Sava Janjic: To be silent when someone could force our people to leave KiM forever is, from a spiritual perspective, totally unforgivable

Sava Janjić

We didn’t have an in-person conversation, instead we e-mailed each other. And yet, I think that my conversation with Sava Janjić, abbot of Visoki Dečani Monastery, as I’m conveying it to you, turned out just as it would had we sat across from each other. I wouldn’t have interrupted him, I wouldn’t have poked and prodded at him. Everything would have been the same, except for the first question: “Since, unfortunately, we’re not sitting face to face, could you please describe for our readers what your surroundings are like, what you’re looking at through the window, so we can better imagine where you are writing to us from?”

“I’m in the room with the best view, as far as I’m concerned. A church that was built more than 700 years ago by Stefan of Dečani is right in front of me. This church is both a constant reminder and a constant source of inspiration for those of us who live here and for everyone who visits. It speaks to us with each one of its stones, every relief, every fresco, and with this marvelous beauty it joins together Western Romanesque and Gothic architecture with Serbian Byzantine artistry, and reminds us of what we were, what we are, and what we need to be,” explains Sava Janjić.

To be silent when faced with a situation where someone could force our people to leave Kosovo and Metohija forever, to not react to the troubles that they are faced with, would be both simply inhuman, and from a spiritual perspective, totally unforgivable

The accusation is often repeated that by getting involved in politics, you’re “overstepping your bounds as a monk.” In that context, how much is the question of Kosovo and Metohija a political one? What is your own internal sense about it?

These kinds of accusations come from the same kinds of people with the same aggressive atheist mentality who tried, especially among the Serbian people, to erase the awareness of the crucial role that the Church, and especially monastics, played in forming both the medieval Serbian state and the very identity of the Serbian people itself. Weren’t there bishops, monks, and priests who were key players in literally all of the important historical events in the Serbian nation from the Middle Ages up until now? The vision of Saint Sava, who succeeded in obtaining autocephaly for the Serbian Orthodox Church, was so crucial to all this that without it, it would have been very difficult for the medieval states and identities that went along with them to have formed at all, let alone to have survived up to the present. However, even if we have the right and the responsibility to speak out in crucial moments, our motivation most certainly is not and absolutely cannot be a solely political one. Orthodoxy does not have a place for clericalism. The Church has no secular pretensions of becoming a state, there are no parties in the Church and, indeed, the Church’s members can be found all over the political spectrum. The question of Kosovo is something which we view through the perspective of how its resolution can either positively or negatively impact the survival of the Serbian people and, along with them, our holy sites. It is our holy places in Kosovo and Metohija which act as a great beacon of light in the darkness which shines throughout history, giving us the necessary direction to not get lost in the disorienting chaos of daily existence. Thus, to be silent when faced with a situation where someone could force our people to leave Kosovo and Metohija forever, to not react to the troubles that they are faced with, would be both simply inhuman, and from a spiritual perspective, totally unforgivable.

The differences between the Church’s position and that of the Serbian government on the manner in which the question of Kosovo and Metohija might be resolved do not arise from ideological or political interests, but from the fact that the Church always puts its people and holy places first. The Church does this without concern for their number, and the Church fights for the maintenance of the tradition which is deeply engrained into the very being of the Serbian people and which makes us spiritually and culturally recognizable in the world. Kosovo is a crucial part of that mosaic

Is it a political statement to say that Kosovo is Serbia?

First of all, it’s interesting to note that Kosovo actually was not part of the borders of the Serbian state for the majority of our nation’s history. Nevertheless, Kosovo and all that it represents has never stopped to be the foundation of our identity as a people, the source of our church life, and the inspiration for a wide variety of intellectual movements. When we say that “Kosovo is Serbia” or “Kosovo is Serbian,” above all, we are emphasizing the role of Kosovo and Metohija as the cornerstone of our national and ethnic identity, something without which it would be very difficult for us to continue to exist as a people who have our origins in the traditions of the Nemanjic dynasty. This doesn’t mean at all that in such a conception of things, there is no place for people who are not Serbian or who are not Orthodox Christians. This is a very important distinction, and one which, notably, atheistic nationalism does not make. In the present wider context of the politicization of all spheres of life, it can be difficult for some people to understand the Church’s nuanced position. At present, we are faced with the aggressive establishment of an ethnically-pure Albanian society. This new society threatens to erase our centuries-old existence here and to finally make our lives in Kosovo and Metohija impossible, after having survived here in unbroken continuity for centuries through the many ups and downs of history. This is precisely why we are opposed to the recognition of an independent Kosovo as it has been constituted thus far. Our position is one which transcends politics and instead is an expression of our concern for the fact that in such a society, neither we nor Kosovo will be able to continue on in the mission which we have had for centuries. Albanian nationalism aims to fundamentally change the cultural and historical identity of the entirety of the region once and for all. For the most part, the position taken by the Kosovo Albanians towards Serbs seriously limits any real political options or possibilities for compromise. This is exactly why it’s ridiculous to place blame solely on the Serbian side or to expect compromise only from Serbs, or as they call it here, “to recognize the reality on the field.”

