world council of churches

Conference of European Churches (CEC)
World Council of Churches (WCC)
Report of the WCC/CEC Ecumenical Delegation to Kosovo
29 June to 02 July 1999

Following the visits of delegations from organisations based at the ecumenical centre in Geneva to Novi Sad and Belgrade -16-18 April, and Macedonia and Albania -18-25 May, during the time of the NATO bombing, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) decided to send a delegation to Kosovo as soon as possible after the war. This visit took place 29 June to 2 July 1999.

Aims of the visit

The aims and objectives of the visit were:

Meeting and Visits in Kosovo

Visit to Refugee Camps in Macedonia: Linda J. Hartke and Klaus Wilkens arriving early in Skopje visited two refugee camps. At Stankovec I they were informed that the population of the camp had shrunk from 25'000 to 2'854 people, i.e. more than 22'000 people have made a "spontaneous return" to Kosovo. The day before, the UNHCR began officially assisting people to return by bus. The organised return by UNHCR continued to be controversial - to most it seemed to little too late. At the same time, the conditions for a safe return are not yet met. At the Redusha camp only 326 refugees were left and it was envisaged that the camp would close the next day. MCIC had played a leading role in establishing and servicing this camp.

Short discussions with some of the refugees revealed the atrocities and the hardship of many of the refugees which made them flee from Kosovo. It also became obvious that many are looking forward to a future of insecurity. The visit was filled with many impressions. On the positive side, most refugees retain control over their own lives and are exercising it as if they made their own choices about return. It is also a remarkable refugee crisis in which people use cellular and satellite phones to call relatives around the world in order to get information from inside Kosovo. Of deep concern are questions about what people are returning to and whether or not the have full information about the situation.

At an UNHCR meeting later on, the following figures were given: it is estimated that 34'557 refugees remain with host families in Macedonia and 24'275 are in camps. During the period of 15-28 June, 163'300 refugees have returned to Kosovo from Macedonia.

Meeting with Paul Miller, Amnesty International: Paul Miller stated that the general lawlessness in Kosovo and the failure of the UN to put in place a civil administration rapidly is significant problem. This vacuum has left space for the UCK to act as the law unto itself. Within each geographic region, the KFOR is applying the law of their own country, which means there is no consistency. Mr Miller also expressed deep concern for the threat to Serbs in Kosovo. In PriStina, returning ethnic Albanians are driving Serbs out of their apartments and taking them over. According to him, it is a real possibility that all of the Serbs will be driven out. It is hard to know what can be done to make them stay. Once the Serbs are gone, the UCK might continue its threats and expulsion of Roman-Catholics (not seen as loyal to he UCK; no Roman-Catholics in UCK leadership), Muslim slavs (Bosniacs in Pec), Gorani (slav speakers who converted to Islam in the 19th century; in the Southwest of Kosovo) and the Roma population (viewed as Serb collaborators)

Meeting at the Muslim Academy in Pristina: At the Muslim Academy we were received by the President of the Academy, Mr Naim Ternava, who is at the same time a board member ("Chairmanship") of the Islamic community in Kosovo and Chairman of Berasheti, the Muslim relief organisation. Mr Ternava spoke in Albanian. The Academy provided an interpreter into English. From the beginning, Mr Tervana expressed his openness towards inter-faith cooperation in saying: "We all believe in one God. It is our faith in God that links us together."

We were told that the Islamic chairmanship is an independent body, founded after World War II. At present, the Islamic Chairmanship relates to 450 mosques (of which 200 were destroyed/burnt down during the war), one Secondary School and one Islamic Religious Faculty (both in Pristina). It publishes a monthly newspaper. The chairmanship enjoys a permanent relationship with the Roman Catholic Church in Kosovo though not with the Serbian Orthodox Church. (Father Sava and Bishop Artemije had expressed themselves against the oppression of Kosovo Albanians and supported them. But they are the only ones in their church. The majority in the Serbian Orthodox Church is identified with the Serbian military action in Kosovo.) It has no permanent contacts to the religious communities in Albania. All Islamic bodies in Kosovo are established by people from Kosovo without any influence from the outside Islamic world.

