18 February 2008, 10:58
Kosovo independence to be "temporary situation" - Kosovan bishop
Belgrade, February 18, Interfax - The Orthodox bishop of Kosovo and Metohija has expressed confidence that the unilateral independence of Kosovo that its ethnic Albanian community is likely to declare this weekend will be "a temporary situation."
"I have been saying for a long time that, regardless of what the Albanians have done, we must remain here, next to our holy sites and our family graves, in our land, because this is our country," the website of the Kosovo diocese of Raska and Prizren quoted the head of the diocese, Bishop Artemije, as saying.
Artemije said Kosovan Serbs concurred and were not going to leave their homes.
The bishop compared Kosovo's expected independence to occupation.
"Their [the Albanians'] plans and decisions have nothing to do with us. We remain where we live now, with our people, in our country, with our Church, and will see what comes next," Artemije said.
"We cannot offer any other form of resistance other than strengthening our position and our will, refusing to accept this forced decision as a definitive one but seeing it as a temporary situation," he said.
The bishop said he expected the Kosovan Albanians to seek to completely oust the Serbs and other ethnic minorities from the province.
"We know them well and we expect that there will be attempts to complete the practice of violent ethnic cleansing and destruction of remaining monuments of our cultural legacy, a legacy that bears evidence to our having been in this land for many centuries," Artemije said.
The bishop called on Serbia to protect the Serbs and Serb monuments of Kosovo.