Instead of ultimatums and threats of renewed violence, we must create better living and social conditions, and it is only through doing this that we can hope one day a compromise could be reached. Such conditions can only be brought about by those who have transcended this narrow nationalistic understanding of reality. In terms of actually bringing about these better conditions, unfortunately, not enough has been done, not only by the international community, but especially by the local political structures, which instead of bringing about reconciliation, have begun making suggestions for a resolution that would return us to the tragic years of the collapse of former Yugoslavia and all that entailed.

In the last few days, we heard that according to Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, a compromise would mean “something in between saying that Kosovo is Serbia and saying that Kosovo is independent and Serbia just has to accept that.” Is such an understanding of the term acceptable to you?

Honestly, I think that the majority of politicians in the present government do not really know what this compromise means. Talks take place among very narrow circles of government officials and in the greatest secrecy. I personally possess very credible information, from both local and international sources, that they are already actively working on the details of a territorial exchange along ethnic lines, complete with the “proper” cosmetic legal protections for the remaining Serbs who find themselves on the “other side of the border,” along with a few monasteries. Keeping in mind the reality of Kosovo’s current institutional and democratic capacities, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize how all that would actually turn out. The main goal for Kosovo is to enter the UN, after which there would be no mechanism with which to prevent the unification of the governments in Pristina and Tirana. In the end, Serbia would not even have to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. The border would be with Albania, practically, what the President of Serbia said himself when he spoke about the “border delimitation between Serbs and Albanians”. If this is the compromise that has to take place so that those who finally put their signatures on paper can save face, then it will be very interesting how the people of Serbia will buy into the latest deception and abandon tens of thousands of their fellow countrymen, along with all that connects us to what our forefathers who lived centuries before us, preserved and sacrificed for.

Albanian nationalism aims to fundamentally change the cultural and historical identity of the entirety of the region once and for all. For the most part, the position taken by the Kosovo Albanians towards Serbs seriously limits any real political options or possibilities for compromise

At the same time, the media have begun using their manipulative games in order to trick the whole nation into becoming sympathetic to these disastrous policies. Having in mind the current collective lethargy of the Serbian people, nothing would surprise me anymore, but at the same time, it would be a very painful indicator of the complete collapse of Serbian national dignity. Essentially, it is expected that Serbia legally approves of the ethnic cleansing of this part of our country, and for this it would receive great applause. And then, immediately afterwards, a new string of demands would come up, considering that recognizing Kosovo is just one of many conditions which Serbia must fulfill in order to even begin dreaming of a European future, if the EU is at all willing to ever integrate this part of the continent.

There is again talk of forming a Kosovo Army, are you really convinced that they are not threatening us with war?

Kosovo Albanians will never do anything without international support, without the approval of the key countries that support them. I think that a resumption of active violence would forever end their hope of a European future, which even now is pretty far off in the future for them, considering the rise of far-right politics in Europe. All of this talk about creating a Kosovo Army is just a part of the inner political games to distract attention from the current situation, in which a minority in the Kosovo Parliament holds power. This is, unfortunately, a situation possible through the support of Srpska Lista. At any rate, the majority of young Albanians are mostly just looking for ways to run away from here forever, like from some kind of accursed backwoods province.

Of course, there is always the possibility that a staged conflict could take place even within the next few days, which would basically result in the partition scenario. It would be similar to the troubles of 2004 and is something we have already warned about many times. If such a thing were to take place, I can say with complete certainty that it is possible to happen only with the agreement of both sides and with the approval of the most important international factors, in order to bring about a fait accompli on the ground.