Mr Ternava described the recent war between the ethnic Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo as the climax of a long history of hatred between them. "The international world has been silent until this hatred really came to the surface". He described the war as a dirty war of the Serbian military and Serbian para-military forces and mentioned the destruction of mosques, the killing of children, the killing of 20 Immans. "We think all this military and para-military action was done with the clear knowledge of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbs have a high religious hatred against us." According to his understanding, the responsibility for most of the crimes committed in Kosovo does not lie with the "regime" in Belgrade, but with a huge part of the Serbian population in Kosovo.

Asked about his vision for the future, Mr Ternava expressed himself for an independent Kosovo as a bridge between the nations, in which all ethnic groups can live together and in which human rights and religious freedom are implemented ("A little bit like in America".) "All people, who were not involved in crimes, can stay in Kosovo. But we do not want to have criminals here." Asked about concrete measures for reconciliation and mediation in Kosovo he answered: "We need some days of rest first. The memory is still too fresh. Yesterday I have visited a family, in which 10 out of 13 family members were killed. But our hand is stretched out to anyone who wants to help this population." Finally, he said that humanitarian aid is very much needed. He welcomed the ACT approach, not to distribute humanitarian aid according to religious affiliation, but to all people in need.

Travel by road to Prizren: We travelled by road from Gracanica to Prizren, leaving the monastary after 5p.m. for the two hour trip. While still in the British sector of KFOR troops, we went through villages (e.g. Stimilje) that were quite tense, with teams of soldiers in full battle dress patrolling the streets and checking each doorway and alley. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers of KFOR were everywhere. And kilometre after kilometre we saw the shells of houses destroyed by fire or explosive device. It is easy to believe the estimates that 40-50% of the houses have been destroyed. We slowed as we went through Suva Reka, one of the communities hardest hit. Easily 70-80% of the houses were uninhabitable. During a brief stop along the road we saw a well with red warning tape wrapped around it; a caution that the well was either booby-trapped or poisoned. By the time we reached Prizren, we had crossed into the sector where German KFOR troops provided security and were caught in a traffic jam behind heavy armoured vehicles. Prizren itself was a surprise -the cafes and shops were lively and well stocked. There was little physical damage to the town from which we learnt later, all Serb inhabitants had left.

Meeting with the Roman-Catholic Bishop Marko Sopi in Prizren: Bishop Sopi welcomed us warmly to his residence, though we arrived rather late (9:00 pm). In these premises are the headquarters of the Catholic Relief Services in Kosovo, an American agency. He summarizes the relations between his church and the Serbian Orthodox Church in one sentence: "There are no problems, but there are no (real) relations." His personal relationships were much better, when Patriarch Pavle was still Bishop of Kosovo. Meetings with Bishop Artemije are limited to rather formal occasions on feast days. At the meeting in Vienna (organised by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, March 1999), for the first time he spoke to Bishop Artemije somewhat extensively.

With regard to future developments in Kosovo, he underlined that peaceful co-existence of all peoples must remain the final goal. "This is a realistic vision, because as Christians we are optimists and we believe in God's unprecedented action. But for the time being, the memory of the most recent crimes and massacres is still very fresh. But measurements towards a positive future have been taken." Bishop Sopi puts his hopes on Rugova and his party, whose politics he always regarded as most helpful. The fact that Secretary of State Albright did not support him in the meeting with the UCK seemed to be rather logical and helpful, according to the Bishop's understanding. Open US support would have discredited Rugova. Most important would be to re-establish an effective civil administration in Kosovo. Bishop Sopi hoped, that once the situation would be more stabilized, the Serbian population of Prizren, that did not commit crimes, would return. The churches would have an important task in the area of education.

He did not see any problem in the relationship between the Roman-Catholic Church and the UCK. Though most of his church members associated themselves with the Democratic League of Kosovo (Rugova's Party) and rather few became members of the UCK, there were very few attacks by the UCK against Roman-Catholics. Muslims, however, were attacked by the UCK, if they were seen as collaborators of the Serbs.

