21 March 2008

Serbs Must Remember The Message of Kosovo

Glas Javnosti: Interview with Bishop Artemije

By Hadži Petar Pašiæ


INTERVIEW: GLAS is researching the question: How to chose between the two historical formulas presented to the voters at the elections slated for May 11, namely „Both Europe and Kosovo“ and „To Europe only together with Kosovo?“

1. QUESTION: Which platform would you favor on May 11 „Both Europe (EU) and Kosovo“, or “To Europe (EU) only together with Kosovo?“

ANSWER: The first platform „Both Europe and Kosovo“ is a very well contrived trap designed to mislead and deceive people. The proponents and supporters of that proposition have so far failed to show in any way how Kosovo could be retained within Serbia with the help of those countries from EU which have done their utmost to bring about the secession of Kosovo from Serbia and could hardly wait to recognize the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo’s independence while completely disregarding all principles of international law.The other platform: “To Europe (EU) only together with Kosovo” is in itself both understandable and logical. Its proponents are not against Serbia’s working closer with or joining the European Union. They simply insist on joining the union as a complete state with her borders intact as recognized by numerous existing international legal documents. It is for the European Union to say whether it wants that kind of Serbia or whether it wants the corpse of Serbia without her natural heart which is Kosovo and Metohija. It is on the answer to that question that Serbia’s next move will depend.

2. QUESTION: Those who until yesterday were President Boris Tadiæ’s coalition partners reproach him today that in his formula “Both Europe and Kosovo” he undeniably favors Serbia’s membership in the European Union. And Tadiæ’s response is that he gives equal priority to EU and Kosovo. What do you think is Tadiæ’s true position, and what is good and what is bad in it for Serbia?

ANSWER: Everything in it is bad. As a member of the Socialist International (SI), which has always wholeheartedly supported Marti Ahtisaari’s plan and now supports the independence of Kosovo, the Democratic Party (DS) and its president, who is also the President of Serbia, Boris Tadiæ, can obviously do nothing for the good of Serbia and Kosovo which is not in accordance with the program of that international organization. For all the members of the Socialist International, including DS and its president, obligations to that organization are binding and supersede all others. Whatever happens, DS will carry out orders of SI, even when they are in opposition to our national interests. These “orders” stand far above all those “primitive” feelings, such as patriotism, religion, feeling for human dignity etc. One must point out that membership of DS in SI is in fact against our Constitution because SI is bent on destroying our state — a fact which is not known to our public. We must imperatively demand that DS leave the Socialist International and declare clearly that it will either respect the Constitution of Serbia or be a member of the Socialist International, because these two things are absolutely incompatible.

3. QUESTION: Are Tadiæ’s opponents right when they say that “Both Kosovo and Europe” will, in fact, be reduced to nothing more than the simultaneous repetition of the mantra that Belgrade does not and never will recognize “the state of Kosovo” and constant retreat before the actual growth of the second Albanian state while missing every opportunity to parry even those attacks which this weak Serbia could and must parry?

ANSWER: Yes, obviously. Because Tadiæ will continue to do what he has been doing and to behave as if nothing had happened at all, as if Kosovo and Metohija had not been taken from us by force. The old rhetoric will be of no significance, because by doing nothing which might show active and factual disagreement with the fait accompli, he will, in fact, make it clear that he tacitly accepts the newly-created situation as a reality, and that would be tantamount to recognizing the independence of Kosovo. Serbia must not allow that to happen.

4. QUESTION: Do you think that Tadiæ is realistic when he says that, unless the “anti Europe bloc” spoils Serbia’s chances after May 11, Serbia will be in the European Union in five or six years’ time, which is for Serbia the necessary condition for get economically strong enough and preserving Kosovo?

ANSWER: No, I don’t think so. On the contrary, that is a tall story with which to deceive the Serbian people in order to achieve some purely party or personal goals. Because it is simply not possible that our President with all his numerous counselors, is not aware of the letter which Mr. Willie Wimmer, who at the time was the Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE wrote to Mr. Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany, in May 2000 on the occasion of the conference held in Bratislava regarding the expansion of NATO. The Conference was attended by very highly placed political representatives, such as a large number of prime ministers, ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of defense from that region. Of the numerous important topics discussed, for us at this time the most important is section 8 which literally states that: „Serbia must be excluded from European development for a long time.” At this point we must point out that during the past eight years EU has kept Serbia in a very uncomfortable position, insisting on conditions of “further integrations,” which tallies exactly with Wimmer’s letter. One should be honest with one’s own people and tell them openly that, judging by all available evidence, “the European option” does not exist and, therefore, we must turn to another source for possibilities of survival. That such possibilities exist must be obvious to those who have political wisdom and honesty.

5. QUESTION: If Serbia joins EU even in 2013, would that make it possible to regain Kosovo? In real terms, by how much would the membership in EU improve Serbian chances in view of the fact that she may also be asked to recognize the “state of Kosovo,” and that, having recognized Priština, Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy would certainly not draw back before Serbia who no matter how much stronger would at that moment still be a third-rate power?

ANSWER: Even if that “miracle” were to happen, even if EU were to embrace Serbia albeit no earlier than 2013, it certainly would not be enough to make it possible for Serbia to get Kosovo and Metohija back under her jurisdiction. EU will never be Serbia’s ally in the question of Kosovo. It would be far more likely that, having met all humiliating conditions which will be imposed upon her, Serbia will have to face the final condition, namely the recognition of the “state of Kosovo” before she could join EU. Serbia, or rather her leadership after May 11, will have to find another path to regaining Kosovo and Metohija of which she was so brazenly robbed. This objective will have to be worked on in a consistent manner and realized when geopolitical conditions are ripe.

