Monastery of Visoki Dečani in the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija
The newly elected First Hierarch of the Local Church of Serbia, Patriarch Irinej Gavrilović, described the situation of Kosovo Serbs “the greatest tragedy in the contemporary world”. In an interview with the Serbian website Vesti.Online, quoted by the Russian site Sedmitsa.ru, the patriarch said that the Serbian population of the province “are in a dire situation, one of the worst ever seen there. The tragedy is that the powers-that-be in the world are aware of this, but they pretend not to see it, or that they know anything about it. They stand on the side of those who have pushed us out of Kosovo-Metohija for over a century. Many people, being unable to resist, flee the area, and the Serb population of the area is becoming smaller. Furthermore, those who wish to return to their homes have not been able to do so. Today, those who have homes and smallholdings [in the province] are not confident that they would return alive if they left their property”.
Responding to questions, he also called the separation between Montenegro and Serbia a “crazy and unreasonable thing. We are one people; although we separated from time to time. At this difficult time for all our people, we should have been closer to one another; instead, we split apart, which cannot be justified. Will they (the Montenegrins: Interfax) understand it? I do not know. Perhaps, there are powerful elements behind these events, so, everything depends on them”.
With a special greeting, he turned to the Serbs living outside the former Yugoslavia, and urged them to preserve their native language and cultural and religious traditions. “I hope that our people who belong to our Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Savva will not forget their heritage, and show themselves worthy exemplars of their traditions to the peoples amongst whom they now live”, the patriarch said.
In a related story, Russia will donate 2 million dollars (60.791 million Roubles 1.441 million Euros 1.252 million UK Pounds) to aid four monasteries in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojša Bradić, the Serbian Minister of Culture, said on the Serbian TV and radio channel RTS. These funds will be used to update and ensure the protection of Visoki Dečani, Gračanica, the Mother of God at Ljeviška, and Peć Patriarchal monasteries. “It is planned that of the two million dollar Russian donation, 400,000 dollars (12.159 million Roubles 288,200 Euros 250,360 UK Pounds) will be allocated to the restoration of paintings at the monastery of the Mother of God at Ljeviška. In the other monasteries, the money will be directed not only to restoration of the paintings, but also for the refurbishment and protection of the monasteries”, Mr Bradić said.
29 January 2010