Bp. Grigorije: Those who are ready for dialogue are the only people who can „defend“ Kosovo

„Today, territory is what divides Serbs and Albanians like many other peoples, the least. There is plenty of territory. There is enough space for everyone, for everyone to live happily and contently, and to be rich at the same time. People are first and foremost divided by ideology, and right behind ideology, which is most often a product of someone’s imagination, as its inseparable part, lies human stupidity, human limitations, over which a person wants to exclude another person from his life,“ Bishop Grigorije said.

Exactly two months after the Banjska events, together with his monastic brethren, the bishop of the Düsseldorf and All of Germany celebrated St.Patron’s Day of King Stefan Dečanski in Visoki Decani monastery.

Commenting on the violence in Banjska, the Bishop says it’s a bad dream. „The one who organized, instigated it, has no brains, no good intentions, and no idea about life, I’ll be brutally honest.“

He experienced as particularly devastating the fact that another monastery, “a glorious and unsullied monastery,” the endowment of St. King Milutin, was dragged into the violence.

The Bishop points out that the Diocese of Raska-Prizren reacted very well. „Which comforted me a bit,“ Bishop Grigorije said in an interview for KoSSev following his visit to Kosovo.

What do you notice when it comes to changes in Kosovo since your last visit?

I have to say that I did not notice any changes with the „naked eye“. Simply, the situation in Kosovo is the same, as seen from the outside, but from the inside one can feel some kind of terrible tension, especially among the Serbs. There is tension and a kind of downheartedness. I think people are kind of at a loss. On the other hand, the people I met in Decani are people who have decided to continue living in Kosovo at any cost, despite everything, therefore, these are determined people. By this, I also include monks who have a dose of joy, of course, they are in some sense also eschatological people, people of Heaven, but they certainly have a little better security compared to other Serbs in Kosovo, compared to the so-called ordinary people. I see concern among top church officials, but also a determination to carry on.

„All of this could be compared to blood work test that shows that the body is facing serious problems, but that life is still going on, that life is not being given up. However, the biggest problem, from the perspective of someone who visits Kosovo from time to time, is that no improvement has been seen for a long time.“

What kind of image from Kosovo do you get? How does information travel from Kosovo to Dusseldorf?

I think it’s an issue of how interested the people there are, who and what we have in Kosovo, how important we feel that area is, and how important we experience the whole Kosovo matter. There is a lot, a lot of information, and a lot of concern among our people who live in Dusseldorf, Berlin, Germany, Europe, America, and all over the world, and everyone has a feeling similar to the one I observed in Kosovo: a worry, pain, but also a dose of hope and faith that nothing can defeat, which is certainly a note-worthy phenomenon.

„What I can also say when it comes to both the people who live in Kosovo and everyone who is interested in that issue is that no one has any hope in state structures anymore. Somehow, one gets the impression that these people have given up on Kosovo.“

As we can see, the so-called International Community is occupied with other topics and other issues compared to which Kosovo is now a small and inferior problem. On the other hand, I am deeply convinced that there are people here, among Albanians and Serbs, among the Balkans, among Europeans, who would know how and be able to come to an agreement on this issue and find a solution. The people who are now in a position to look for a solution, obviously do not care about it, and I honestly wonder, even if they did care, are they even capable of such a thing? My impression is that they don’t care about the solution and that they are not capable of finding it, but I might be wrong.

Speaking of such an impression, how did you experience Banjska? What happened there, in your opinion?

I experienced that event, which I wish was a bad dream, like a game: when we were children, we played a stupid game, like a war game, called „Ta-Ta“. For me, Banjska resembled that game, but here it was much scarier because the game involved real human lives, and real weapons, not wooden children’s guns. It is especially devastating to me that such a glorious and unsullied monastery as Banjska was mixed up in the whole story. I think that the Diocese of Raska-Prizren reacted very well, which consoled me at least a little, but whoever organized it, whoever instigated it, he certainly has no brains, no good intentions, and no idea about life, I’ll be brutally honest.

What does Kosovo represent for Serbia today? What do Kosovo Serbs mean to Serbs today? What do to Albanians?

Today, for all those we mentioned, for those who should deal with the issues that burden the everyday life of Kosovo Serbs, it seems to me, that Kosovo Serbs are a kind of ballast, and there is no doubt that it is very sad and ugly. For those Serbs who have compassion for their brothers and sisters in Kosovo, they are real martyrs, heroes and so on.

„For me personally, they are definitely a pledge, they are a pledge for the future, they are seeds for survival. I don’t know if people reading this interview know what it means to preserve a seed for something. When seed is preserved, the best part of the wheat we have, or whatever else, is left as a seed, so that it can continue to be sown and produce new wheat. This is how I see the remaining Serbs in Kosovo and, of course, I do not separate them from the priests and monks in Kosovo, and that is the seed for the future which will be uncertain, but I believe there is hope as long as one candle burns in Kosovo.“

What causes more divide between Serbs and Albanians? Territory, a shared bitter history, or something else in the middle?

Today, territory is what divides Serbs and Albanians like many other peoples, the least. There is plenty of territory. There is enough space for everyone, for everyone to live happily and contentedly and to be rich at the same time. People are first and foremost divided by ideology, and right behind ideology, which is most often a product of someone’s imagination, as its inseparable part, lies human stupidity, and human limitations, over which a person wants to exclude another person from his life.

