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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Date Posted:
5/8/2006


The EU And The UN Are The Vatican’s Tools In The Balkans


Crushing the Orthodox Church in Serbia - Part 3
Dr Clive Gillis

When the Bishop of Rome was seeking primacy among the Christian bishops, the Greek Orthodox Church was busy building a strong Orthodox bloc in the Balkans by the conversion of newly settling tribes.

The Serbian Orthodox Church in the west and the Bulgarian in the east eventually proclaimed independence from the Greek Church.

Then came Islam with the Ottoman conquest.  The Turkish empire lasted from the 13th to the 19th centuries.  But Serbia kept her Orthodox culture alive and it was still in existence right across the whole of the Western Balkans when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

Rome on the attack

Rome began to move against Serbian Orthodoxy long before the arrival of the Turks.  Pope Gregory VII ‑ the Pope before whom the Holy Roman Emperor had grovelled ‑ granted Grand Zupan Michael (1050‑80) of Serbia a papal kingship and later King Stephen I Nemanja and his family converted to Rome.

King Stephen’s Orthodox brother, Rastko, acted immediately. He became the revered Saint Sava.  Rastko created the Serbian Church as a separate entity and in doing so created the Serbian state and culture.  The term Saint‑Savaism, often used contemptuously, sums this up. As one writer puts it, “Saint Savaism regards the nation as holy because of its identification with the only true faith ... With all their heart the people want a holy church, holy school, holy culture, holy dynasty, holy authorities, holy state and ‑ holy army”

Under King Stephen Dushan, Serbia came to stretch almost to Athens.  But Dushan was very hostile to the Roman Catholic Church.  Article 6 of his code punished with death any Serbian who adhered to the “Latin heresy”, or any Latin ecclesiastic who sought to make proselytes.

After the collapse of the Ottoman empire, Rome determined to counter ‘Saint Savaism’.  The campaign continues to this day.  Thus in 1913, Roman Catholic Europe prevented Serbia from absorbing some of the Serbian Orthodox areas of Albania which might have yielded Serbia access to the sea.  After World War II, President Tito persistently blocked Serbian expansion within Yugoslavia.

Now the Serbs ate likely to lose Montenegro.  It is scheduled to hold a referendum on independence on 21st May.  Montenegrins number 43% and Serbs 32%.  A leaked secret video reveals vote rigging.  Serb politician Budimir Aleksic lamented that deputies of the ruling party are paying hooligans to beat up eminent intellectuals only because they belong to a different nation and have differing political views.

Serbs scotched in Kosovo

Worse still for the Serbs, the Serbian President Vojislav Kostunica has recently capitulated over Kosovo.

Following Serbian attempts in the 1990s to reassert power there, NATO and the US made it a UN protectorate.  Since then half of the Serbs have fled from Albanian Moslem persecution.  Those remaining live in fear.  President Kostunica, a former communist, believes that Serbia’s best option is to reject her Orthodox past and embrace Europe.  Talks for joining the EU in 2012 are well advanced.  But the Financial Times of 7th April, in a leader headed “Some Balkan states may find EU’s door closed,” spelled out how France and Germany, fearing Turkey’s EU bid, are resisting further expansion.

Olli Rehn, the European Union enlargement commissioner, says Croatia’s bid is assured but that he has a fight on his hands keeping Europe’s doors open to the remaining Balkan states.

If Serbia wants admission to the EU, it will have to Europeanise fast and not quibble over Kosovo.  A papal visit from Benedict XVI to Belgrade would do much to advance Serbia’s cause.  Boris Tadic, President of Serbia, visited the pope in the Vatican in 2005 to extend just such an invitation.

The fact is that Kosovo is the cradle of Serbian Orthodoxy.  It is thick with ancient Orthodox churches, monasteries and shrines and tradition.  During Ottoman rule many Moslem Albanians settled in Kosovo.  Tito granted Kosovo autonomy in 1974 and after his death Kosovo sought full independence.  But Milosevic rescinded this autonomy.  So in 1991 the Kosovo Albanians declared unilateral independence.  Milosevic’s determination to secure Kosovo was obstructed by the Moslem Albanian Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA).  Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries were their particular target.  Milosevic’s attempts to recapture Kosovo were finally halted by the Nato bombing of Kosovo and Serbia including Belgrade in march 1999.

The Vatican's influence

The Vatican has Permanent Observer Status at the UN with untold opportunities for secret lobbying and it is continually making political interventions.

UN reports that were used to demonise Serbia in the 90’s are now surfacing.  Thus one such report blames, “the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo market”.  Yet this incident was always labelled a Serb aggression at the time, thus giving the US a pretext for bombing the Bosnian Serbs.  In fact the UN knew all along that Moslems had fired “on their own people in order to create international sympathy and get the West to fight on their side against the Serbs”.

During this modern day crusade hundreds of Orthodox churches monasteries, and shrines, far more than in 500 years of Ottoman rule, have been destroyed.  Numerous pictures exist on the Internet, yet few reports have reached the west.

