An Article from Eas-Prizren Diocese Site:
August 21st 2006
While the Albanians, seeking to prove their Illyrian origin, claim the memorial churches of the NemanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ dynasty for their own, the Serbs are forbidden to call them Serbian.
During the night between Saturday and Sunday [August 5/6] unknown persons broke into and sacked the 14th century Church of the Most Holy Mother of God in Babin Most near ObiliÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡. The criminals removed grills over the windows and shattered the windows themselves on the back wall of the church. A fresco of Saint Stephen was stolen, as were vestments, sacred objects used in the performance of church services and 50,000 dinars. The Kosovo police confirmed that about ten icons and frescoes were removed from the walls and/or damaged. The total damage will be determined after the arrival of experts. Members of the Kosovo police force have begun their investigation.
This news was reported by the media over the past week-end (August 5th and 6th). But the date really does not matter, as this is just one instance in an ongoing process—one of 190 such “major or minor” instances in the past six months. From February to date, we have seen 190 attacks on the Serbian population and the Serbian churches and monasteries. In the past seven years, under the “protection” of the international community in Kosovo and Metohija, more than 150 Serbian medieval monuments have been destroyed—not because they were medieval but because they were Serbian.
Only a few weeks ago, just as the seventh round of Vienna talks about the protection of the cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija were in progress, UNESCO had put on its List of Natural and Cultural Heritage and on the List of Endangered World Heritage the Patriarchate of PeÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡, Monastery GraÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âanica and Bogorodica LjeviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ka under the designation “Medieval Monuments in Kosovo.” These three monuments were added to the Monastery of Visoki DeÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âani, which has been on the List since 2004. (See www.unesco.org
). The precise wording under which these monuments were added to the List removed, at least on paper, the “reason” for which the “monuments in Kosovo” were endangered. They were endangered because they were Serbian. Here we should remember the words of Prime Minister Agim ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬â„¢eku who said that religious and cultural heritage of Kosovo is common (!?) heritage and that therefore he personally would want to see it protected.
UNESCO and terrorism. His Grace Artemije, Bishop of Ras and Prizren, told the NIN reporter that the Holy Synod of Bishops will be asked to require that UNESCO “either revert to the original wording designating our holy places on its List as Serbian Monuments, or remove them from the List altogether, and the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian state will take care of them in the future as they had over past centuries.” The deletion of the designation “Serbian” from the List, which designation testifies to the identity of the creator of this cultural heritage (the Serbian people) as well as of their century-old owner (the Serbian Orthodox Church in general and the Diocese of Ras and Prizren in particular) is for Bishop Artemije “the most shameful act which this prestigious organization has perpetrated.)
“There still are in Kosovo and Metohija our holy places which are silent witnesses to the fact that Kosovo and Metohija have been for centuries and shall remain the Holy Land of Serbia. The most eloquent witnesses are precisely these four pearls of Serbian spirituality: the monasteries of Visoki DeÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âani, PeÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ka patrijarÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ija and GraÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âanica and the Church of Bogorodica LjeviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ka, which UNESCO “honored” by adding them to its List having first killed their soul and destroyed their identity. By taking away from them their designation—“Serbian” UNESCO is simply continuing what the Albanian Muslim terrorists had begun, and that is the eradication of all traces of the century-old presence, work and creativity of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. And all this is done for the sake of political objectives of those who had decided to reward the greatest ethnic cleansing and the greatest cultural genocide perpetrated at the beginning of the 21st century in Europe, which is the only way to describe what the Muslim Albanians have done in Kosovo and Metohija in the past seven years,” says Bishop Artemije, In conclusion he added: “In these dishonorable proceedings, those representatives of our country who were present at the adoption of this inhumane decision, will not be absolved of responsibility before the Serbian people and Serbian history for remaining silent and by their silence validating this decision. To say that these proceedings have done harm to the Serbian Orthodox Church would be gross understatement. They have completely marginalized and ignored the Church. The Church was not consulted; her opinion was not asked for; she was not treated as a partner while decisions were being made on such a vitally important matter.”
However, Dragoljub Najman, Serbia’s ambassador to UNESCO, says “that not one of about 850 entries in the List of Natural and Cultural World Heritage is attributed to a specific nationality” and “not one entry of 800 monuments on the List of World Heritage contains national characterization.” “Rules, stipulated by the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Monuments which is responsible for the compilation of a list of the most important monuments in the world, do not permit that monuments be designated as German, Austrian, French etc., because by their very nature they transcend such national considerations. They either belong to the world, or they are not on the List,” said Najman to the NIN reporter.