The most popular argument to disenfranchise those who are opposed to the delimitation plan is that they have never been to Kosovo, they don’t know where Ranilug is, they don’t care what happens to people who live in Kosovo…It would be pretty hard to say something similar about you, and yet our government tries to convince us that we don’t even have any people left in Kosovo. Is this question, of if there are Serbs or not in Kosovo, an issue of actual impressions, politics, or facts?

 “Delimitation” is just a made-up, hypocritical euphemism for the division of the territory of Serbia along ethnic lines, just like “final resolution” (Endlösung) was a euphemism for eliminating the Jews in Nazi Germany. Using terms like “border correction,” “demarcation,” and the like all has the same purpose of hiding their true intentions. Basically, “delimitation” actually means abandoning around 80,000 Serbs, leaving them with a very low and even doubtful level of security and protection. And all of this will be allegedly done with hope to accelerate the EU integration, which according to those who are well-informed about the matter, actually has never been further away from Serbia than at the present. Our Church is not against the EU, we have dioceses, parish churches, and monasteries there, and many of our parishioners are citizens of EU-members states. Morally speaking, asking why we should limit Serbia’s future simply because of Ranilug village or a few monasteries is basically equivalent to asking why we can’t just let a sick relative die so we don’t needlessly spend money, since they would die in the end sooner or later. Politics without morals or responsibility is a dangerous thing, and is characteristic of totalitarian regimes in which individuals are not important, but only greater interests, which most often, are actually just the interests of the reigning oligarchs.

Any serious country fights for the rights of each of its citizens, and this is what makes it respected throughout the world. A country which, twenty years after the end of armed hostilities, and taking into account the fact that Kosovo is not recognized by five EU member states along with numerous international organizations and a large number of countries throughout the world, is willing to give away its territory and abandon dozens of thousands of its citizens is a great disgrace, even in the kindest of assessments. I cannot think of a single similar example in modern history. A country which does not respect even its own people cannot expect anyone else to respect it. This does not at all mean that we are calling for a war, or for the creation of a “frozen conflict,” as some maliciously like to imply, but rather, it means that we are seeking a fundamental improvement in the standard of living of our people. We see quite clearly that even after twenty years, there has been no essential progress in the return of displaced persons, nor in the protection of property rights, nor in the protection of religious sites and cultural heritage, and all this despite there being many laws granting protection and the strong international presence in Kosovo. Even if there were not one Serb in Kosovo, a giving away of territory would be a very irresponsible act for Serbia as a state. Given the reality of the situation, it’s really unclear why, instead of insisting upon the implementation of past agreements about the creation of the Assembly of Serbian Communities and engaging in dialogue about the protection of our holy sites as basic prerequisites for any kind of further dialogue or compromise, the Serbian government instead entered into secret negotiations re-drawing borders using the same nationalistic tactics of the 1990s, when Milosevic and Tudjman had similar plans. And today we know that these back-room deals resulted in the tragic slaughter of so many back then and unhealed wounds today, along with the many other “horsemen of the Apocalypse” of the former Yugoslavia. As the Church, we do not provide ready-made political solutions, but nevertheless, we have the right to request the red lines and prerequisite conditions, without which any kind of agreement would be damaging in so many ways to both our people and our country.

I personally possess very credible information, from both local and international sources, that they are already actively working on the details of a territorial exchange along ethnic lines, complete with the “proper” cosmetic legal protections for the remaining Serbs who find themselves on the “other side of the border,” along with a few monasteries. Keeping in mind the reality of Kosovo’s current institutional and democratic capacities, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize how all that would actually turn out

The Serbian government claims that the loudest supporters of maintaining full Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo are nothing more than big hypocrites as they “largely have dual citizenship and Kosovo documents.” Is it true that daily life without Kosovo documents is so impossible that this, in fact, speaks in favor of the idea of partition?

This kind of argument really can’t hold water as all the members of Srpska Lista who work in Kosovo institutions, either as representatives or MPs, obviously possess Kosovo documents, just like the rest of the Serbs who cooperate with Albanian partners south of the Ibar. The fact of the matter is that without possessing a Kosovo identity card, it is impossible to live normally, especially given that the majority of Serbs living in Kosovo are deprived of the right of obtaining normal documents from Serbia and instead are issued identity cards and passports (from “re-located police offices”) which are not recognized by not only the Kosovo authorities but also not by Macedonia or Albania. Additionally, those possessing these passports must obtain visas in order to travel to Schengen countries. What’s more, I know, with total certainty, that those same people who bring up Kosovo ID cards as an issue themselves possess Kosovo diplomatic passports; their hypocrisy knows no limits. Moreover, in the times of Ottoman Turkish rule, Decani Monastery had Turkish seals written in Arabic script, and during World War II, our monks had documents issued by the occupation authorities. All this says nothing about the issue of partition, but rather is just an indicator of the conditions in which people are living in this region of Serbia which proclaimed itself as this political entity. Nevertheless, we have to enable people to have basic access to administrative services and do all we can to make their lives easier.