The UN administration of Kosovo was set up in autumn 1999.  Yet atrocities against the Serbian Orthodox church continued.  Kosovan reluctance to pursue the guilty is glaring.  The BBC reported in October 2000 that the Organisation for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) had found, “that the United Nations‑run judicial system displays clear evidence of bias against Kosovo Serbs”.  This became peculiarly public in 2001 when a coach from Nis carrying 250 Serbian Orthodox pilgrims was blown up by remote detonator.  Ten Serbs were killed, including a two‑year‑old boy, and 20 more injured, ‑ and that despite a Nato escort. The bus was taking Serbs who had already fled Albanian persecution in Kosovo in 1999 back to a memorial service for their dead and to visit family graves.

Murky world of ‘peace keeping’

Anthony Loyd later reported in The Times on the “murky world of UN and Nato peacekeeping in Kosovo” ‑ Enquiries had been “blocked at every turn” and “the four suspects are now free”.  The TMK (Kosovo Protection Corps) created in 1999 under the aegis of Nato and the UN after Serb withdrawal from Kosovo is just the KLA made respectable.  KFOR (The Nato‑led peacekeepers in Kosovo) and the UNMIK (the UN temporary administration were being blatantly obstructive.  One suspect linked to the scene by DNA evidence was an Albanian criminal.  He escaped from a US high detention facility – ‘using a pair of wire cutters hidden in a spinach pie’ ‑ with such ease that suspicions arose that he was an American spy.  The remaining suspects were high ranking TMK Albanians. They were freed for lack of evidence to receive local heroes’ welcomes, two being immediately reinstated as a Captain and Colonel.  It was alleged they had been paid throughout their detention, as if still in post, from UN funds.  Loyd concluded, “Any remaining trust held by Kosovo’s Serbs in UNMIK, KFOR or justice in the province disintegrated after the men were set free”.

Kristallnacht re‑enacted

In March 2004 a fresh wave of desecration occurred under the noses UN peacekeepers. Damjan de Krnjevic‑Miskovic reported, “A pogrom started in Europe this week, with one UN official being quoted as saying, ‘Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo’.  Serbs are being murdered and their 800‑year‑old churches are aflame.  Much of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever”.

He continued, “How did this week’s events begin?  Just as in the 1930s ... prearranged plans were put into action .. . Serbian children were accused of chasing four Albanian children into a river and causing the death of three of them.  Hours later, the UN Mission ‑ which is what passes for authority in Kosovo ‑ issued a statement that the accusation against the Serbs was false, adding that the surviving Albanian child had told the UN that no Serbs, had been involved in the drownings.  Nevertheless, anti‑Serb violence did not abate.  And today Kosovo burns still . . . The wave of violence has been too coordinated to be a spontaneous ... It is clear that some in the Kosovo Albanian leadership believe that by cleansing all remaining Serbs from the area ... and destroying Serbian cultural sites, they can present the international community with a fait accompli.”  Even an internet link to 11 pictures of the burning of St Sava Mitrovica on March 17th, showing UN armed soldiers standing by chatting to an Albanian mob as they assemble a pile of wood, break into the church and fire it, has disappeared when I came to compiling this article.  Little wonder the BBC’s Geraldine Coghlan, handling the Hague War Crimes Tribunal, reported in 2005 on its “bias against Serbs and for not bringing more ethnic Albanians to trial”.

Journalists not paid unless they lied

American journalist Stella Jatras has noted a further link in the chain of bias.  “The outrage is that we [journalists] have handed over Serbia’s Jerusalem, the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to a bunch of KLA narcoterrorists (40% of Europe’s heroin coming via Kosovo in 2001) who have been tuned into heroes”.

Jatras thinks that US press reliance on “stringers”, local roving reporters, is an endemic cause of bias.  These ‘stringers’ know that if they send in pro‑Serb material they are not likely to be paid or thick reports published.  They therefore embellish anti ‑ Serb stories.  Apparently one story of a mass grave containing 567 Moslem Albanians slaughtered by Serbs was found to be entirely fabricated.  “It doesn’t pay to be impartial in the Balkans”.

Serb clusters around Serbian Orthodox Churches in Kosovo still remain, hoping to survive by mutual support. Now, in 2006, reports are emerging of anti Serbian graffiti “Self‑determination” (Vetevendosje) appearing on Serb owned houses.  The implied threat ‘we know where you live’ ‑ is chilling.

The National Catholic Reporter voiced Serbian Orthodoxy’s dilemma: ‑ The modern Serbian Orthodox church was founded in the province of Kosovo and Metohija in the 11th century ... The big question is Patriarch Pavle.  He governs the Orthodox church as the first among equals .......Only Patriarch Pavle (the 44th successor to St Sava) now 91 and in failing health, can make the final decision [on Pope Benedict’s visit]”.  And what a decision!  Is Kosovo, known to the Serbian Orthodox as ‘heavenly Serbia’, to be engulfed by Rome or is it to become a European fundamentalist Islamic state?

So many in the West see St Savaism as the curse of the Balkans.  They feel the European powers have been overindulgent to a belligerent Serbia and its myths of former greatness with horrifying results.  They see “demonisation of the Croats” as a “demonisation of the Catholic Church” and they believe Rome to be an unjustly maligned institution which has really been proved to be wise beyond measure in being first to recognise Croatian independence in 1991, thus inaugurating a new era of Balkan peace and tolerance. At last the Vatican has the Serbian Orthodox Church manoeuvred into a corner.

Pictures of St Sava burning can be seen at: www.kosovo.net/news/archive/2004/ April _16/6.html

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