Determining and Integrating Kosovo and Metohija: Ethnicity, Religion and Citizenship as Causal Factors

Article excerpt

Victor Hugo wrote in timeless testimony of the Serbs, as though speaking of the contemporary plight of the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija: "They are killing an entire people!" "Where?" "In Europe!" "Is there anyone who can bear witness?" "There is one witness." "The entire world!"

March 2004 Pogrom

This poignant reality again was evidenced in our day during the pogrom of 17-19 March 2004, which saw extreme Albanian on Serbian violence in Kosovo, signaling the complete breakdown, if not failure, of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (KFOR). According to UN statistics, 50,000 Albanians--in the presence of 18,000 NATO "peacekeepers"--drove 4,500 Serbs and other non-Albanians from their homes, injured 900, including 150 peacekeepers, and killed 19 persons. With 33 synchronized flashpoints, all of Kosovo was engulfed in flames, as over 800 homes, many of which had recently been rebuilt by the International Community for repatriated Serbs, were looted and demolished.

In addition to the loss of precious human lives, the desecration of tombs, and the obliteration of anything bearing the sign of the Cross, which is in complete violation of the international norms on the manifestation of religious symbols, as a representative of the Church, that which pains us the most is the destruction of 35 additional churches and shrines, including those which date back to the 12th and 14th centuries. The intended result is the complete cultural, religious, and historical eradication of any Serbian presence in Kosovo and Metohija, and the obliteration of religious freedom.

In the area of Prizren alone, the Church of the Theotokos, or Virgin of Ljevis, known as the "Notre Dame" of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which was set on tire, represents the loss of world heritage as its unique and irreplaceable fresco of the Virgin and Child is now charred and ruined. The Cathedral Church of St. George was raised and pillaged, with the inscription "Death to Serbs" written in graffiti on the arch above the once main portal, while "Down with UNMIK" was scribbled on the side of the church and the perpetrators' signature piece UCK or KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) was placed on the columns of the former narthex. Thousands of volumes of priceless books were destroyed as the Episcopal Residence was torched, and an innocent victim was burned alive, seeking shelter in the Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

Given the above horrific statistics coupled with those of the past five years, that is from the time of the 1999 NATO-brokered international "peace," which witnessed the expulsion of 250,000 refugees, 1,000 kidnapped, and 1,200 murdered, and in a sustained attempt at expunging the sacerdotal Serbian presence (of the original 1,657 churches, monasteries, and monuments, over 115 were destroyed, added to the 35 above for a total of 150--reiterating all during the time of peace and not war), it becomes obvious that the intended Kosovar Albanian goal is regional destabilization, leading to an independent Kosovo and eventual annexation to Albania proper. The end result is the creation of a "Greater Albania," free and cleansed of not only all Serbs, but also all non-Albanians, including the purging of the International Community.

Causes and Considerations

As internal strife and violence are thoroughly incapable of substantiating a just and enduring peace, so also international "humanitarian" interventionist policies in Kosovo and Metohija completely failed to promote a stable and prosperous civil society, and a healthy foundation for nation building. What are, therefore, critical factors that will preserve the delicate balance between considerations of ethnic identity and religious adherence, the right to citizenship and national determination, and regional cooperation and external affiliation with the international community?

Located at the very gate of East and West, Southeastern Europe remains a crossroad for the convergence of civilizations and the clash of faiths, cultures, and traditions. …