Diocese: Reconstruction of SOC holy sites was agreed with UNDP and not with Kosovo institutions

Crkva Eparhija raško prizrenska
FOTO: Eparhija raško-prizrenska

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren has had no meetings or made any agreements with the Pristina institutions regarding the reconstruction of Orthodox churches, the Diocese of Raska and Prizren reacted to the recent announcement by the Kosovo Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports, Hajrulla Ceku, about the restoration of cultural monuments, including three SOC churches in Kosovo.

The Kosovo Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, recently announced that it launched a program of restoration interventions of 21 cultural sites in Kosovo, including three SOC churches, in partnership with UNDP and the EU Office in Kosovo.

The Kosovan minister of Culture, Hajrulla Ceku, confirmed that the restoration program includes the Draganac Monastery, the Church of the most Holy Mother of God in Kosovska Kamenica, and the Tamnica Monastery.

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren reacted late last night, stating that the reconstruction of SOC sites was agreed only with UNDP representatives.

“The representatives of the Diocese discussed the reconstruction of the above mentioned sites only with UNDP representatives which have expressed readiness as an international institution to financially support the reconstruction process in cooperation with the Diocesan office for spiritual and cultural heritage. No participation of the Ministry of Culture from Pristina in these projects was mentioned,” the Diocese wrote in a statement.

Previously, Ceku as well as several other top Pristina officials sent multiple letters to international organizations claiming that the SOC sites in Kosovo, or what they consider to be „Kosovo’s cultural heritage monuments“, are not endangered. The Pristina officials’ allegations are at odds with the claims of the SOC, but also the findings of the reports on the state of religious freedom in Kosovo.

The Kosovo officials’ initiative was fast-tracked after Europa Nostra included Visoki Decani on the list of the seven most endangered monuments in Europe in early April.

In a recent post on social networks, Ceku listed 14 points on what he sees as interfaith harmony – „the quality that distinguishes Kosovo society.“ 

“We cultivate special respect towards our places of worship,” he emphasized.

He also claimed that the majority of the reported incidents at religious sites took place at Muslim sites, and that only a small number of incidents occurred at Orthodox sites.

The two separate reports on the state of religious rights in Kosovo show different results, such as the one by the US State Department: State Department report on religious freedom: Decision on V. Decani’s land still ignored, 57 incidents targeting religious sites

 

And the Kosovan civil society: The Kosovo government to provide better protection of religious sites and full enforcement of the Law on SPZ

 

The Serbian Orthodox Church does not share the Kosovo Minister’s view, neither does the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, which repeatedly warned of the growing threat to SOC sites in Kosovo. The Diocese stated recently that it suspended cooperation with Kosovo institutions as the Kosovo Constitutional Court’s decision from 2016 to return the monastery land to Visoki Decani has not been implemented yet.

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