What is the greatest problem facing the Serbs who remain in Kosovo? What is it that those who talk about a resolution to the “Kosovo problem” and who make proclamations from Belgrade really have no idea about?

Simply, that this region is ruled by a system that, on the one hand has a really very cosmetic facade of a supposed democracy, while on the other hand, is simply a backdrop which functions as a network of family and criminal clans which actually control all aspects of society and confidently make use of Kosovo’s institutions as a means towards securing their own personal power. Unfortunately, this model is not one limited to Kosovo and we see that it has proven very “successful” for the entire West Balkan region. Instead of working on a deeper change in society in which the old generation of political leaders who acquired power and authority during and immediately after the war would be replaced by a younger generation and a society which would be based on the principles of contemporary liberal democracy, some international sponsors of Kosovo, for merely pragmatic reasons, have instead chosen to continue supporting those who make the establishment of a functional society impossible. Unfortunately, the situation in Serbian majority areas is not any better, where we see the same methods of maintaining authority in action. It’s really no wonder that organized crime functions quite well without any problems, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, and not only here, but throughout the Balkans. Politics is just a cover for this underworld which influences both politics and society at large. Having strong ties between politics and organized crime has become the new modus operandi for a whole set of post-communist societies.

Participants in the actually non-existent “inner dialogue” concerning Kosovo, whether they are members of the dominant party or the “opposition,” all assure the people that they have only the interests of Serbia and the Serbian people in mind. If this is true, then how are there so many different views on resolving the matter?

As a certain wise man said, to be a politician today is not a profession, but a symptom of a mental illness. Any politician who has lost touch with one’s electorate in the first place becomes a tool for an autocratic government which no longer acts in the interests of the people, but instead manipulates the people for its own personal survival. We see that such a mentality has been in place in Serbia for quite some time already, and that nothing about this has changed even a little bit, and so essentially, for now, Serbia will not move from such a position. Politics without ethics is extremely dangerous, for in such a situation, there is nothing which is not permitted so as to merely hold on to power. I am afraid that the atheistic and autocratic society model that was introduced here after WWII has only undergone certain outward modifications, and that essentially nothing has really changed. Democracy is always a risk, since, if it is placed into the hands of a morally bankrupt oligarchy, it can easily become an outright dictatorship. After all, wasn’t the Roman Empire until the very end still called the Roman Republic? Didn’t the Nazis come to power in Germany through democratic means? The belief of western democracies that democracy can simply be copy-pasted in any society is basically false.

Are you spiritually or politically opposed to the members of Srpska Lista who presently represent the Serbian people in Kosovo?

I do not see myself as being opposed to anyone per se, since the Church’s stance is always affirmative in the sense that we stand for values which we see as being important for all people. If the Church’s positions sometimes line up with those of the political opposition, this really doesn’t mean that the Church is aligning itself with a political group. The Church’s purpose here is to bring together people of all political perspectives into one spiritual direction, not to contribute to their further division. Of course, a problem arises when individuals or certain political groups perceive the Church’s voice as being a danger to their own interests. The result is name-calling, defamation, and even outright persecution, as we could see during the time of communism but which we are also seeing now. The differences between the Church’s position and that of the Serbian government on the manner in which the question of Kosovo and Metohija might be resolved do not arise from ideological or political interests, but from the fact that the Church always puts its people and holy places first. The Church does this without concern for their number, and the Church fights for the maintenance of the tradition which is deeply engrained into the very being of the Serbian people and which makes us spiritually and culturally recognizable in the world. Kosovo is a crucial part of that mosaic. In other words, we cannot imagine how the interests of Serbia could possibly be realized by sacrificing a certain number of its citizens in the name of a vaguely-defined “national goal.” This is especially true when we are in a situation where the state authorities, as was mentioned in the Holy Synod’s official communication on the issue, was completely unwilling to open a basic dialogue with the Church to address the reasons for our concern and how to protect the interests of the Church and the people in Kosovo. The utter lack of dialogue and transparency is precisely a recipe for lack of trust, which has now been created among a large part of the people in Serbia with reference to politics in Kosovo. The consequences of such irresponsible moves could easily be very tragic for everyone.

