On my way to Vespers last Saturday I found this guy. Luckily, I had my camera handy. Seeing as this is a small town, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me to find my picture on today’s front page.
GRACANICA, Serbia, July 17 — The following statement was issued today by His Grace ARTEMIJE, Bishop of Ras and Prizren, and pastor of Orthodox Christians in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija:
“On July 21, President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet with Hashim Thaci, styled by some ‘Prime Minister’ of the separatist Albanian Muslim administration in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija. As pastor of the Orthodox Christian people of Kosovo, I protest to the fullest possible degree the fact that President Bush would bring dishonor on his office and sully the good name of the American nation by receiving such an infamous terrorist, war criminal, and organized crime chieftain.
“Such a meeting is particularly disturbing in light of President Bush’s aspiration to leadership in the struggle of decent people everywhere against global jihad terrorism. In another context, he likened association with terrorists to seeking accord with the Nazis before World War II. Has he now changed his mind?
“Mr. Thaci’s criminal record is well-known. Under his alias ‘the Snake,’ Mr. Thaci is one of the three principal kingpins in the Albanian Mafia, which is based in Kosovo and operates drug, sexual slavery, and weapons rackets across Europe. According to the German intelligence service BND, he meets regularly in Pristina’s Grand Hotel with his chief accomplices, Ramush Haradinaj and Agim Ceku, to manage their joint criminal enterprises. To protect his criminal ‘turf,’ Mr. Thaci has not hesitated to eliminate rivals through physical means. As stated by one Albanian former leader in Kosovo, ‘Cadavers have never been an obstacle to Thaci’s career.’
“His record as a terrorist and war criminal is no less notorious. As a former commander of the so-called ‘Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA),’ Mr. Thaci bears primary responsibility for the terror campaign that has killed thousands of my flock and forced a quarter of a million to flee their homes in the province. Thousands of Serbian houses have been burned or forcibly taken over by Albanians, many of them illegal immigrants from Albania. Mr. Thaci’s henchmen have demolished or desecrated over 150 of the churches and monasteries in my diocese. Particularly targeted for destruction have been crosses and icons of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the saints, giving proof to the Islamic jihad ferocity that motivates these attacks.
“It is known that in 1995 Mr. Thaci, together with his crony Mr. Haradinaj, met in Tirana with Osama bin-Laden to plan the jihad against Serbs in Kosovo. Americans should keep in mind that the terrorist reach of the KLA is not confined to Serbia but already has reached American shores with the barely averted plot by jihad terrorists, four of whom are Albanian Muslims from the Kosovo region, to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey and kill American servicemen.
“Perhaps most appalling is Mr. Thaci’s role with respect to horrifying reports that organs destined for the illegal trade in organs for transplant were torn from live Serbian prisoners of the KLA. Some of the Serbian victims, after having one kidney cut out, were returned to confinement with fellow captives pending the lethal surgical removal of their other organs, waiting in knowing dread of the fate prepared for them! As documented by U.N. former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte — someone who hardly can be accused of having a pro-Serb bias — these reports are specific and credible and cry out for immediate investigation. The U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights Watch has written to Mr. Thaci with their concerns about this matter, which he has dismissed with cavalier indifference. This is hardly surprising, given that these atrocities were committed by his KLA minions, for whose actions he bears command responsibility. Indeed, in light of Mr. Thaci’s criminal proclivities, is it not more than likely he himself profited from this gruesome trade?
“This is the man with whom the leader of the world’s foremost democracy now intends to meet! In doing so, President Bush would be committing a grave transgression against morality and decency, as well as an offense against any standard of civilized behavior. I call on President Bush, as a professing Christian and as an international leader, to cancel this iniquitous meeting. I call on U.S. authorities to demand that those responsible for the harvesting of organs from live Serbian victims be made to face justice.”
Gracanica Monastery, Province of Kosovo and Metohija
Somehow I have a hard time believing this one. For that matter, I never understood Christian Rock. This Catholic monk says he was at a Metallica concert and felt the “energy” of the music. I don’t doubt that but I don’t see how someone like him, with his Christian background, could have interpreted, or mistaken it, as positive energy. Oh well, to each his own.
That was the slogan used when Kosovo declared independence and Serbia was not the only country protesting. “We’re Not Alone” we shouted. There were other countries on our side, most notably Russia and China. That’s why one wonders what’s going on when we read the following:
TADIC NO LONGER WANTS RUSSIAN HELP
Belgrade, 9 July (AKI) – Serbian president Boris Tadic has signalled a change in policy towards Kosovo, whose majority ethnic Albanians declared independence in February.
Tadic, who consolidated his power this week by forming a pro-European government, headed by his Democratic Party (DS), said the situation in Kosovo had changed since independence.
In an interview with Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti said Serbia would have „to find new answers in the new circumstances”.
Analysts said it was a decisive departure from the policy of Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica whom Tadic’s coalition ousted from power in the May election, after the two leaders split over Kosovo and European integration.
Koštunica insisted Serbia should shelve its plan to join the European Union after most EU countries recognised Kosovo and Brussels decided to send its mission (EULEX) to the province to implement the independence plan forged by United Nations negotiator Martti Ahtisaari.
Serbia’s ally Russia, which backed Belgrade by blocking Kosovo’s independence in the United Nations’ Security Council and opposed the deployment of EULEX.
But Tadic said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon now had „a clear majority on the reconfiguration of a civilian presence in the province and we must talk it out with the international community”.
Analyst Slavko Zivanov said it was a signal that Serbia no longer counted on a Russian veto and „an indirect message to Moscow to mind its business”.
Tadic reiterated his earlier position that joining the EU remained Serbia’s priority, regardless of developments in Kosovo.
„Tadic is actually looking for an exit strategy from the present situation, now that he has all reins of power in his hands,” Zivanov told Adnkronos International (AKI).
Zivanov pointed out that Kosovo’s independence and EULEX’s deployment always had majority support in the UN Security Council, and the only obstacle had been the Russian veto.
„Nothing has changed in the Security Council, but it seems that Tadic no longer wants Russian help,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kosovo Albanian language daily Zeri said on Wednesday that Tadic was aware that Kosovo’s independence was irreversible and would try to split the province.
But Kosovo officials and the international community adamantly oppose the partitioning of the province.