„Despite that, it seems to me that there are still many normal people today, people who want a peaceful life for their children, for their families, regardless of what their name may be, what their last name may be and how they show their belief in one and the same God. Ideologies have done an awful lot of harm to humanity. I believe that the land is fertile, extensive, there is room for everyone and it is a blessing to those who will build peace in Kosovo, who will build peace in Serbia, who will build peace in the Balkans and peace among people, and for all that, I keep repeating it even though I don’t have the impression that anyone is hearing me, good will is needed, as the Gospel tells us.“

Can Vučić and Kurti bring peace? Who can bring peace? How can the current situation be defused? How can reconciliation be reached?

I think that what we are discussing cannot and must not be the matter concerning only one or two people who hold the most responsible positions, although a lot depends on their initiative. My impression is that we should all together be one different society, one society in which it will never occur again that important issues, such as the one we are discussing, depend on two people, even if I were one of them. What if I were crazy or going crazy, what if I were drunk, what if I were drugged, what if I am ideologically infected to the point that I can’t see anything apart from my own ideology?!

„Therefore, as a society, we must change, we must cease being a society in which the fate of the entire nation depends on an individual. That is why I am happy that in Serbia, which until recently was ruled by the feeling that it was impossible to change the government, there are people like those who gathered around ProGlas. Let me say right away, that I didn’t sign it, but not because I don’t agree with it – on the contrary, I agree with every word, but because it was kind of inappropriate for me to sign it because I’m first and foremost a church official“.

„But if I were an ordinary citizen, of course I would sign it because, as I said, I agree with every word of it. I find the enthusiasm of the folks who launched ProGlas fascinating. These people spent their precious time, these are people who by all parameters can be said to be successful, accomplished, to have done something with their lives, but they are going around the towns and talking to people face to face, they don’t even use media or social networks. It is a phenomenon that I have longed for, and I think that no one will be able to resist it and that such a spirit will simply win in the end. People will start to talk face to face again, exposing all those lies that have accumulated so much that they look like some kind of mountain that cannot be crossed or bypassed. We simply need to take off our masks and look into each other’s eyes, and I think that ProGlas means exactly that.“

Why was Kosovo not included in ProGlas? You talked about us as a pledge for the future, a seed for survival? What should Kosovo Serbs expect, who are still citizens of the Republic of Serbia, and even citizens of Kosovo, if they do not hear a single word about themselves from those who pretend to be new forces? I know that there are people from Kosovo who signed ProGlas, and there are many more who are full of criticism of the current government. However, they are confused with this content, to put it mildly.

Yes, I am sorry that it is not part of it because I know that most of the signatories carry it in their hearts; many also in their actions. I am also sorry for our people in Kosovo. I know that ProGlas is supported by many people from there. That’s why I understand their confusion and sadness, especially now when they need encouragement to preserve Kosovo first of all as their home and as our common pledge, as I said a moment ago; that is, as a place where they will find a common language with their neighbors so that our children will never go to war again, but instead will respect each other as brothers and neighbors.

„There is no one among the noble, young, educated if you will – patriotic forces of Serbia, who, I believe, do not carry the suffering of our people and all other peoples in their hearts. More than once, apart from heroism, that is, willingness to defend one’s own, I have also spoken about courage, how much one loves one’s own when one also takes care of what belongs to other people.“

Kosovo can only be defended by those who are ready for dialogue

I supported ProGlas because it is not political and does not support any politician. It is paradoxical that people thought and believed that radicals, right-wingers, and in general – those seemingly uncompromising – would preserve or defend Kosovo and the people who are in the minority. However, I believe that only those who are ready for dialogue can do so. I hope that such people will appear, that is, they must appear – on all sides – as those who want to and know how to talk. In ProGlas, I see the human need for dialogue, and that is why, among other things, I support it. I also believe in our people who support ProGlas.

In addition to ProGlas, I must say that I am also pleased with the initiatives that our young man from Kosovo and Metohija, Savo Manojlović, has been starting for some time with his organization. He is already entering political maturity and maturing into a serious democratic politician. Those are the things that give me hope. I am simply convinced that everything else that rules our political scene today has been outgrown and literally wasted. That’s why a new initiative must be created in which citizens have the opportunity and power to react to any stupidity of the government, the mayor, the president, or the prime minister, and their reaction simply results in them being left without power.

„For example, I now live in this very rich and successful country in many respects, certainly not in everything, there are problems here as well. For example, a few years ago it turned out that one paragraph in the doctorate of a minister was not completely plagiarism-free and he had to resign following the public’s reaction. Even though he was the most promising politician in Germany. Therefore, society is needed, not only politicians are needed by society, but a society is needed that will correct politicians, and of course, what I have been constantly advocating from the beginning, a system is needed, i.e. institutions that protect all people, not just those who manage that system. I practically grew up in a monastery, I lived a monastic life, and I know that a monastery, like the Decani monastery, where there are people determined to devote themselves to God, cannot function without a system and without respect for that system. And if that applies to a monastery, where people live who think very similarly about life, what can we say about a human community the size of a country?“

Interview conducted by Tatjana Lazarević



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