Visit to the headquarters of the German KFOR troops: During a brief visit to the headquarters of the German KFOR troops in the morning, we witnessed the arrival of Russian troops and tanks that would be working alongside the German forces. That same morning, KFOR commanders returned from an early morning visit to two newly discovered mass graves in the sector.

Travel by road to Pec: As we travelled to Pec, the seat of the Patriarchate of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we stopped in Dakovica, another badly damaged town. Here the markets and shops were empty shells and there appeared to be no consumer goods on sale. We also stopped in Decani, where the situation is still very tense, and with little KFOR presence. We saw UCK solders walking the streets proudly in uniforms that are now banned. We also spoke briefly with members of the ACT assessment team which had meetings in the town that day.

Meeting with H. H. Patriarch Pavle in Pec: The seat of the Patriarch in Pec is well protected by Italian KFOR troops and tanks. The day we arrived there were about 25 refugees left from about 1500 who had earlier sought refuge in the monastery. Just after our visit the monastery opened its gates again for a large number of refugees. It was emphasised that in the monasteries of Pec and Decani, Serbian as well as Albanian refugees were well received and hosted.

The Patriarch was aware that an ecumenical delegation was to visit and received us warmly. In his introduction he stated that any war is evil but especially civil wars because they lead neighbours and brothers to fight against each other. The war between Serbs and Albanians is not a religious war, though it has a religious component, because Serbs are identified as Orthodox Christians, while Albanians are identified either as Muslims or Roman-Catholics. The Patriarch referred to the time when he was still Bishop in Kosovo. Then he had many contacts with the Muslim and Roman-Catholic leadership. They tried to place emphasis on the common elements of their faith. "How can we expect non-believers to behave well when we as believers do not behave according to God's will?"

Speaking of present priorities, the Patriarch expressed his hope that the KFOR troops might assist in securing peace for all, though only 20,000 of the expected 50,000 soldiers have arrived. Many Albanian refugees had returned while many Serbs were forced to leave. Individuals take justice into their own hands. Therefore the Patriarch hoped for the immediate establishment of an international police and a court system. Otherwise it would be difficult to guarantee justice. It is difficult to work towards reconciliation, because the wounds are still too fresh. What is needed is a process of public repentance and forgiveness. He called for peace and justice in Kosovo: "We expect that the guilty have to be punished."

As a second priority the Patriarch mentioned humanitarian assistance. Many houses are burnt and many families lack the minimum support. All people of Kosovo are in need. Therefore humanitarian aid should be distributed equally to all people despite their religion or ethnicity. The Serbian Orthodox Church is part of a humanitarian organisation in Belgrade, which, the Patriarch said, is prevented from operating in Kosovo.

In addition, the Patriarch referred to the need to establish a civil administration in Kosovo as soon as possible. Right now there is a military administration or the administration is taken over by UCK.

Asked about the international debate on the reconstruction of Yugoslavia under Milosevic or only after Milosevic, the Patriarch emphasised that Kosovo was the priority for reconstruction. ALet's create the conditions so that all people can return to Kosovo, then we can talk about Milosevic.@ The Holy Synod had asked for a government of national salvation. Milosevic should resign peacefully, otherwise a revolution is possible.

Reacting to a proposal of the WCC General Secretary, Rev Dr Konrad Raiser, for a pastoral meeting with the Serbian Orthodox Church, which would not have to take decisions or to adopt resolutions, the Patriarch reacted positively. He will await concrete proposals from Geneva.

At the monastery, a group of five women and two men gathered around a table for coffee and hushed conversation was interspersed with long stretches of silence. These people were ethnic Serbs from neighbouring villages who have sought safety in the monastery in recent days. One woman recounted: "Four days ago the UCK soldiers came to my apartment and kicked in the front door with their boots. They took one of my relatives, a young man. Then they put pistol to my head and to the head of my grandmother. They told us to leave and threatened to return in an hour to make sure we were gone". Now these people wait, behind high stone walls and a row of KFOR tanks. They do not ask for anything. They wait only for news of their husbands, sons and brothers who have been kidnapped. They wait for their release or for the chance to bury them. Until then, they say, they will not leave Kosovo.

