Theme: The Battle for Kosovo
Serge Trifkovic: From Versailles to Kosovo
Of all Kosovo battles only one counts in the formation of the psyche of a Serb. It is the one that began in the early hours of Vidovdan (St. Vitus’ Day, June 15, 1389, June 28 by the New Calendar). The Turks had already been on the European continent for some time, seemingly unstoppable and intoxicated by easy victories over the rival and disunited infidels.
For the Serbs, Kosovo became a symbol of steadfast courage and sacrifice for honor, much as the Alamo for the Americans of yesteryear – only Kosovo was the Alamo writ large, where Serbs lost their whole nation. To them, too, in the words of Sam Houston, the site of their defeat was to be remembered – and avenged.
Serbs were defending themselves and Christian Europe from the Ottoman invasion, and at Kosovo they were defeated. Prince Lazar and the cream of the Serbian nobility died heroically. Over the centuries the sacrificial courage of Prince Lazar and his army on that day in 1389 has epitomized the dictum that it was better to die heroically than to live under the alien yoke. To the Serbs the lesson of that fateful St. Vitus Day is that eternal values must be placed before earthly ones, that spiritual force is superior to the force of arms, that by moral fortitude alone we can transcend our mortal frame and step from time into Eternity. The legacy of Vidovdan teaches them that the forces of darkness are defeated in the end and that those of light and virtue ultimately triumph – even when such victory may seem impossible – because there is God. Kosovo has redefined the Serbs as an eminently, quintessentially Christian nation.
The battle of Kosovo was one of the most decisive events in the whole history of South Eastern Europe. It meant not merely the fall of the medieval Serbian Empire and the conquest of the whole Balkan Peninsula by a barbarous Asiatic invader, but also an important stepping stone in the struggle of Islam against Christianity.
In our own times, Western anti-Orthodox bias, which James Jatras has dubbed Pravoslavophobia (in Chronicles, February 1997) rarely means antipathy for Orthodoxy as such. Most serious Protestants and Roman Catholic often have a fairly positive attitude toward Orthodox Christianity as a morally conservative and, especially, liturgically traditional bulwark within the spectrum of Christian opinion. Perhaps it has been so long since western Christians have had to physically defend themselves as Christians (as opposed to Americans, Englishmen, Germans, etc.) that they just don’t understand those for whom it is a current concern.
On the other hand there are Westerners for whom antipathy is based precisely on the traditional Orthodox character of the front-line states bordering on Islam. Indeed, from this viewpoint, the desire of these countries to not only avoid Islamization but Westernization as well is a major count against them. This frame of mind is strongly reminiscent of that of the West toward the East during the last great Islamic offensive in Europe, as the dying Byzantine, Bulgarian, and Serbian states faced Ottoman conquest in the 15th century. The West then was explicit: we will help you only if you renounce Orthodoxy in favor of Roman Catholicism. In today’s geopolitical context, when western churchmen join in calls for military action by western governments against Orthodox countries to help Muslims, Pope John Paul’s calls for ecumenical dialogue and eventual reunion – the topic of his encyclicals Ut Unam Sint and Slavorum Apostoli – look suspiciously familiar to eastern eyes. The Orthodox East is being told that unless they submit to the West’s tutelage in political, social, moral, and economic matters – the collective “religion” of the Enlightenment heritage – yet again they will be thrown to the wolves. In fact, the West will even hold them while the wolves to devour them.
The immorality, not to mention the stupidity, of this approach should be obvious. Maybe Christians will never come to agreement on doctrinal matters. But even if, broadly speaking, East and West are never able to share a common Eucharistic chalice, does that mean they must be enemies? I submit that the survival of Christian Orthodox civilization in the East should be hardly less important to the West than to the Orthodox themselves, and that over the not-so-long term the West’s own fate may depend on its survival. The fact that the West cannot recognize this reality is part of the same inability to recognize its own internal vulnerability, with the forest of minarets going up first in Western Europe, and now in North America.
Some Christians see the Muslim influx as an opportunity for evangelization. Indeed we should never neglect to share the Gospel – the only real liberation – with Muslims, who should not, as individuals, be held responsible for the violent system into which they were born, and of which they are also victims. At the same time, in light of the growing volume of Muslim immigration, western Christians will soon find out – sooner than they think, given western birthrates – that confronting the Islamic advance has become, as it has always been for eastern Christians, a simple matter of physical survival. By that time it may be too late for both….
Since the war ended with the defeat of the Serbs in 1999, more than one hundred Orthodox holy places have been assaulted and destroyed in Kosovo, many of them going back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Earlier, while the Serbian army of Slobodan Milosevic had control of the region, it is calculated that 212 of the 560 Muslim mosques in the area were damaged or razed.
In Kosovo today, the Orthodox Serbs are a besieged and endangered minority. Of the roughly 250,000 who fled following NATO´s military intervention, only a few thousand have returned. Together with the 130,000 who remained, they are herded in restricted zones and kept under constant threat.
Artemjie, the bishop of Raska and Prizren, the highest Orthodox authority in Kosovo, laments “the inexplicable silence of Christian and democratic Europe in the face of such grave crimes committed against a Christian and European people, which the Serbian people is.” And he accuses the Vatican of having been “amply implicated in the events” that produced the current situation.
Fr. Sava specifies that an authentic smear campaign has been unleashed against the Serbian Church: “The schools teach the theory that we did not build most of the Orthodox holy places in Kosovo, but that Roman Catholic Church did, and that they do not belong to us.”
There are approximately 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo. “We have excellent relations with the Muslims, and the government treats us well,” a spokesman for the apostolic administration of Prizen told the Norwegian news agency for religious liberty “Forum 18.”
