths in Ottoman Turkey as kidnapped janissaries.

Most of the main economic activity in the EU is based in the center of the EU -- in Germany and France. They make the AirBus planes and Mercedes cars -- we might be “permitted” to make some tires for each of them. Our free-for-all agricultural industry will be totally mechanized and the early-morning markets in the piazzas (public squares) will be replaced by sterile supermarkets full of frozen foods -- have you ever tasted a tomato anywhere in the EU (or even America) that tastes as good as a fresh tomato from an open market in Serbia? No, I did not think so.

As a sign of things to come, as soon as the pro-EU opposition seized power in their October 2000 coup in Serbia there were hundreds of truckloads (hundreds of thousands of tons) of genetically modified soy beans (unwanted anywhere else) being dumped into northern Vojvodina as the first doors opened to “superior” Western and EU goods. Since then, German investors have bought up most of the privatized Serbian industries, and even the media. Today, Germans own the main newspapers that Serbs read in Belgrade. Entry to the EU will make the surrender of Serbia’s independence and the collapse of national self-sufficiency even more complete.

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Appeal by Bishop Artemije of Kosovo & Metohija

The Bishop declared a few months ago that 'joining NATO would represent the greatest descent, misfortune and humiliation for the Serbian people in their entire history'. After the latest developments in Kosovo, I thought it would be only a matter of time before he said something similar about Serbian entry into the EU. And in this appeal he states: 'Joining the European Union is an act of high treason against Serbia and the negation of our entire history'.

Source: Diocese of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

My dear compatriots, my Serbian brothers and sisters,

Dear friends,

As the Bishop and spiritual leader of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, I take this opportunity to address all of you who have gathered here in such large numbers to protest, to demonstrate and testify to two basic truths:

First, that Kosovo and Metohija is part of Serbia, has been so for centuries and shall remain so for centuries to come, and

Second, that you, just as all Serbs wherever they may live—in our fatherland, in Serbia our mother country or in the diaspora, do not condone, do not recognize and do not accept the forcible separation of Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia by the illegitimate, illegal and unilateral proclamation of the so-called independence of Kosovo on the part of our centuries-old oppressors and present-day occupiers, Albanians’ and their foreign allies.

Brothers and sisters, we must first convince ourselves and then explain to our friends from other countries, who understand and support us, that Kosovo for us Serbs is not simply GEOGRAPHY, but much more than that. Kosovo is an ideology and an ideal. It was the ideal which was given to the Serbs as a people and to each Serb individually on the day of VIDOVDAN in that distant year 1389 as something to strive for. It was on that day that Kosovo and Vidovdan became our “spiritual vertical” and our cornerstone on which we have built all our history, our culture and our statehood from the Battle of Kosovo to this day.

All of it is now in jeopardy. Aided by the great and mighty of this world, trampling on all international laws and principles, as well as the Charter of the United Nations, the Albanians have unilaterally, illegally and illegitimately proclaimed some sort of independence of Kosovo, taking it forcibly away from Serbia and the Serbian people. Serbia does not recognize it, she does not accept it and she will never agree to it. Because to Serbia Kosovo and Metohija is what the heart is to a man. Without the heart there is no man, there is only a corpse. Without Kosovo there is no Serbia, nor Serbian people.

For nine years now, the crucified Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija has been bleeding and yet refusing to abandon Kosovo. Nor will they abandon it today. We are in our homes, we are in our state, close to our churches and monasteries, albeit ravaged, and we have no intention of leaving. They can banish us by force, they can kill us, but they cannot rob us of our Kosovo. The exiled people retain the right, recognized as the fundamental right of any man, to return one day to the land from which it was exiled. And we shall return to Kosovo and Metohija sooner or later. That right has no statute of limitation, just as there is no statute of limitation for the crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Sooner or later assassins will answer for the crimes they have committed. Everything secret will become public. Everything hidden will be brought to light.

We know that it is hard to wait and live to see it happen. But we have our ancestors who have shown us by their example that it is possible. We must be patient and have hope in God’s justice, which, as the saying goes, is sometimes slow but its wheels grind exceedingly fine. Justice is slow by our human standards because we would like for all our problems to be resolved here and now, before our eyes, in our lifetime. But history teaches that it does not always happen that way. To the contrary.

For us to endure, to remain and to survive in the holy land of Kosovo and Metohija we need help and support. We need God’s help and the help of our saintly forefathers. But we need also the help of you, our brothers and our friends who are gathered here, in this public square to protest together with us. Raise your voices in the countries where you live, not only at protest meetings, demonstrating in the streets, but wherever you are, everywhere and in every place. Speak about injustice and crimes, about the devastation and the destruction of our churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, about evictions, assassinations, harassment, rapes and brigandage which the Albanians are perpetrating against the disenfranchised Serbian people before the eyes of the world entire. The world pretends not to see. Instead of meeting appropriate punishment to the perpetrators of numerous crimes, the world rushes to reward them. It rushes to reward them by recognizing the illegally proclaimed independence of Kosovo. What shame and disgrace! What moral depravation!

As for us Serbs, we must stop rushing to embrace those who are wrenching our hearts from our breasts. Let us say firmly to the European Union that we do not wish to join it while it is robbing us of our Kosovo. Only an intact Serbia with Kosovo and Metohija within its breast can join the European Union. This is also the message we send to our government. Joining the European Union is an act of high treason against Serbia and the negation of our entire history.

It is our sacred duty to invite you and the entire Serbian people to swear the new Kosovo oath. With the help of the Holy Prince Lazar we must follow his example and the examples of countless Christ-loving Serbian saints and our honorable ancestors who chose always the Kingdom of Heaven. Our struggle is in the first place a spiritual struggle. So let us be steadfast in our choice. United and with the help of Christ, God made man, His Most Pure Mother the Theotokos, Saint John the Baptist and all the Saints we shall win because KOSOVO IS SERBIA.

His Grace Artemije Bishop of Raska and Prizren and Kosovo and Metohija

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