Travel by road to Gracanica: As the delegation left Pec to return to Gracanica (with a short stop over at the Decani Monastery), we saw an Orthodox church building at Drenovac that had been blown up two days earlier, an ominous sign for people of faith and ethnic Serbs. Travelling back, we saw road signs in three languages -in the past, a sign of Kosovo's multi-ethnic nature. But now, on most signs, the name of places written in Serbo-Croat have been painted over and are illegible. The erasure of the Serb population is reflected even on the street signs. We had to pass several road blocks and moreover a bridge with a huge hole in the middle.

Meetings in the Gracanica Monastery: When we arrived, we were informed that Bishop Artemije, Bishop Atanasje (Metr. of Mostar and Herzegovina) as well as Father Sava (Decani Monastery) are now living in the Gracanica Monastery. They had left for a meeting with the UN General Secretary's acting Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Waiting for their return, we were hosted by Monk Dean, who reported that there were hardly any Serbs left in Prizren. Bishop Artemije had left Prizren, because of that and because there was no infra-structure for him to work from there. When the German troops arrived in Prizren there was chaos and they could not guarantee the safety of the Serbs. They felt able to protect the Bishop and the Cathedral, but they did not feel able to protect every Serbian house. The UCK promised protection, but were also unable to protect them against gangs.

We made an appointment to meet with Bishop Artemije the next day. Guiding us out, Father Sava told us that from the helicopter, which brought them to the meeting with Vieiro de Mello, they could see for the first time the full extent of the devastation caused by Serbian military and para-military action during the war.

Arriving the next day, the ecumenical delegation first witnessed negotiations between Bishop Artemije and a delegation of the British KFOR troops about fuel supply and additional protection during the harvest. The British delegation, which included both Roman-Catholic and Anglican Military Chaplains, proved very understanding and promised to do their utmost.

Receiving the ecumenical delegation, Bishop Artemije welcomed the delegation and mentioned that this was the first visit of an ecumenical delegation from Geneva since he became bishop eight years ago. In his introductory remarks he referred to the many Serbs, who had to leave Kosovo; 80,000 since the beginning of the most recent war, 500,000 since World War II. "This is a decisive time, whether Serbs will survive in Kosovo", he said. Almost all Serbs had gone from the South-eastern part of Kosovo. Many churches were destroyed or burnt, the last one just before our visit. One Priest (Fr. Radoslav (Hariton) Lucic appears to have been kidnapped, others had been forced to leave with threats like: "This is greater Albania!" Bishop Artemije responded to this development, saying that Albanians feel the Ottoman Empire is back: "For them any Serb is guilty! It is the responsibility of the international community to identify criminals on all sides and to establish security." According to his view of the situation, neither the Serbian Orthodox Church, nor its priests, monks and believers are responsible for the atrocities of the past. But now all Serbians are the new target group and there were many crimes committed by returning Albanian refugees. We are witnesses of a policy of ethnic cleansing under the eyes of KFOR. If KFOR is not able to prevent crimes, that would be the greatest defeat for the UN and would lead to all ethnic Serbs leaving the region. Kosovo should remain multi-cultural and multi-ethnic.

Asked about possibilities to mediate between the different ethnic communities and to invite members of the Serbian Orthodox Church for training in mediation, Bishop Artemije responded, that this would be too early. The priority now must be to establish security and the rule of law. That would allow the Serbs to come back. Then we can see how we will live together.

With regard to humanitarian aid, Bishop Artemije referred to the fact that Serbs cannot move freely any more in Kosovo. Therefore they are in need of food, medicine and sanitary articles.

