Ceku: Serbia to return 1,247 artifacts to Kosovo; Gojkovic: Pristina is trying to falsify history

figurica
FOTO: Kosovsko ministarstvo kulture/Tviter

In just one week, the Kosovo Ministry of Culture urged Belgrade on three separate occasions to „return“ 1,247 artifacts to Kosovo. The last such request was made by the Kosovan Minister of Culture, Hajrulla Ceku, who accused Serbia last night of appropriating artifacts as part of its „genocidal project against Albanians“. The Serbian Minister of Culture and Information, Maja Gojkovic, on the other hand, says that Pristina is trying to “falsify history.”

Following the recent visit of Europa Nostra representatives to Kosovo, and reminders that the decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court on the land of the Visoki Decani monastery has not yet been implemented, Pristina leveled a barrage of accusations against Belgrade.

In the previous days, the Kosovo Ministry of Culture called for the help of international institutions – via Twitter – in „returning“ two artifacts to Kosovo – part of the previously mentioned 1,247 artifacts – a figurine and okarina from the Neolithic period.

The head of the Ministry of Culture, Hajrulla Ceku, also reacted last night, stating that 24 years ago, the Serbian Academy of Sciences took 1,247 artifacts from Kosovo, which are still being held “unjustly and illegally” in Belgrade museums. According to Ceku, Serbia had thus violated the 1999 agreement.

“1,247 artifacts of Kosovo public museum collection were taken from the National Museum of Kosova during wartime (1998-99) by the Serbian Academy of Sciences. It was part of Serbia’s genocidal project against Albanians’ history/identity, alongside the destruction of over 1,000 heritage sites,” Ceku tweeted.

The Kosovo minister said that almost 24 years later, the collection is still being „unfairly and illegally held in Belgrade museums“.

„According to the original agreement, the artifacts were taken for a temporary exhibition, but still not returned to where they belong, the National Museum of Kosovo,” he said.

He assessed that Serbia is „blatantly violating the original agreement of 1998/99 signed between respective institutions of Kosovo and Serbia, the UNESCO 1970 Convention on thereturn of cultural property to the place of origin and the Ahtisaari document that sets a timeframe for the return of the collection.”

Addressing this request from Pristina, the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information announced last week that it is „another in a series of hypocritical provocations“, aimed at appropriating cultural heritage.

This ministry also appealed to international organizations not to „buy this act“, pointing out a large number of destroyed and damaged churches and monasteries, and tombstones in the previous two decades, especially on March 17th, 2004.

„This testifies to the deep disrespect, vandalism and anti-civilizational attitude towards the cultural heritage in general and the entire heritage of humanity and at the same time speaks of the brutality of the misuse of cultural heritage issues for daily political purposes,“ they said.

The Pristina Museum sent a similar request to Belgrade in May of last year, accompanied by a letter from the Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs, Donika Gervalla Schwartz.

At the time, they officially asked the National Museum in Belgrade, the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, to „return 1,247 artifacts taken in 1998 and 1999“ to Kosovo – which „are unjustly kept in Serbia.“

Pristina also sent a letter to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), while Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti sent a verbal request.

The Serbian side had repeatedly reiterated that the artifacts are a cultural treasure of the state of Serbia, that Kosovo is not recognized, and that the Kosovo authorities have continuously shown that they threaten the cultural heritage. Also, they emphasized that an object from 1998 and 1999 cannot possibly belong to an institution that did not even exist at the time. They also stated that this issue should also be included in the Brussels dialogue.

Serb Minister of Culture and Information: Pristina is trying to falsify history

Serbian Minister of Culture and Information, Maja Gojkovic, said today that Pristina has had a new strategic goal in the last year – an attack on the Serbian cultural heritage on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.

„They are trying to falsify history and national identity. Only a malicious person or a politician can raise his hand and vote for the membership of Pristina in UNESCO, next to so much pogrom and destruction of our holy sites,“ Gojkovic told Tanjug news agency.

She described Pristina’s request to hand over numerous Neolithic artifacts, excavated in the territory of Kosovo, as the latest attempts „to falsify history and artificially create an identity“.

„We are very strict when it comes to this. The cooperation of the Ministry of Culture with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, and our ambassador to UNESCO is good. We discuss this topic with the countries with which we have bilateral agreements.”

We cannot allow someone to steal our cultural heritage while stealing our territory – Gojkovic concluded.

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