“With facts and documents, we are fighting against attempts to steal our heritage,” wrote the abbot of the Visoki Dečani monastery, Archimandrite Sava Janjić, on his Twitter account a few days ago, sharing a link to the online edition of the monograph “Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija”.
A luxury book in English that recently caught the public’s attention when it appeared in the background of a photo on Twitter – a meeting between Oliver Varhelyi, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood, and Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, at the Serbian Mission’s office in the European Union – is also available in electronic form.
Thus, Viola von Cramon, the rapporteur for Kosovo in the European Parliament, who noticed the monograph in the picture from the meeting and who commented on it with the words: “I think we deserve an explanation for this”, will be able to find it on the Internet. Although a good part of the explanation of the purpose of the monograph is already contained in the tweet of father Sava Janjić, to those for whom the monograph is a “diplomatic scandal” and “chauvinistic” propaganda, such explanations probably mean little.
“Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija” on 1,008 pages, illustrated with more than 900 reproductions, was jointly published in 2015 by “Sebastian Press”, the publishing house of the Western American Diocese, the Balkan Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Orthodox Theological Faculty. Her editorial team, along with other associates, included Bishop Maxim of West America, Academician Dušan Bataković and retired Bishop of Zahumlje-Herzegovina Atanasije Jevtić.
Collecting texts of historians, theologians, publicists, artists, translations of historical documents and charters, the monograph testifies to the centuries-old presence and duration of the Serbian church and the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. One of its editors and publishers, Bishop Maxim of West America, speaking about the “diplomatic scandal” caused by the monograph, says for “Politika” that it is “a blessing, not a scandal – and for all parties”.
“This monograph on the endowments of Kosovo and Metohija has become one of the emblems of our state.” It explicitly proves that Kosovo is an essential part of the Orthodox Serbian heritage, and that is why, according to Darko Tanasković, it played an important role in refusing to allow the so-called state of Kosovo becomes a member of UNESCO. It also opens the eyes of Albanians to a different point of view, calling on them to experience this heritage as universal, because it was created on Christian foundations, and to give up discrimination against Serbs and non-Albanians, because that does not lead to peace and stability. The Church values every effort of the Serbian state if it does not renounce its legitimate historical and democratic rights based on international law and valid standards in international relations. Modern Serbian spirituality and the Serbian idea of state-building were built on the tradition of Kosovo. Therefore, we do not do justice to history if we agree to make the current geopolitical situation a measure of our political decision-making “, points out Bishop Maxim.
The Bishop also explains in Western America how the idea of publishing such a monograph came about.
“When Serb forces left Kosovo and Metohija in June 1999, and a wave of crimes against the remaining Serbs spread through the province, I witnessed Patriarch Pavle’s meeting with the KFOR commander-in-chief and other world officials. Our patriarch tried to explain to them how important Kosovo is for the Serbian people, and he gave them the monograph “Kosovo Endowment” from 1987. It was then unanimously stated that it was a pity that the book did not exist in English. This encouraged me that in 2015, with the help of prof. Bataković and Bishop Atanasije Jevtić, I am publishing our monograph. It pretends to be a modest reminder of the common debt: to be the guardians of these endowments and to provide protection for our people and saints “, says Bishop Maxim.
The promotions were held in the Library of Congress in Washington, as well as in the chapel of the famous Kings College in London, but also in New York, Vienna, Paris, Stockholm … Pope Francis and Prince Charles received it as a gift from the then-president of Serbia by Tomislav Nikolić. Many world libraries, the Washington Congress, the British Library in London, have a copy of the monograph, and one of the publishers’ ideas was for members of the Serbian diaspora in the United States to deliver a copy of the book to their congressman or university or city library so that they can know what Serbs speak when they talk about Kosovo and Metohija.
“There is something eschatological in these geographical terms. On the other side of the etymology, they are a symbol of endowment and an expression of creation illuminated by the light of the kingdom of God. They cry out for justice that will come not from men, but from God. The church is not an “exotic” religion that looks “up”, but it strives “forward”, which means that it puts itself, its actions and history under the light and the court of the future kingdom, waiting for the master of the harvest and “mowing God’s meadow.” The Kosovo Covenant invites us to accept the civilizational challenges of the time, not fleeing from historical reality, but striving for the transformation of society and culture. I believe that this monograph awakens awareness of the importance of identity, which has been built for centuries on the synthesis of Christianity and Greek culture and Roman law “, points out Bishop Maxim of West America.
The book is divided into eight chapters and can be browsed online at this link.