6. QUESTION: Are you worried that Priština’s and Tirana’s ratings in Washington and Brussels are much higher than that of Belgrade. This also means that Priština may very well join EU before Belgrade and that democratic Serbia will be a dollar short and a day late even if Tadiæ and his platform „Both Kosovo and Europe” win the elections on May 11?

ANSWER: One shouldn’t worry but it could easily happen. Not because of the great quality and wisdom of Priština and its leaders, but because it is in the interests of Brussels and Washington. Tadiæ’s victory on May 11 may bring Serbia a notch nearer to EU, but it would move her very much further away from herself. It would alienated her from her historical and spiritual roots which would be the greatest tragedy for the Serbian people. A little more food on one’s plate will not solve all problems.

7. QUESTION: The critics and political competitors of Vojislav Koštunica are already ringing alarm bells saying that his historical electoral campaign motto “To Europe only together with Kosovo,“ will only aggravate his quarrel with EU and USA, that he will lose his chance to strengthen Serbia’s economic position and improve her international standing and make it impossible for Serbia, thus strengthened, to bring back Kosovo under her jurisdiction from within the European Union. What do you consider to be the strengths and the weaknesses of the prime minister’s stand?

ANSWER: The platform of Mr. Koštunica is not a quarrel with EU and the USA. He is not doing anything to spite them. His platform is a clear presentation of what Serbia can accept. The story about a strengthened Serbia being able to regain Kosovo „from within Europe“ is a fairytale for little children. The strengths and weaknesses of the Prime Minister’s stand can be seen in answers already given.

8. QUESTION: In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister’s stand might aggravate the relations with Brussels and Washington now and in the next few years, does it improve Serbia’s chances of regaining Kosovo and Metohija in the near future? Does that stand, as DSS claims, offer better protection for Serbia’s historically legitimate claims on Kosovo and Metohija because it would enable her to reclaim it if the balance of powers were to change and be more favorable to Serbia?

ANSWER: This response of the Prime Minister does not worsen our relations with Brussels. Our relations with Brussels simply could not be worse. Therefore, Serbia’s chances of reclaiming Kosovo with the aid of Brussels and Washington are non-existent. But it is both possible and realistic to expect to regain Kosovo if the balance of powers changes. As to trying to predict the timing of events, that is a thankless job. But hope never dies.

9. QUESTION: What, if anything, has Serbia got to lose with the motto “To Europe only together with Kosovo,” considering that the former German ambassador to Belgrade was so indiscreetly frank and well-meaning when he revealed to the Serbs the precious truth, which was not intended for their ears, that they would not join EU before 2025?

10. ANSWER: There is no doubt that the mighty of this world do not tolerate opposition well, particularly when it is offered by someone much weaker than they are. Therefore, new attempts at blackmail, new pressures on Serbia, new humiliations, perhaps even more territorial reductions are bound to come. As for Cobel, it would appear that he, too, was ignorant of the decision taken at the conference in Bratislava. He evidently hadn’t read the letter of Mr. Wimmer when he so generously promised that the Serbs would join EU in 2025. Short of some great disturbances in the international community, if EU is still in existence in 2025, it would still be a forbidden fruit for the Serbs. Always on condition that Serbia herself still exists as an independent state.

11. QUESTION: Given the Prime Minister’s stand, is Serbia in danger of being again diplomatically and economically isolated and punished, even without formal sanctions?

ANSWER: That also is possible in view of the current attitude of EU towards Serbia and all Serbs. To avoid this Serbia must, with great political, wisdom find for herself other partners to whom she will turn and who will understand and value her. And these are not few in the world. I don’t have only Russia in mind. If Serbia wants to cease being continually rejected by Europe, she herself must turn her back on it.

12. QUESTION: Are fears — and warnings — that with Koštunica as her leader Serbia risks to be left without either Kosovo or Europe justified?

ANSWER: It is simply a bit of psychological blackmail. Serbia cannot and must not ever give up Kosovo, but give up Europe and the conditions it is imposing it can and it must give up. To EU without Kosovo? Wild horses would not drag us there. EU could never be a compensation for losing Kosovo and Metohija. Accepting the membership in EU without Kosovo is tantamount to renouncing Kosovo and recognizing its independence. Serbia must never do that. It would be like committing suicide for Serbia to do that. If she did, she would lose her spirit and her soul. She would, in fact, be a rotting corpse.

13. QUESTION: Are the Serbs choosing between the formula “To Europe at all cost” and the formula “Kosovo is Serbia at all cost?” Is there a way to avoid this either or choice? Is Kosovo and Metohija worth more suffering for the entire nation? Have the Serbs of today the right to renounce the most valuable part of their spiritual and national identity for the sake of “a better life?”?

ANSWER: Kosovo is not and has never been the cause of the suffering of “the entire nation.” Rather it has been, it has signified the salvation of the entire nation. And so it is today. Those who recognize only the criteria of this world say that Kosovo has led us into five centuries of slavery under the Turks and therefore caused the suffering of “the entire nation.” The others who recognize also other criteria, spiritual criteria, say that Kosovo has made us strong, it has given us the power to withstand the five centuries of Turkish occupation and to live long enough to see the sun of freedom rise again. And the sun rose in Kosovo. These two visions of Kosovo exist even today. There is no price we can put on Kosovo. Never. It is for this reason that not only “the Serbs of today,” but also the Serbs of future generations have no right to renounce their Kosovo for the sake of “a better life.” The generation which could do that, instead of finding “a better life,” will find spiritual death after which there is no resurrection.

14. QUESTION: On whom will the curse fall of our coming generations and our history — on those who say we should go with Europe at any cost, or on those who are for Kosovo at any cost?

ANSWER: The answer to that question was given a long time ago, on the feast of Saint Vitus, on Vidovdan.

His Grace Artemije

Bishop of Raška - Prizren and Kosovo - Metohija