King Milutin and King Edward. If you visit the UNESCO site, you will see that on the whole this is true. There are of course names of countries mentioned but, to be entirely truthful, only as geographic designations. For instance: Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Australian Fossil Mammal Sites... And true, pyramids are not referred to as Egyptian, although the explanation states that we are dealing here with the old Egyptian kingdom. No more. In the case of our monasteries, Serbia is mentioned only as the country which had proposed these monuments for inclusion in the List of World Cultural Heritage. The accompanying explanation makes no mention that the monuments were erected in the medieval Serbia or that their building was ordered by King Milutin as his memorial foundations. On the other hand, in the section on British monuments we find castles and walled towns of Edward I in Gwynedd. Why could not, by analogy, GraÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âanica and Bogorodica LjeviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ka be described as medieval memorials of King Milutin in Kosovo? If needs be, even without the adjective “Serbian?”
Only the geographic designation was acceptable: Kosovo but without Metohija. Adjective “Serbian” had no chance at all, because the Albanians demanded that all monuments be designated only as Kosovo monuments. So says DuÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡an JanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ of the Forum for Ethnic Relations. So this was a compromise solution. “The discussion is on several levels. First, is the Serbian heritage Byzantine or not? Is Byzantium also part of Albanian heritage? Virtually everything here is debatable. This is part of those discussions which have not made it to the official documents. Although these topics exist in the documents and platforms of both Belgrade and PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina, they were fortunately avoided in discussions. That is why this neutral alternative of “Kosovo” as designation was used. But the fight begins, as far as the Belgrade side is concerned, with the desrie to avoid legislation, to avoid legislation of Kosovo.” This is JanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ explained to NIN.
IN the course of the past seven years, everything Serbian in Kosovo has been slated for destruction. At risk is the very adjective “Serbian.” And now we see that even UNESCO wishes to eliminate it?
“That is not UNESCO’s business,” is Najman’s brief reply but he adds: “UNESCO identifies on the global level the monuments which merit to be put on the List of the World Cultural Heritage. Medieval monuments in Kosovo are also on the List of Monuments of the World Cultural Heritage, which are endangered by the environment. The participating country, in this case Serbia, is under the obligation to report each year on the state of these monuments, on what has been done for these monuments should they be endangered. UNESCO will use its resources, start campaigns, make appeals, and the Director General will intervene. The greater the number of people who know about our monasteries, the more protected they will be.”
Najman further adds that, from now on, ever time a single stone is moved from its place, this will be regarded as an attack on the cultural heritage of the world. “Because for every entry on the List there are specific plans clearly showing what each monument entails. A monument on the List does not consist of only the building, or a specific area around the building. We have included maps and photographs for each monument proposed so that it is absolutely clear what needs to be protected. The participation of any other entity in this process is absolutely impossible,” so he asserts, “because these monuments were proposed by the participating country and that country is Serbia. It is the proposal of Serbia concerning monuments on Serbian territory in accordance with the Un Security Council Resolution 1244.”
But the UNESCO decision cannot be understood without the Vienna subtext. One of the reasons for this is that UNESCO experts, together with the experts of the European Council made a proposal for Mahti Ahtisaari (Office of International Negotiators —UNOSEC) asking for 15 protection zones (Belgrade had asked for 39). It is expected that Velka HoÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âa and Prizren will soon be visited to determine more precisely the boundaries of these zones. New talks about the cultural heritage are expected to take place at the end of August. At these talks 40 monuments will be discussed although there are 1,300 registered churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija. So that 3% of the total number of churches and monasteries will be discussed in Vienna. “Ahtisaari’s UNOSEK and the Albanian side have reduced this number to 12 (possibly 15) items, barely 1% of our entire heritage. This is worse than disgraceful. When we are talking about the need for protection and are told that only 3% will be protected, it does not mean that we shall abandon the remaining 97% to the tender mercies of vandals and criminals,” says Bishop Artemije.