This church is both a constant reminder and a constant source of inspiration for those of us who live here and for everyone who visits. It speaks to us with each one of its stones, every relief, every fresco, and with this marvelous beauty it joins together Western Romanesque and Gothic architecture with Serbian Byzantine artistry, and reminds us of what we were, what we are, and what we need to be

Have you ever had the thought, “If I weren’t bound by these monastic robes, I would react differently.” I’m thinking of the accusations that you are a part of a “spy network, a collaborator with the CIA, and a promotor of independent Kosovo.” What do you have to say about everything you have head about yourself which is, if not offensive, then certainly highly out of order?

These accusations are so bizarre and untrue that I’ve actually never even felt the need to deny them. Even entering into a discussion with the people who say these things would be pointless, since then I would be lowering myself to their level of malicious slander and political gossip. Instead, I would prefer to let actions speak rather than words, how much we all in the Diocese of Raska-Prizren have spent the last twenty years trying to protect our people, and in such impossible conditions. This is something which everyone already knows. Just the very fact that Decani Monastery is the most-attacked religious site belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija, and that it is the only one to remain under strong KFOR protection, shows that what we have to say does not please those who wish that we and our monastery were no more, and so our presence bothers them the most.

A large number of the Serbian people are informed by news media close to the regime and have no idea who you really are. Before anyone else, they are ready to believe the President of Serbia, and thus think that you are in support of an independent Kosovo. How would you respond to these accusation’s of Vucic’s if you were to hear them spoken to your face?

Personally, I think that in today’s society, many people get their information through other means, especially the youth, who make wide use of the internet. In the last few months, when there was a huge smear campaign in the media, I actually received a lot of support and understanding from all sides. The things that we have been hearing from even representatives of the highest levels of the government are just so ridiculous and morally bankrupt that it is hard to believe that anyone with basic common sense would believe such tales. They are simply recycling the same old material that was used by the Milošević regime, who also in his own time did not find the Church’s positions to his liking. However, in the existing political and media imagination which we see today in Serbia, everything has been turned into some kind of reality show, without any kind of morals or responsibility. Neither I, nor anyone in the Serbian Orthodox Church, has any personal conflict with our politicians. Nothing about any of this is personal. Simply, on a deep level, we do not agree. From a moral and really, a simply human perspective, this should not be a cause for the initiation of a shameful media campaign in which people who are really brothers go on slandering one another. The Serbian government is basing its stance on simple but very one-sided logic: Kosovo is obviously lost and so it’s better we at least get something instead of losing everything. However, my stance and that of the Serbian Orthodox Church is that Kosovo is not just some territory that we can divide up and give away, at least, not without risking losing much more than what is already 15% of de jure Serbian territory. Apart from any political considerations, our reasons for being opposed to this plan are based on moral considerations. It simply comes down to the reality that the majority of our people who live south of the Ibar River would basically be forced to leave, since they would be abandoned to a society founded upon an obsessive need to erase any trace of other ethnic groups and instead to present everything as being ethnic Albanian. Our people are organically linked to our holy sites, and Kosovo represents a key piece in the development of the spiritual, cultural, and national DNA of the Serbian people.

While there are of course honorable exceptions among Kosovo Albanians, whom I greatly respect, I still have not concretely seen anyone that is in a position to more openly oppose the reigning ideology which has unwaveringly been headed in the direction of forming Greater (ethnic) Albania. Everything that has been done to help or support Serbs has been done under international pressure and will last only as long as there is an international mechanism of coercion. Only one thing is expected of Serbia, and that is to either directly or indirectly recognize a version of an independent Kosovo that essentially, in so doing, Serbia would be participating in the disappearance of a section of its own people and deprive itself of a crucial element of its identity. Thus, it would become a third world country without dignity, history, or basic self-knowledge. Whoever is ready to participate in such a project should think long and hard about how they want to be remembered in history.

For those of us in Kosovo and Metohija, at least for those of us who live in the monasteries and holy sites, we have absolutely no doubts, since in defending the values which we live for, we begin to become authentic persons. In our history as a people, if there had not been brave individuals who had had the possibility of finding refuge in emigration but who chose to stay with their people and to fight for something better and more just, then we would not have had many of the great sons that the Serbian nation put forth. Of course, this does not exclude those who left Serbia but who continued to help their people from abroad

What do you mean when you talk about a “media blackout”?

