Politika’s manipulative headline: „Kurti offers Serbian churches to the Vatican“

anđela Milivojevic

By Andjela Milivojević

The article published by the Politika newspaper on Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti allegedly offering Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo to the Vatican was published without credible evidence and acts as a case of disinformation and clickbait headlines.

The accusation stemmed from an article published in the daily newspaper Politika, with the sensational headline „Kurti offers Serbian churches in Kosovo and Metohija to the Vatican“. Despite the provocative title, the article fails to provide no concrete evidence to support this claim.

The Politika article mainly relies on the statements of Aleksandar Raković, a researcher from the Institute for Recent History of Serbia.

Raković expresses concern about the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo. However, apart from his stance on the issue, Raković does not offer any evidence or official documents to support the accusation that Kurti offered to hand over Serbian churches to the Vatican or that there is an official government policy to do so.

In part of the text, Ranković mentions publications and texts from Kosovo and abroad that aim „to show that our Serbian medieval shrines were either built on the ruins of some of their Catholic medieval ones, or that some of their shrines were taken over by the Serbs.“

Neither Raković, nor Politika newspaper, provided any additional information about which publications are involved, how exactly they affect the official decision of the Kosovo government or how they are related.

What Politika also did not explain to the readers, and what Raković probably alluded to, are several cases in which the facilities of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo were presented or declared to be Catholic.

In December 2023, information was published that the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, without consulting the SOC, carried out work on the Orthodox church in the village of Gornje Vinarce near Mitrovica and that the church was presented as Catholic under the name „Catholic church in Gornje Vinarce“ and included in the list of „monuments under the protection of the Ministry of Culture in Pristina“ from 2016.

In June 2019, a similar situation occurred with the church of St. Nikola in Novo Brdo, which was incorrectly presented as a Roman Catholic church on the website of the Kosovo Ministry of Culture.

In its text, Politika did not explain these examples or try to confirm Ranković’s claims with additional research, instead, they only shared his claims without providing the context.

In one part of the text, Politika quotes Raković who says that „the Roman Catholic hierarchy has long been the mastermind in Kosovo and Metohija of all operations aimed at seizing Orthodox monasteries and churches,“ and that Muslim Albanians are just „infantry“.

Raković also did not provide any evidence or concrete cases for these allegations.

Politika also did not adhere to the journalistic code of ethics, as it failed to give the representatives of the Catholic Church in Kosovo the opportunity to share their opinion or comment on the very serious accusations presented in their article.

In the text, Politika did not specify whether they tried to obtain an official statement from the Kosovo government, which is also contrary to the Code of Journalists of Serbia.

Furthermore, no official statement or document from the Kosovo government or the Vatican was cited to support the accusation.

Politika, in its text, in addition to Raković, also quotes the former journalist and politician Ratko Dmitrović, who also makes a series of claims, closely resembling conspiracy theories, about how Rugova, Haradinaj and Thaci are Catholics, Albin Kurti is allegedly hiding his religion, which is supposed to be sufficient proof of the handing over of SOC facilities to the Vatican.

Despite the lack of evidence, several other Serbian media outlets, including Vaseljenska portal, Russia Today Serbia, Sputnik Serbia, Radio Television of Republika Srpska and Pravda newspaper, shared the news item with the same headline and content, further spreading the baseless claim.

During the day, the news quickly was also shared in popular Serbian Telegram groups such as „BUNT je stanje duha„, which counts over 85 thousand members, where dozens of them commented above all on the headline from Politics, as if Kurti had really announced that he would offer the Serbian churches to the Vatican.

In the absence of credible evidence and official statements, the claim that Albin Kurti offered Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo to the Vatican can be considered a case of disinformation or fake news.

The media and individuals should exercise caution and verify such claims before amplifying or disseminating them.

Responsible journalism requires adherence to the principles of accuracy, fairness and impartiality, especially when reporting on sensitive topics that could inflame tensions or promote discord.

Spreading unverified claims, even by reputable media, undermines public trust and contributes to the spread of misinformation.

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