An Albanian pre-NemanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ church. In addition to the criminals we find that archeologists are also active in Kosovo. Professor Djordje JankoviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡, President of the Serbian Archeological Society, says that two years ago Albanian archeologists were working on the site of the Serbian medieval city in Novo Brdo, specifically on a church which they have conserved. “I have heard that they dated the Church as going back to the 12th century, proclaimed it as preceding the NemanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ dynasty and claimed for their own. This sort of thing has probably happened in other places as well. I know that they were digging in Veliko Trnovo and found some artifacts. These artifacts have reached PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina and were written up in Austrian journal,” says Prof. JankoviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡, Ph. D. Also, NIN has information that in recent years Albanian archeologists have been searching for the ruins of the ancient Illyrian city of Damastion in Novo Brdo. They have reportedly obtained funds for researching 24 sites in Kosovo. Serbian archeologists from PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina say that after their departure from Kosovo there were four Albanian archeologists left: two in the Museum of Ci, one in the City and one in the Provincial Institute for the Protection of Monuments. They say that is physically impossible for only four archeologists to research 24 cites, and that they must be getting help from Albania.
It is interesting to hear that the negotiating teams from PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina and Belgrade are also at odds about the collection of exhibits from the prehistoric period to the Middle Ages, which have earlier been kept in the Museum of PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina. PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina is very interested in these exhibits and has asked Belgrade for their return. Belgrade will not return them.
JankoviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ explains: “According to our laws, the National Museum I Belgrade is responsible for the entire territory of our country, including Kosovo and Metohija. So the National Museum of Belgrade as the right to decide where specific exhibits will be kept if there is a question of their safety. Just before the conflict, the collection was exhibited in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art [in Belgrade] and was simply not returned to PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina because it was not considered safe to do so. We are dealing with objects from prehistoric times up to the Middle Ages, which are an integral part of the Serbian heritage. For example, if we are talking of prehistory, there was mention of some figurines representing an Illyrian goddess from the VinÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âa culture. The figurines belong to the VinÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âa culture, whose center is near Belgrade. There is a peripheral area of the VinÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âa culture in Kosovo. The collection contains artifacts from the Iron Age and from ancient times, as well as jewelry dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries which is of particular interest to us. The jewelry was found in a variety of locations, such as MatiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âane near PriÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡tina and Badovci near GraÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âanica. These sites are characteristic of Serbian culture.”
And the churches which the NemanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡i restored, or those on whose ruins they built new ones, belonged to the Archdiocese of Ohrid. This archdiocese was formally under the jurisdiction of Rome with the consent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, but was nonetheless an integral part of the life of the Orthodox Church. “Those were churches with. This was no Roman Catholic archdiocese. Thus under the foundations of GraÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âanica an older church was found and in the vicinity of GraÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âanica an 11th century cemetery was found and in it jewelry similar to the jewelry found in MatiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âania i Badovci,” says JankoviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡.
About the early Albanians, JankoviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ says that they came to this area in the 11th century from Asia and that they wore jewelry of a different design, a design characteristic for the Caucasian area and other eastern locations. “This is jewelry belonging to the local culture. So it is clear what we are talking about. For instance, in the Church of the Holy Archangels we found Slavic pottery from the 11th century. There was a church on that site which preceded the church built by Czar DuÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡an. Slavic pottery was found also in the Studenica Hvostanska, a 6th century monastery, as well as all over Kosovo and Metohija. It was found in Banjska in the Patriarchate of PeÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦ There are the ruins of a church near DeÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âani with a tetraconchal base in a shape of a cross with rounded ends. It is analogous in every detail with churchs to the south and to the east. This type of church is found near Ohrid, Athenes and Constantinople. It is simply an example of Orthodox architecture.”
The question, then, is who had damaged these earlier churches? Damaged they were, or else why would the NemanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡i have to restore them? Someone had tried to destroy them. Were they damaged in one of the wars? “One must think of the Normans, who made incursions into Byzantium in the 11th and 12th centuries. One cannot exclude the Crusaders. Nor can one exclude the Albanians who settled in this area. These are but speculations without any research work. But Nemanja was baptized in the Church of Saint Peter, in Ras the See of the Diocese of Ras which was under the jurisdiction of the Archbisho of Ohrid. Why would Nemanja want to destroy these churches?” Asks Professor JankoviÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡.
And archeological research has always, but always, been very fertile ground for manipulation. How difficult is it to move archeological materials from Macedonia or Albania to the northern part of Kosovo for example? Or how difficult would it be to plant a few ceramic fragments and offer them as proof that a 13th century monastery lies on top of an Illyrian site. Nothing is difficult when one is intent on proving one’s primacy.
While the Albanians in their search for evidence of their Illyrian origin are claiming the memorials of the NemanjiÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¾ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¡i for their own, the Serbs are denied the right to call themselves Serbian. That is why, Mr. Unesco, it would be better to delete us from your List altogether!