BELGRADE, PRIZREN — NATO Commander of the United States European Command James Stavridis visited the Visoki Dečani monastery in Kosovo.
He also met with Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan to discuss the protection of Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo.
“Admiral Stavridis, who is of Greek Orthodox descent, showed great interest in the Visoki Dečani monastery and the preservation of Serbian Orthodox holy places in Kosovo,” the Raško-Prizren Eparchy stated.
Bishop Teodosije said that the international civil forces are important in Kosovo and that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) believes that it is important for the KFOR forces to continue securing eight of the most important Serbian holy places in Kosovo.
“Stavridis assured Bishop Teodosije that NATO will not take any further steps regarding the protection of Serbian holy places without prior dialogue with the SPC, and that the SPC’s concerns regarding security questions will be taken into consideration,” the statement added.
KFOR commander General Markus Bentler, Commanders of the East and West forces, Alan Dorman and Vincenzo Grasso, and Stavridis’s main team of advisors also visited the monastery.
“Bishop Teodosije thanked Admiral Stavridis for the efforts of KFOR in protecting the Serbian Orthodox holy places and adding that the SPC appreciates KFOR’s contributions to the return process, especially in Metohija enclaves, as well as the support that the soldiers offer regularly for securing churches in parts of Kosovo where their safety is endangered,” the Eparchy added.
KFOR troops protect Visoki Dečani, the Peć patriarchy, Gračanica, Devič, Sveti arhangeli, Gorioč, Zočišti and Budisavci monestaries.
Devič and Sveti arhangeli were burned and destroyed during the March 2004 violence in Kosovo.