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Bishop Artemije: Serbia Will Never Agree to Detachment of Kosovo and Metohija

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 PRNewswire -- Direct from talks in Brussels with the European Commission and European Parliament, Bishop Artemije, spiritual leader of the Christian Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija, today begins a week of talks regarding the future of the province. Under a proposal made February 2 by the United Nations special envoy, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, Kosovo would be detached from Serbia and put on a path to independence. The Ahtisaari plan immediately was rejected by the Serbian government and Holy Hierarchical Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Bishop Artemije: "The [Ahtisaari] proposal is unacceptable to us because it presupposes the separation of Kosovo from Serbia and as such will never be accepted either by the Kosovo Serbs nor the Serbian state. Only a solution found through talks and compromise can be a lasting solution. If the international community imposes a solution it will not bring peace and stability to the region, but rather it will destabilize the region." (Reuters, Feb 2.) Serbia has offered the widest possible autonomy for Kosovo and its large Albanian Muslim population, but Kosovo Albanians threaten further violence if their demands are not met.

Under United Nations civil administration and NATO military control since the 1999, Kosovo has become a black hole of corruption and organized crime activity. Approximately 250,000 Christian Serbs - some two-thirds of their pre-war population -- has been terrorized from the province, along with similar proportions of Roma (Gypsies), Croats, Ashkali, Gorani, and other groups, along with entire Jewish community. Some 150 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries, many of them of world cultural significance, have been demolished or damaged, and new attacks occur on a daily basis.

Bishop Artemije will ask Congressional and the Bush Administration to withdraw their support for Kosovo independence, which would mean:

* Eradication of the remaining Christian Serbs from Kosovo, the cradle of Serbia's spiritual and national life, and rewarding violence and intolerance;

* Creation of a rogue Islamic state in Europe, ruled by terrorist and organized crime figures who are members of the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army," which would destabilize entire west Balkan region and strengthen the terrorist threat to Europe; and

* Violation of all accepted rules of international law, including the U.N. Charter, if a settlement is imposed detaching part of a state's integral territory without its consent, a precedent that would mean destabilization of numerous countries with large ethnic and religious minorities.

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