the imposition of tolerance


Life within the monastery flows smoothly. The same cannot be said for what happened “outside” the walls of Visoki. The point is that the area of Decani, stronghold of the ex-commander of the UCK (The Kosovan Liberation Army) Ramush Haradinaj, now under trial in Aja for war crimes, has been the stage for a certosina work of counter-ethnic cleansing, which forced the Serbs, ground down, threatened and downtrodden, to emigrate after the bloody two-year period of ’98-’99. Visoki is like a dot in the ocean, it is a small Serbian bastion sinking right in the middle of ethnically pure and monolithic territories. This entails particular attention on the part of the Italian military of the KFOR, the NATO contingent. Our soldiers, stationed in the “Italian Village”, at the gates of Pec, guard the entrance to the monastery, minute by minute.

Already on several occasions Albanian nationalists have thrown mortar fire on the surrounding wall of Visoki. Problems of ethnic intolerance, of contraband (the monastery “obstructs” the way to the mountain passes which lead into Montenegro and Albania) and of extra-territoriality. This last concept represents one of the cardinals of the relationship established a few months ago by Martii Ahtisaari, ex UN special envoy for Kosovo, in charge of negotiating the future socio-political organisation of the province, formally still Serbia, according to the meaning of resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council. Ahtisaari has provided extra-territorial status for Serbian churches and monasteries, similar to those given to embassies. An instrument capable of protecting the artistic and cultural patrimony of Kosovo from Albanian rage and of guaranteeing that Serb popes can continue to spread their word, even in a foreign land (the Ahtisaari plan supports the independence of Kosovo).

more from Reset’s Kosovo debate here.