After the meeting with Bishop Artemije (Father Sava served as interpreter for most of the time), there was a short talk with the Anglican Military Chaplain, Revd Kingsley Joyce, who works directly under General Jackson. He confirmed the difficult situation of the Serbian population right now. The KFOR troops were doing their utmost to protect them, though that is not possible in each single case. Since they were present, a few Serbs have returned already. Asked about his contacts with military chaplains of other KFOR units, he said that they are in close touch. They would need to get in touch, however, with the Russian troops, which had only just arrived.

Visit to Mitrovica: Travelling north by road, we crossed into the KFOR sector of French troops. Here, villages were more sparsely populated and spread out. One could tell as you passed if it was a Serb or an Albanian village by the quantity and style of housing, by the type of damage, and by the markings left on the houses by those who had destroyed it. We passed one Serb house still burning and there were no people to be seen in the village. Driving into the city of Mitrovica, the damage was overwhelming. Almost no house was untouched. Factories and other buildings (some used as Serb barracks) had been demolished by bombs. Row after row of little shops on the main street were just piles of rubble, some of which had been bulldozed by Serb soldiers. The main outdoor market had reopened and had a limited selection of fruit, vegetables and other staples. This is one of the more tense communities left in Kosovo, where both Serbs and Albanians still live. There is a running dispute over a bridge that divides the ethnic neighbourhoods, and some try to enforce the boundary as if it were an international border rather than a bridge where just a few years ago neighbours of different ethnic backgrounds would meet. The deep ethnic divide has also split the hospital into two separate wards. The day we travelled to Mitrovica, KFOR troops had to insert themselves into a growing conflict between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians to keep the peace.

UN/Humanitarian Organisations Briefing, 1 July (Priztina): Delegation members joined a crowd of more than a hundred people at the daily briefing. It was reported that plans for the civil administration were moving ahead rapidly with the deployment of staff. Nine judges have been appointed -six ethnic Albanians, three ethnic Serbs. For the time being the Serbs have agreed to stay, but it remained unclear for how long. The division of labour among various bodies was also reviewed (cf. Security Council resolution of 12 June): humanitarian affairs -UNHCR, civil administration -UN, institution building -Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), reconstruction -EU.

The briefing continued with a strong reminder to use only paved roads due to the possible presence of land mines. Caution was also expressed in handling odd or unidentified items discovered as people move into offices, flats and houses. Updated mine maps are available in the SIMIC office.

Concern was expressed over the continued departure of Serbs. On 1 July the Interim Sub-Government in Pristina and the centre for Peace and Tolerance have left. This may trigger more departures. A convoy of 60 vehicles carrying Serbs, mainly intellectuals, left Kosovo.

In Priztina a block of flats housing Gypsies was burnt. There is also an increasing conflict between Kosovar Albanians and Albanians over property.

The number of returned refugees numbers 500,600. UNHCR offered the caution that the returns so far have been of persons who have resources, are healthy, and whose homes may not be so severely damaged. The later returns will be more difficult cases and the agencies need to be prepared to assist them. A survey in Macedonian camps indicated that 30% of the refugees do not intend to go back, because they have no home to return to.

A KFOR Sergeant spoke about his attempts to get a coal factory, the electric facilities and a brick factory functioning. His 2,000 employees are working without salary. But because they work, they are unable to line up for food rations. KFOR is afraid that they will stop working soon.

The briefing session also served as a coordination meeting among the different agencies and NGOs.

Meeting at the Headquarters of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (Priztina): At the OSCE Headquarters we were received by Mr Kaare Eltervaag (Norwegian), formerly head of the OSCE Assessment Mission to Kosovo, now on the staff of the newly established OSCE Mission in Kosovo. The Mission was formerly established on 1 July and will take a lead role in matters relating to institution-and democracy-building and human rights. The Mission is expected to number up to 700 international personnel.

Part of the mandate will be to offer human rights education as an integrated part of the education for teachers, police, doctors etc. That does not seem to be sufficient, however. Therefore the OSCE is considering also a monitoring and advisory role in this field and wants to establish an Ombudsman-System, where everyone can file complaints even against KFOR and the international organisations.

