27 March 2007

Almost daily ethic cleansings in Kosovo aimed to drive Serbs away - Kosovo ruling bishop

INTERFAX (RUSSIAN FEDERATION), 15 January 2007, 14:02


Belgrade, January 15, Interfax - Ethnic tension in Kosovo and Metochia persists and measures taken by the peacekeeping force to alleviate it are inadequate, believes Artemije of Raska and Prizren, the ruling bishop of the region.


'Not a single day passes without any incident (clash between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo - IF). The stable tension continues and its ultimate goal is to continue the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs remaining of Kosovo and Metochia till their complete banishment from the region', Bishop Artemije said in an interview with the Belgrade-based Danas newspaper.


For the last seven and a half years that the peacekeeping force has been present in the region, its official reports, according to the bishop, 'have not been objective' and 'tend to present the situation better than it is'.


A decrease in the number of murders and attacks against churches and believers in Kosovo is not a sign of a considerable change in the Kosovo Albanians' attitude towards the Serbian people, he noted.


The bishop also spoke with regret about a slowdown in the creation of protected zones around Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo, adding that illegal construction has been carried out in many of them today.


'We have nothing to expect or to hope for when the solution of the problem is in the hands of Albanian institutions. We cannot receive protection from them; there is no guarantee that any agreement would be observed', the representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church said.


According to the bishop, in total 39 protected zones are to be created in Kosovo and Methochija, though there are 1300 churches in that area, and it means that these zones will cover only 3% of them.