- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As someone who often denounced the repression of the late Slobodan Milosevic, I do not minimize his responsibility for the 1999 conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija. Nevertheless, William Walker’s heaping of every foul claim human malice can concoct on Serbs collectively, even more than on Milosevic himself, is another matter (“A separate take from Serbia,” Op-Ed, Feb. 24).

I live in Kosovo and know firsthand what actually happened - and did not happen - during the NATO war against my country. Mr. Walker describes the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as “a tiny band” fighting “systematic” crimes against ethnic Albanians. But there was no widespread violence until 1996, when the KLA attacked Serbian refugees and murdered - often in front of their families - Albanian postmen, forest workers and other “collaborators.”

Mr. Walker asserts that Albanians were “transported in cattle cars” into exile, but large numbers of Albanians - many of whom sheltered into the rest of Serbia or in Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries - fled only when the NATO attack was imminent. Not even NATO’s fevered propaganda claimed anything like “cattle cars,” which is Mr. Walker’s deliberate effort to pin a Nazi label on us Serbs.

As for Mr. Walker’s concern for Serbs in Kosovo - please spare us from such hypocrisy! The outrages for which Mr. Walker blames Serbs exactly describe what the KLA didto Serbs after the war. Two-thirds of my flock was ethnically cleansed - a larger proportion than that of Albanians fleeing the fighting. Ten years later, these refugees cannot return home safely, nor can Serbs who remain in the province leave their enclaves without fear of attack. So much for Mr. Walker’s concern for our rights.

Finally, Serbian President Boris Tadic and I may sometimes disagree about how best to defend Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but we agree that Kosovo is, and always will be, an integral and inseparable part of our country. Mr. Walker’s attacks on someone who never in any way supported Milosevic can only be seen as further collective demonization of all Serbs.

VLADIKA ARTEMIJE

Bishop of Ras and Prizren

Gracanica, Kosovo and Metohija

Republic of Serbia


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