One major problem according to Kaare Eltervag, is that the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is delayed in establishing a civil administration and a civil society. The consequence is that the UCK is filling the vacuum in many places. Their representatives try to get hold of registers and go from door to door in order to confiscate living space. In Pec the UCK has called people out for a clean-up day and many people followed. In some places, Serbs are living in a kind of fortress, which they cannot leave without risking their lives. It might well be that they have to be escorted out of Kosovo.

Mr Eltervag was well aware of the situation of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the religious communities in Kosovo. He emphasised that they could play an important role in re-establishing a civil society and in working towards reconciliation, because religion was not the dominant factor. Hatred emerged rather along ethnic lines. He himself is in touch with Father Sava. The Chairman in office of the OSCE, Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek will visit Kosovo from 8 to 9 July. He will spend one night in the De ani Monastery and will join the liturgy there.

Findings and Conclusions

Humanitarian Aid
Wherever the ecumenical delegation went, the signs of war were highly visible. We met convoys of Albanian refugees returning home. According to UNHCR officials, 500,600 had returned so far and these were the ones who had some resources and a home to return to. In fear of revenge, Serbs are forced to leave the country, to live in ghettos or to seek refuge in monasteries under the protection of KFOR troops. It is feared that large parts of the Kosovo are covered with land mines and unexploded devices that may take years or even decades to trace and remove. Accidents and new victims are reported daily, but the full scale of the problem is not yet clear. In all parts of the region we saw destroyed and burnt houses, including churches and mosques; the further north the higher the degree of devastation. People of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds are suffering and lack food and medical supplies. According to the Muslim leader, Mr Naim Ternava, humanitarian aid for the region around Drenica is high priority. Bishop Artemije referred to those Serbs that live in fortresses and are unable to move freely.

Humanitarian aid needs to continue and even be increased, especially in the light of the forthcoming winter, which starts in some parts of Kosovo as early as October. A sustained commitment to Kosovo by all aid organisations should be encouraged. ACT should continue to follow its principle of helping all those in need beyond religious or ethnic border lines. Coordination among the many relief organisations present in Kosovo, should be strengthened.

The ecumenical organisations should support the establishment of a UN Kosovo Mine Action Centre as well as the NGO mine clearance efforts

Towards a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Kosovo
All of our contacts expressed their vision for a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Kosovo. The present situation, however, forces the ethnic Serbian population as well as the Gypsies/Roma to leave Kosovo. Though the KFOR troops do their utmost to bring about stability and security, they are unable to protect every civilian of the minority population. Serbs have either left (Prizren), live in fortresses, seek refuge in monasteries or are separated from the ethnic Albanian majority by the KFOR troops (Mitrovica). We have seen little evidence that Kosovo can remain multi-ethnic under the present circumstances.

We recommend that the KFOR and UN civil administration mandates which guarantee the security of ethnic minorities and all citizens be made explicit and that personnel and resources be provided to complete the task. Advocacy for the rights of Serbs and other ethnic minorities as well as maintaining a multi-ethnic and diverse Kosovo is critical. The number of KFOR troops originally planned (50,000) should be fully deployed in Kosovo and the civilian police force must immediately be oriented, trained and put to work in communities across Kosovo. We urge the demobilisation of small arms.p> All of our contacts based their hopes on a strong KFOR presence. The presence of international protection forces, however, cannot guarantee the peaceful coexistence of the different parts of the population.

Therefore we strongly recommend the establishment of a civil administration and the re-building of a civil society as soon as possible. The fact that the KFOR troops and the UN moved in too slowly allowed the UCK to take over the civil administration in many parts of Kosovo. We regard it as indispensable that the religious communities will be invited and heard at the EU meeting on reconstruction scheduled for 31 July.

