Charles meets families who lost loved ones in the Balkans War


The Prince of Wales ended his tour of the Balkans by stressing the importance of reconciliation between various countries in the region, and in the world.

The issue was at the heart of the trip for him, and saw Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visiting Croatia, Serbia, Montengro and Kosovo over six days.

During the final engagement of the tour the prince went to Prizren where he was hosted by the Sinan Pasha Mosque, the Serbian Orthodox Church of St George, and the Roman Catholic Church of our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

He was greeted to the area by hundreds of people - including children, excitedly waving flags and clapping.

Charles concluded the visit by delivering a speech at an interfaith conference at the Theranda Hotel.

He said: "I listened this morning to some of the families who has lost their loved ones - missing persons. I know there are so many still in this country.

"They asked me if I could help, I wish I could do more. It seems to me there is so much unnecessary death and destruction around the world.

"We see it all the time now in the Middle East. It is utterly heart-breaking. It is utterly pointless. Yet now we have an ideal opportunity to rebuild bridges."

Charles continued: "I understand the appalling agonies, the dreadful experiences, the pain but in order for countries which have been through such utter horror to recover, that has to be part of the building the new foundation.

"I pray that those courageous people that cross the bridge to the other side win the day in the end.

"So I pray that as a result of meetings like this and all the marvellous work that's being done by so many courageous people, Kosovo will have a really special future.

"I'm so proud my country, the United Kingdom, has been able to play a small part in the renewal of Kosovo."

Before visiting Prizren, Charles met relatives of some of the 1,668 people who have been missing since the country's conflict in 1999.

After meeting President, Atifete Jahjaga, in the country's capital, Pristina, Charles took some time to meet adoring members of the public who waited for hours to see him.

He emotionally embraced a number of women, who told him about their plight after seeing him lay a bunch of white roses at a memorial for the missing.

One woman, 55-year-old Elvane Dana, told the Prince that 10 members of her family were taken - including her 16 and 18-year-old sons - from their home, and that only eight had returned.

They were taken from Glakova on May 10 1999, and almost 17 years later are still unaccounted for.

On hearing her story, Charles leaned in to give her a hug.

Taking a deep breath, and holding back tears, Ms Dana said: "I am so honoured. I have a special respect for the UK and we need all the help we can get.

"I am touched the prince took the time to hear my story, and that he so lovingly hugged me."

More people went missing from Glakova in the south west of the country during the war than anywhere else.

Charles also met representatives from the Red Cross and the EU who are aiding Kosovo in its attempts to identify victims and investigate mass graves. During her meeting with the prince, Ms Jahjaga awarded him the Order for Peace, Democracy and Humanism.

The gold medallion and certificate were presented to Charles for his "life long contribution to supporting peace harmony and better understanding between people in Kosovo and beyond".

Receiving the honour, he said: "Thank you very much - I shall treasure it."