A free press is a very important corrective force in a democratic society, along with an independent judiciary and legislature along with other elements. But, just as politics without morals leads to totalitarianism, so too media without responsibility and morals leads to cheap tabloids, which then become simply a means to further the interests of individuals who only want to manipulate the public. Professional media outlets do not offer ready-made conclusions, but instead offer facts and arguments, presenting many viewpoints, and leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions. Unfortunately, today in Serbia this has become a rarity with the politicization of the media, whether in service to the regime or in opposition to it. It has truly become the new norm, and we can barely speak of there being professional journalism in Serbia today. There are only a few daily and weekly newspapers that are exceptions to this, one of which is NIN. A society that no longer has a place for serious investigative journalism, criticism, and even healthy political satire, all with the purpose of furthering society, is simply doomed to languish in the realms of immoral tabloids that use a combination of political gossip, bizarre, non-sequitur information, and outright pornography to dull down the people’s minds and turn them into a passive horde that can be easily manipulated. In Serbia today, the media situation is even worse than it was twenty years ago, with an atmosphere of fear of public lynching and the open threatening and slandering of journalists. It is a part of the political culture (or rather lack thereof) that we see at every level. To even speak of Serbia as moving in a European direction when there is this kind of relationship towards the media is utterly absurd.

What is a monk doing on Twitter? Doesn’t one necessarily exclude the other? What do you use Twitter for?

The internet is a very important means of communication, and the Christian faith is one that is at its most basic level is founded upon the communication of the Lord’s good news (the original Greek meaning of the word “Gospel”). Social media can be a powerful tool to express not only religious, but also fundamental human issues and values which reflect our relationship with God. Twitter is specific in that it, by design, uses just a few words to convey a message. In an era when people have issues understanding more complex information, a carefully constructed tweet can have a huge impact. It’s with good reason that the ancient Romans valued short proverbs that we still use today and which speak volumes. A simple tweet can highlight specific moral or political principles, present some important topics, and direct the reader to texts where it is all explained in more detail. Of course, as with everything else, Twitter can be used for things like blasphemy, spreading inappropriate material, and just plain gossip. Every tweet is like a mirror looking into the person who wrote it.

You make your posts using your own name, what do you make then of the hundreds who insultingly re-tweet you using fake profiles?

Today, these Twitter bots have become a real profession for some people. You just have to take a look at the profiles that are constantly re-tweeting the same insulting content. It’s individuals who, for money, make use of one or more profiles to either mindlessly glorify those who paid them, or shamelessly insult those whose threads they are supposed to follow, or spam and troll specific topics so that they can neutralize the message of those who are actually commenting. They usually work in packs that get specific instructions from their superiors. Taking into account the low level of “professionalism” of these regime bots, I will just say that they themselves are a real indicator of how much a particular topic is uncomfortable for those who have ordered these Twitter lynchings. Twitter bots shouldn’t even be dignified with a response, since their whole purpose is to drag you down to their level of vulgar discourse. That’s how they suck the meaning and importance out of the topic that was being discussed.

What kind of meaning or significance could it have for someone to individually fight for truth and justice, to stay in their own country, in Kosovo, in Belgrade, in Valjevo, in Kraljevo, if they don’t believe in God?

The struggle for a better society in one’s homeland has always presented a risk, but also a special challenge. Do we simply run far away from everything, or do we come face to face with the real problems at hand? This is an issue of free choice for every person who wants to grow and develop as a human being. For those of us in Kosovo and Metohija, at least for those of us who live in the monasteries and holy sites, we have absolutely no doubts, since in defending the values which we live for, we begin to become authentic persons. In our history as a people, if there had not been brave individuals who had had the possibility of finding refuge in emigration but who chose to stay with their people and to fight for something better and more just, then we would not have had many of the great sons that the Serbian nation put forth. Of course, this does not exclude those who left Serbia but who continued to help their people from abroad. However, in our struggles to change the world around us, we must first of all be victors over our own egos. If we begin to try to change the society around us without having been transformed ourselves, we will find that we will just fall into the same traps as those we are trying to change. This is why without an inner change both at an individual and a wider level, of the political culture, of the rules of behavior in political life, and without responsible journalists, brave and independent courts, and good laws which seek to bring about what is truly good and meaningful, we will only continue to spin around in the same vicious circle.

Olja Bećković

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