A singer filmed a music video on the grounds of an Orthodox temple in Novo Brdo in a special protected zone

Albana Azizi, an Albanian singer, filmed a video for her new song on the remains of the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas in Novo Brdo. Before the video was posted on YouTube in late October, Pristina officials and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kosovo attempted to portray this Orthodox temple as a Catholic Church.

The music video for the song „Sa mira ta bona“ by Albanian singer Albana Azizi, recently posted on Youtube, was filmed on the grounds of the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. The same church caught the public’s eye in early August, when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kosovo Dode Gjergji and the retired Bishop of Bar Zef Gashi with their clergy and a group of believers served a mass at the remains of this Orthodox temple. As it was announced, the mass was held in commemoration of August 1 – the (Albanian) Diaspora Day and, for the very first time, at the “Catholic Church of St. Nicholas.”

Shortly thereafter, a Kosovo flag was displayed at the medieval fortress „Novo Brdo“, in the vicinity of this church.

On the other hand, Serbian history and Christianity considers the same church as a Serbian Orthodox church and the cathedral church for the Serbian Orthodox bishops of Novo Brdo and Gracanica. The Serbian Orthodox Church and Eparchy of Raska-Prizren reacted at the time, expressing deep disappointment over the “abuse and provocation”, while an initiative was launched in the Vatican so that „Albanian clergy“ in Kosovo would not „in this way unnecessarily provoke tension and desecrate the religious and cultural-historical monuments of the Serb people.“ The answer from the Vatican arrived in Belgrade, however, it is still unknown to the public.

In the coming days, Kosovo officials claimed that Serbia was „obsessed with falsifying history“ and that „Kosovo’s religious and cultural heritage belongs to the citizens of Kosovo.“

The dispute of the legacy of the Novo Brdo fortress and church first appeared in the public in early June when the Kosovo Ministry of Culture announced construction at the „cathedral in Artana, formerly Novo Brdo,“ claiming that the same site is a Roman Catholic church.

The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren also reacted at the time, underlining that it is one of 40 special protected zones – which are subject to a special procedure under the Kosovo laws.

„This special procedure of determining if work can be carried out on a site depends not only on the decisions of Kosovo institutions but also the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church,“ the eparchy stressed, recalling that the temple of St. Nicholas is located in one of forty special protected zones.

Law on special protective zones

The purpose of the Law on special protective zones is to “ensure the protection of Serbian Orthodox Monasteries, Churches, other religious sites, as well as historical and cultural sites of special significance for the Kosovo Serb community, as well as other communities in Kosovo, through the establishment of Special Protective Zones”.

The aim of this law, according to Article 3, is to preserve the character and appearance of the sites to be protected, in particular, the historical, cultural, architectural or archeological context, and to prevent “adverse development” around the sites to be protected.

According to article 6 of the Law on the „new activities“ in protected zones, the Municipality of Novo Brdo is to consult directly with Serbian Orthodox Church concerning activities taking place at the site.

Public gatherings, recreation, entertainment are included the list of these activities, including the construction of warehouses, workshops, shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels/motels and any other major construction in rural areas.

German ambassador to Pristina, Christian Heldt, whose embassy financed works on the site from the Cultural Heritage Fund, said the project only preserved what was already on site. Heldt did not comment on the way the site was presented by the Kosovo Ministry of Culture.

So far, the Eparchy of Raska-Prizren did not react to the filming of a music video on this site.

This is not the first time an Albanian singer had used an Orthodox temple to shoot a music video. Four years ago, a popular Albanian singer, Era Istrefi, filmed a video at the Church of Christ the Savior in Pristina.

This temple was also used as a shelter for the homeless and a latrine, and years ago the Albanian public and students proposed for it to be turned into a „genocide museum“.

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