Forbidden: Defrocked Priest-Monk Father Ksenofont of the Orthodox Eparchy of Ras-Prizren in Exile in Kosovo - For Educational Purposes

KFOR Mission in Kosovo: Ethnic Cleansing of Serbs and Slavs for Albanian Killers

Download audio file  14 June 2012, 16:22

Interview with Priest-Monk Father Ksenofont from the Orthodox Eparchy of Ras-Prizren in Exile in Kosovo.

Regarding the events of last Friday and over the weekend in Northern Kosovo, what has the church done to help the victims of the KFOR violence?

Well, I can talk as a Priest-Monk of the Diocese of Ras-Prizren in Exile and can't speak on behalf of the whole of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, the events that we’ve seen, the last couple of days are not surprising because it’s just continuation of the politics of the so-called international community led by NATO in Kosovo fighting for enabling and functionality of the independent Kosovo.

Although the mandate of KFOR from the very beginning in 1999 was to establish substantial autonomy of Kosovo, Serbia, or at the time the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that is Serbia and Montenegro.

From the very beginning they did a big job of helping the Albanian national minority in Kosovo, separating Kosovo from the rest of Serbia.

The small part of Northern Kosovo where the Serbs still combat in accordance to the resolution from 44 not allowing the Albanians to engulf them and to ethnically cleanse even these last parts of Kosovo where Serbs lived with others. So we shouldn’t forget that in Northern Kosovo there is also a number of Albanians, Serbs, Bosnians and other ethnic minorities so that they won't engulf the last parts of Kosovo where Serbs live in prison.  And KFOR puts itself in the role of helping Albanians in doing that.

In this regard you said that they’re more or less involved in ethnic cleansing in Kosovo?

Well, yes, you know, like I told you, the mission of KFOR in Kosovo, the mission of international organisms in Kosovo since ’99, was to establish a peaceful quiet environment. Unfortunately, the whole of Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed from Serbs. And today, paradoxically, nobody poses the question: why Kosovo has been almost totally ethnically cleansed from Kosovo Serbs? So from every city in Kosovo today you would find a handful of Serbs only living in some enclaves around Kosovo, but the cities; totally ethnically cleansed. For example you have, in Pristina, which had a 40,000 Serbian community before the conflict and which has a handfull of Serbs living a ghetto-like life.

They’re all in ghettos, you say?

Most of the Serbs from Kosovo have gone to the rest of Serbia. There are some enclaves in Kosovo, some Serbian villages where still Serbs live so, where now, these clashes with KFOR have been. In the rest of Kosovo the Serbs are some 130 to 150 thousand. For example, I’m one of the people living in the enclaves here with the people in the so called Sredska-Zhupa within Kosovo in the village called Brezovica on the mountain of Šara.

Can you give is a little bit of the history of the Orthodox Church in Exile of Ras-Prizren?

I don’t know how much your listeners are in course of the history of Kosovo itself, the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, especially in the last decade or two. But many of them certainly have heard the name of bishop Artemije who was the Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Ras-Prizren. He was a remarkable man who in the last two decades managed to make a real Renaissance: revival of the monastic and spiritual life in Kosovo and the diocese of Ras-Prizren had a flourishing and monastic life both of monks and nuns. There were more monks and nuns in his diocese a few years ago than in the whole of the rest of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On the other hand, bishop Artemije was a very principled man concerning both the teaching of the Orthodox Church which somehow in the last years was very much compromised by the influence of Eccuminism all over the Orthodox world and Bishop Artemije fought against this influence of Eccuminism which he himself and holy fathers before him called a pan-heresey. On the other hand Bishop Artemije was an outspoken defender of the protection of international law in Kosovo that is keepsaking the Kosovo as the most precious, most holy part of Serbia; and a part of Serbian history, a part of Serbian tradition and a part of Serbian spirituality within Serbia .

Unfortunately, the developments in Serbia in last years which we have been witnessing, that regime in Serbia led by the Democratic Party and these last years by President Tadić was very much inclined to accept many of the blackmails coming from the side of the Western countries who recognized independence of Kosovo.

Bishop Artemije was an outspoken critic of these politics, of many of the aspects of the politics of president Tadic and in 2010, unfortunately some parts of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which were very much inclined to subdue to this secular influence of the Serbian state, understood, or accepted the fact that bishop Artemije represents a very big obstacle to the causes, to the ideas, of finally realizing the idea of independent Kosovo.

A way should have been found to remove bishop Artemije from Kosovo and the supposed financial problems within the dioceses were found and Bishop Artemije deposed. I must emphasize that until today these financial accusations haven’t been proven although they have been in the court for the last two years. Bishop Artemije removed, deposed from his post, many of us monks and nuns and some priests who were his faithful spiritual children decided to follow Bishop Artemije in his spiritual exile opposing ourselves to this injustice and raising our voice. Many of the Serbs today in Serbia, I would say, and with every day even more, understand the just cause and the just fight and struggle Bishop Artemije and his monastics are fighting in Serbia.

What percentage of the population in Serbia and in Kosovo are followers of the Orthodox Church?

I would say some 80% of the population today of Serbia are Orthodox. Kosovo itself represents the holiest part of Serbia with a very rich number of medieval monasteries and churches. One should not forget the monasteries at Gracanica, Visoki Decani, Banjska, the church (Ogroits Tsarevich?) in Prizren because in medieval times Kosovo itself was the center of Serbian state and the place where the Serbian king sat. We have to mention that since the arrival of international so-called Peace Forces to Kosovo we had more than 150 churches destroyed. One third of these churches and monasteries are medieval monuments, some of those really jewels of medieval Serbian Orthodox architecture and art, with many icons destroyed and burned.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is the second oldest Orthodox Church in the world and holds many Christian relics including, I believe the right, hand of John the Baptist.

Yes, the hand of John the Baptist is being kept in the Diocese of Montenegro and there are many others of course. Serbian Orthodox Church has a very old history, a very rich history and very rich spirituality. This is exactly the reason why we have to fight and we have to offer everything, including our lives for protecting this patrimony.

Addendum: Neither the Serbian Orthodox Church nor the Russian Orthodox Church recognize a network of catacomb churches and monasteries, called the Rasko-Prizrenska Diocese in Exile and headed by former bishop Artemije. In May 2011, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill sent a letter to his Serbian counterpart to assure that no Russian Orthodox Church bishop or cleric will contact former bishop Artemije and his supporters.

In February 2010, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church suspended Artemije from managing the Rasko-Prizrenska Diocese after claims of fraud and financial mismanagement that were in place in this structure. In November 2010, a decision was made to defrock Artemije because he and his supporters “embarked on the road of an open rift.”

 

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