Even these efforts will not prove to be sufficient in the long-run to guarantee the peaceful co-existence of ethnic Albanians, Serbs and Gypsies in Kosovo. Therefore the ecumenical delegation tested with all contacts the possibilities for mediation and civil conflict transformation. The response was, however, that it would be much to early to think about initiatives to this effect. Nevertheless we want to encourage those organisations which have experience in this field to jointly explore possibilities in the mid-term future. It may be that some local communities can be identified, which are already working towards reconciliation, or that representatives from different communities can be invited for training courses in civil conflict management in the near future. It would be advisable for mediation efforts to link with intergovernmental bodies, such as the OSCE or SIMIC. In addition, we recommend, that a collection of resource materials on peace, tolerance and reconcilation etc. should be collected in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian in order to duplicate and spread it in Kosovo as widely as possible. The Patriarch himself spoke about the need for public repentance and forgiveness. The Patriarch also reacted positively towards the idea of a pastoral meeting of the ecumenical community and the Serbian Orthodox Church. We therefore recommend that plans for a pastoral meeting be developed and an invitation be issued.

We heard from all religious communities about their commitment to a multi-ethnic Kosovo which respects human rights, justice and the rule of law. We therefore call on all nations to share intelligence data gathered during the conflict that might lead to indictments by the ICTY. We urge nations to provide additional professional staff (e.g. forensicists, criminal investigators) to support the efforts of the ICTY.

Reacting to a quickly changing reality
The visit of this delegation was too short to prepare a full assessment of the situation in Kosovo. Moreover, the situation is changing by the day, if not by the hour. At the same time the media seem to be losing interest. We saw several media representatives leaving Kosovo. We recommend that the ecumenical organisations strengthen their efforts to keep in close contact with the Serbian Orthodox Church and all visited contact persons. Additional contacts within the religious communities as well with other NGOs and the intergovernmental organisations will have to be made. The director of the Muslim Academy explicitly invited us to continue the dialogue and to also met with all leaders of the Muslim community. We also suggest that another small delegation be sent to the region in August in order to re-assess the situation, to express solidarity with the peoples in Kosovo and to recommend appropriate actions to be initiated by the meetings of the Central Committees of WCC and CEC in September.

Members of the delegation

  • Ms Penny Panayiota Deligiannis (Diaconia Agapes, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania)
  • Ms Linda J Hartke (Church World Service and Witness, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA)
  • Mr Saso Klekovski (Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation)
  • Mr Artan Kosti (Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania)
  • Ms Miriam Lutz, Action by Churches Together
  • Rev Rdiger Noll (Conference of European Churches
  • Mr Huibert van Beek, World Council of Churches
  • OKR Klaus Wilkens, Evangelical Church in Germany.

Due to technical problems Ms Vladimir Shmaly from the Russian Orthodox Church could not join the team.


The delegation wishes to express its sincere thanks to the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation, which organised the practicalities of the visit. Special thanks are expressed to the Director, Mr Saso Klekovski, and Mr Albert Hani (Project Officer), who accompanied the team and served as facilitators and interpreters, not only in the technical sense of the word.


29 June

  • Arrival in Skopje (FYROM), team building, detailed planning of the visit (Linda J. Hartke and Klaus Wilkens arrived earlier and used this opportunity to visit two refugee camps (Stenkovec I and Radusha) and to attend a UNHCR briefing in Skopje).

30 June
  • Introduction of and by MCIC
  • Travel to Pristina
  • Meeting with the Director of the Muslim Academy in Priztina, Mr Naim Ternava
  • First visit to the Gracanica Monastery, short meetings with Monk Dean and Father Sava (Decani-Monastry)
  • Travel to Prizren
  • Meeting with the Roman-Catholic Bishop Sopi of Kosovo

1 July
  • Visit the headquarters of the German KFOR troops
  • Travel to Pec via Decani
  • Meeting with H.H. Patriarch Pavle
  • Visit to the Decani Monastery/Visit to Mitrovica
  • Meeting with H.E. Bishop Artemije of Raska-Prizren at the Gracanica Monastery/Attending the UN briefing session in Pristina

2 July
  • Meeting with Kaare Eltervaag, former head of the OSCE assessment mission, now member of the newly established OSCE Mission to Kosovo
  • return to Skopje

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