Kosovo media: Serbian religious sites were restored by the Kosovo government; The Eparchy denies

Manastir Visoki Dečani
Photo: Lazar Rakic

Kosovo media reported yesterday that the Kosovo police have been guarding Serbian Orthodox churches for 9 years now, having received this responsibility from KFOR. According to data of the Eparchy of Raska-Prizren, however, although it is true that 16 churches in the territory of Kosovo are under the constant protection of the Kosovo Police, while two more are regularly visited by police patrols, one of the most important Orthodox temples in Kosovo, Visoki Decani monastery is still under KFOR’s protection. In addition, the media also reported that all Orthodox churches damaged or destroyed during the March violence were restored with funds of the Kosovo government, which the Eparchy also denied.

„The NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo handed over the responsibility of guarding religious monuments, including the Gracanica monastery and the Decani monastery, as well as Gazimestan and several other Serbian Orthodox churches throughout Kosovo, to the Kosovo police in 2010,“ Pristina-based Gazeta Express and Zeri reported yesterday.

These media outlets added that Bishop Teodosije opposed this decision.

The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren confirmed for KoSSev that the Decani monastery remained under KFOR’s protection and recall that the last armed attack on the monastery was a hand grenade rocket attack in 2007.

In addition, they emphasized that after Islamist graffiti was drawn on the walls of the Monastery in 2014 and four Islamists, local Albanians, were arrested in 2016, KFOR reinforced the protection with more manpower and video surveillance.

Monasteries with permanent police posts include the Pec Patriarchate, Holy Archangels, Devic, Gorioc, Zociste, Budisavci, Djakovica, and the city churches in Pec, Istok, Vucitrn, South Mitrovica, Urosevac, Pristina, Podujevo and two in Prizren.

The Prizren seminary and Gazimestan also have permanent police posts. On the other hand, Gracanica and Draganac monasteries are regularly visited by police patrols, however, they have no permanent police points.

Gazeta Express also wrote that “ objects of Serbian historical heritage damaged in March 2004 were rebuilt with funds of the government which restored them because it regards them as a treasure of Kosovo and as such, they should be protected from everyone.“

The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren also denied these allegations for KoSSev.

Our Lady of Ljevis in Prizren represents the most famous example of a church damaged during the March violence of 2004, which has not been restored even today, and which is under UNESCO protection. According to the Eparchy, about a third of the church’s frescoes have not been cleaned and restored.

In addition, they emphasized that money used for the reconstruction of damaged or destroyed buildings in 2004 is actually the money of the European Union, but that reconstruction projects have been implemented through Kosovo’s institutions with EU surveillance.

The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren also recalled that about 120 monasteries, churches and other cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed between 1999 and 2004 and that there were no programs for the reconstruction of objects destroyed during this period. The objects destroyed in this period include a significant number of Category 1 monuments, such as the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin in Musutiste or the church of St. George in Resane, both built in the 14th century.

Some religious sites were also damaged after 2004.

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