Statement on KFOR’s intent to transfer protection of Serbian holy shrines and monuments to the Kosovo Police

Statement of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija

The Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija expresses its serious concern due to KFOR’s intent to transfer protection of the memorial at Gazimestan to the jurisdiction of the Kosovo Police. Earlier this month (March 2) during a meeting between Bishop Atanasije and Bishop’s Deputy Teodosije with the KFOR commander, German General Bentler, in Gračanica Monastery, it was clearly said that it is unacceptable for this Diocese and the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija that holy shrines and buildings protected by KFOR be transferred to the protection of the Kosovo Police. Especially worrisome is that this intention is again coming up on the anniversary of the March Pogrom against the Serbs and the Serbian Church six years ago. We emphasize that the KPS does not inspire confidence in either the Church or the Serbian community in this southern province of Serbia. The transfer of the protection of the memorial in Gazimestan is not good because it can open the question of continued protection for other Serbian church and national Holy Shrines and Cultural Monuments.

The Holy Synod of Bishops for this very reason recently sent a delegation headed by Bishop Teodosije, which visited Berlin and Paris in order to present the concern of the SOC and her faithful following the decision to reduce KFOR forces to the political representatives of Germany and France, and to point out dangers that may destabilize the situation in this region. With the same aim, a SOC delegation headed by Bishop Teodosije already visited Rome (in December 2009) and Brussels (in January this year), where it discussed these issues with representatives of the Italian government, and NATO and the European Union, respectively.

From the Information Service of the Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija
Prizren-Gračanica, March 18, 2010