‘Ali Hadri’ objects to US ambassador’s call for Constitutional Court to implement the decision and return land to Visoki Decani monastery

Manastir Visoki Dečani
Foto: Lazar Rakić

“The Decani municipality and the cadastral agency must not enforce the decision of the Constitutional Court on the monastery land because that would mean that Milosevic’s laws are being enforced in Kosovo”, the Association of Kosovo Historians „Ali Hadri“ from Decani said last night. They reacted to the US ambassador to Pristina, Philip Kosnett’s op-ed on recalling law enforcement in Kosovo, which also includes the delayed implementation of the Constitutional Court’s decision to return 24 ha land to the Decani Monastery property.

“We continue to witness cases in which Kosovo institutions have failed to act within the law and enforce decisions of the judiciary” – reads one of the messages of the US ambassador to Pristina in an op-ed published by the KoSSev portal yesterday.

As an example of such practices, Kosnett cited the case of Visoki Decani monastery property. He said that despite the 2016 decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court, „and with the tacit support of senior officials and party leaders“ – throughout several governments led by different political parties, for nearly five years – local and central-level cadastral officials have failed to implement the decision by legally registering the church’s land.

The Association of Kosovo Historians „Ali Hadri“ from Decani criticized again the US ambassador’s stance, saying that the decision of the Constitutional Court is „unconstitutional“ and „illegal“.

„The US ambassador to Kosovo must realize that the unconstitutional and illegal decision of the Constitutional Court from May 2016 was based on decisions from the time of Milosevic’s violent measures, in the period 1990-1999. These decisions have been declared null and void by the United Nations administration in Kosovo, and as such, they are unacceptable and unjust decisions,“ the association wrote in a statement, Kosovo media reported.

Historians from Decani addressed Kosnett and other ambassadors in Pristina, saying that they “must understand the duplicitous game of the abbot of the Decani monastery“, whom they describe as „one of the main architects of the war for Kosovo’s statehood“.

This association once again harshly criticized the Abbot of the monastery, Sava Janjic, alleging that he „caused great damage to Kosovo through malicious decisions.“

This was not the first time that this association of Kosovo historians has criticized with harsh words the monastery of Visoki Decani and the clergy, especially Abbot Sava Janjic, even in the cases when international representatives showed public support for the monastery. In addition to these accusations, they have made threats with ultimatums, protests, and roadblocks.

The association urged the Municipality of Decani and the cadastral agency not to enforce, as they wrote, „the unconstitutional and illegal decision of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo,“ because that would mean „enforcing Milosevic’s laws in Kosovo“.

„The leaders of the Decani monastery, before claiming property at the expense of the citizens of Decani, must apologize for the genocide committed by the church, the people, and the Serb state against Kosovo Albanians.“

According to the “Ali Hadri” association, any attempt to forgive the Decani monastery is “wrong and unacceptable.“

The Albanian organization opposes the decision to confirm the monastery’s ownership over 24 hectares of land, they also made threats of roadblocks, protests, and other actions.

The monastery land was previously socially owned by the companies „Apika“ and „Ilirija“, which ceased to exist in 1993. The ownership of the monastery over this country, after several years of proceedings, was confirmed in 2016 by the highest legal body in Kosovo – the Constitutional Court. The decision is irrevocable, and any opposition to it is a violation of Kosovo law.

The Constitutional Court’s decision in English, click HERE

In 1946, 700 hectares of land were seized from the monastery of Visoki Decani. In 1997, the state of Serbia returned 24 hectares to the monastery, which had been socially owned until then because „Apiko“ and „Ilirija“ companies ceased to exist in 1993. This land, together with the twenty hectares the monastery had until then – makes a total of 55 hectares of monastic land. The returned 24 hectares were duly registered in the cadastre, but after 1999, the local Kosovo authorities did not recognize this decision. Although the monastery uses the land, the municipality has adopted a series of measures to challenge the monastery’s ownership. However, the then international institutions took a clear position that this issue could not be resolved in the local court, but the Supreme Court of Kosovo. Thus, the process was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in 2008, and after 16 years of trial, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo confirmed two decisions of the Supreme Court recognizing the monastery’s ownership of the land. The decision of the Constitutional Court is irrevocable and there is no appeal process. However, the municipality of Decani refuses to register the church’s land and opposes the court’s decisions.

Every year, the US ambassador in Pristina reminds of the obligation to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court.

Visoki Decani has been under UNESCO protection since 2005 and under KFOR protection since ’99. The monastery was the target of four armed attacks – two mortar attacks in 2000 and 2004, a hand grenade rocket attack in 2007, as well as several terrorist attack attempts.

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