But there is a more disquieting reality behind these words.
All throughout Kosovo, new mosques and Koranic schools financed by Saudi Arabia are springing up, and the influence of the Islamist currents is growing.
This is confirmed by the dangers incurred by Muslims who convert to Christianity.
These dangers were almost nonexistent in the past. Islam is generally weakly rooted in the Albanian population, and is accompanied by weak social controls.
But now extremist groups have appeared. And life has become difficult for those who convert. Last May 11, in Gnjilane, a convert was brutally beaten and threatened with death as a “traitor.”
The ones most targeted are the converts to the evangelical Churches, which are the most active in the missions. Many of the newly baptized are forced to keep their conversion hidden even from their loved ones.
The Catholic Church has chosen to keep a low profile and not to proselytize, and thus it feels Islamic pressure less. The moderate Muslim leader Ibrahim Rugova recently said that he has come to know the Catholic faith better and that he respects it a great deal.
Chris Kincaid: Christians Under Siege in Kosovo
Father Keith Roderick of Christian Solidarity International has testified that Albanian Muslims in Kosovo have been systematically destroying Christian churches and other sites in Kosovo and the Serbian Christian population in the province is being “squeezed down to oblivion.” The evidence is on display in a new DVD, “Days Made Of Fear,” directed, produced and distributed by Ninoslav Randjelovic.
At the same time, Father Roderick also says that hundreds of new Mosques have been built in Kosovo over the last several years, financed mostly by Gulf Arab money.
Why are the media ignoring what is happening in Kosovo?
One reason, as explained in the book, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting, is that the media reported the war wrong and now refuse to report who has really been victimized by it. Another factor is that the much-vilified neoconservatives got Kosovo wrong, too. As I noted in a Media Monitor, “In 1999 the neocons supported the NATO war on Yugoslavia launched by President Clinton. That benefited a Muslim terrorist group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), with links to Osama bin Laden.” The neocons thought they were supporting a tougher and a new NATO.
To compound this tragedy, the Bush Administration has continued the misguided Clinton policy on Kosovo.
Let’s remember that Clinton ordered U.S. military intervention in the Balkans against the Christian Serbs on the grounds that “ethnic cleansing” and even “genocide” were being waged against Serbia’s neighbors. Most of that was hokum. Serbia, a U.S. ally in World War II, was being ruled by the communist Slobodan Milosevic, who was desperate to hold on to power in the former Yugoslavia, which included Serbia. While Milosevic was a problem, the Clinton “solution” made the problem worse. Clinton gave the green light to military aggression against the Serbs and even ordered the CIA to provide support to the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was allied with Osama bin Laden and radical Islamists. The U.S. bombed Serbia and forced Milosevic, who was later turned over to a U.N. court, to capitulate. Milosevic recently died in a U.N. prison.
Kosovo, like the American southwest, has been deluged by outsiders, who now want political power. In Kosovo they are Albanian Muslims, many of them illegal aliens from neighboring Albania. They want, with U.S. and U.N. support, to turn Kosovo into an independent Muslim state….
John Couretas/Acton Institute: Who Will Protect Kosovo’s Christians?
Given the record of Christian persecution in Kosovo while under the supervision and protection of the UN, what could be expected from an independent province administered by Albanian Muslim politicians and security forces?
As Bishop Artemije told President Bush in his letter, the only decrease in violence against Serbian Christians has come about because there are fewer of them in the province, and fewer churches, monasteries and cemeteries now to be demolished. He pleaded with Bush to work toward a Kosovo solution that “provides for the human dignity and respect for all people, whether Albanian or Serb or Roma or Turk, whether Muslim or Christian.” An independent Kosovo, he added, “is neither inevitable nor desirable.”
Christians who are troubled by the persecution of their Church should pay heed to the bishop’s warning. Without adequate legal protection and security, the Christian minority and the centuries-old legacy of the faith in Kosovo may soon become a mere memory.
Kosovo Muslim Albanian extremists protest against an imminent U.N. proposal in the capital Pristina, January 22, 2007 by showing a Kosovo map and highlighting areas on it in red where Christians have not been expelled nor murdered yet. U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari is due to outline his proposal on the fate of Serbia’s U.N.-run province to the six major powers steering Balkan diplomacy on Friday on Vienna.
Kosovo: Land of the Living Past
Digg: Photo Essay: Organized destruction of Kosovo’s Christian heritage
His Grace Amfilohije, the Metropolitan of Montenegro: Shame and Blame in the Face of Christian Europe
G. Richard Jansen: Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo: An Abbreviated History
American Council for Kosovo: Defense of Kincaid’s article
Radio Netherlands: Kosovo: a heavy burden for the EU
Serge Trifkovic: Balkans/Kosovo
Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies: Site, Kosovo
The Guardian: U.N. Envoy Unveils Kosovo Proposal
James Bisset: Kosovo and the Westphalian Order
Srdja Trifkovic: Kosovo as a Symbol of Anti-Postmodernism
Julia Gorin: American Patriots Must Speak Up on Kosovo
Ruth King: Kosovo: A Cautionary Tale
Srdja Trifkovic: Kosovo: A New Day of Infamy for a New Century
Hugh Fitzgerald: Independent Kosovo
Reuters: Serbia tells Pope: Kosovo independence an injustice
CWNews: Pope urges Serbia toward reconciliation on Kosovo
Turning to relations with Islam– a crucial factor in the case of Kosovo, where the population is heavily Muslim– the Pope said that Serbia’s geographical placement on the boundary between the Christian and Islamic worlds “opens up rich possibilities for progress in inter-religious dialogue.”