Gracanitsa, August 7, 2010
The communiqué was signed by Bishop Theodosius of Liplian. It states that the decision of the commanding contingency of General Markus Bentler to transfer the function of guarding Gracanitsa to the Kosovo Police and “begin thereby the process of passing responsibility for protecting one of the most significant holy shrines of the Serbian Orthodox Church to the Kosovo police” creates a serious threat to the safety of the holy places on the territory of Kraja. The decision by the upper echelons of NATO was made regardless of the many witnesses to the fact that the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metochia do not trust the Kosovo police force because of its manifest disregard for the destruction of Serbian holy places, especially during the progrom of 2004. The decision was called in the communiqué, “openly politically motivated,” and made with the aim of creating an appearance of “supposed improvement in the safety of the situation,” covering up the “bitter truth of serious violations of human rights and religious freedom.”
The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Rasko-Prizren diocese are firmly convinced that by relinquishing the KFOR positions in the remaining eight Serbian monasteries, they put the safety of these holy places and of those monastics who live in them under threat. KFOR continues to ignore the Church’s position on this matter.
The Serbian Church is further convinced that this decision is untimely and risky, and this conviction is well known to the NATO representatives after the many meetings the Church’s representatives had with General Secretary of NATO Rasmussen, and the ambassadors of the Northern Atlantic Council and commanding forces of NATO in Europe, American Admirals Stavridis and Fitzgerald.
In this context, the announcement that Gracanitsa would be transferred to the care of the Kosovo police is, in the opinion of the Church representatives, a propaganda move by the KFOR commanders. The Kosovo police cannot protect the Serbian monasteries without the Church’s agreement, and this “protection” will not have any serious significance.
According to the communiqué, NATO representatives have been informed that in case of KFOR’s relinquishment of its protection, the Church will be forced to provide is own independent, supplementary protection of its sites using barbed wire and the construction of additional walls.
The Church representatives emphasized that this move by KFOR, made without the agreement of the Serbian Orthodox Church, further destabilizes the situation in Kraja, and undermines any trust the Serbian people had for the international peace-keeping forces. It is an alarming signal to the Serbian people who remain in Kosovo and Metochia, and concludes the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian population in that area.