09 November 2006

Independent Kosovo would be cancer of Europe - Kosovo bishop

INTERFAX (RUSSIAN FEDERATION), 12 October 2006, 15:27

Moscow, October 12, Interfax - An independent Kosovo would lead to an irreparable tragedy for all of Europe, Bishop Artemije of Ras-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has said.

"I would compare an independent Kosovo to a cancer, which would affect all of Europe, not only the regions surrounding it," Bishop Artemije said at a press conference at the Interfax main office in Moscow on Thursday.

In the seven years the peacekeeping contingent has been present in Kosovo, that province "has become a European black hole where crime, drugs, weapons, and human trafficking thrive," he said.

"An independent Kosovo would become a base for extremist forces, and its separation from Serbia would lead to the complete elimination of the Christian community and all traces of the thousand-year history of Christianity in that area," he said.

Since the moment the KFOR contingent arrived in Kosovo, over 150 Orthodox churches and monasteries there have been destroyed. In the same period, over 400 mosques have been built in that territory with financial support from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, he said.

In addition, 250,000 Serbs have been expelled from Kosovo, over 1,300 Serbs have been killed and about as many have gone missing, Bishop Artemije said. Tens of thousands of Serbian homes and hundreds of villages have been destroyed over this time, he said.

"The time of persecutions and fear continues for the Serbs and other non-Albanian ethnic groups," he said.