In the midst of tensions over the construction of the Decane-Plav road, the mayor of Decani and the abbot of the Visoki Decani monastery conducted two separate interviews yesterday for two different Pristina media outlets. Bashkim Ramosaj gave an interview for Epoka e re; Sava Janjic for Klan Kosova. The law on the protective zone is discriminatory, the road must be built, Ramosaj reiterated once again. On the other hand, Janjic underlined that the monastery has nothing against the construction of the road, adding that the law on SPZ clearly prohibits the construction of the main road in the protective zone.
Below we published parts of the interviews in which Ramosaj and Janjic spoke in greater detail about the dispute between the municipality and the Monastery, as well as how it could be resolved.
According to the Decani mayor, the Kosovo Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti’s decision to suspend the construction on the Decane-Plav road is connected to the upcoming meeting between the Belgrade and Pristina delegations in Washington on September 2nd.
„A month ago, we started with the construction of the 5-kilometer road section, which is in the special zone of the Decane-Plav road. However, at the moment when the date of September 2nd was announced – the date of the Kosovo-Serbia meeting at the White House, the same rhetoric was restarted,“ Ramosaj said.
He urged the Prime Minister to bring quick solutions“ in order to continue the works, while also emphasizing that no reaction was made in that regard.
The Decani mayor claimed that he is „even more outraged“ over President Vucic’s call to suspend the works and an announcement that he will raise this issue and ask for a permanent suspension of works at the next meeting in Brussels.
Ramosaj also confirmed that the works on the road continued yesterday, adding that „there were no negative reactions from the Prime Minister“.
The continuation of the works depends on future consultations in the next ten days, he added.
When asked if he believes that KFOR could react and stop the construction, he replied that interventions by KFOR and the Kosovo Police are possible and expressed hope that it would not happen.
„This road is specially important for the well-being of the citizens of Decani, the economic development of this municipality because that road will create access to the greatest resources available in the municipality of Decani,“ Ramosaj underlined.
Ramosaj also presented possible solutions to the dispute between the municipality of Decani and the monastery, referring to the letter he sent to Kosovo officials. He emphasized that the top state institutions should take special care that they reach the right solution.
Furthermore, he cited the legal documents which, in his words, prevent the development of the municipality of Decani.
„These laws are unfair and discriminatory for the citizens of the municipality of Decani because 70 thousand citizens of the municipality of Decani cannot be denied their rights. According to the 2011 census, our municipality has 41,167 inhabitants and about 30,000 inhabitants living outside of it. Not giving these residents hope and motivation to live in this city is discriminatory,“ stated Ramosaj.
In yesterday’s interview for Klan Kosova, the Abbot of the monastery of Visoki Decani, Sava Janjic agreed with the allegations that the road has economic importance for this municipality, but also pointed out that the road would not present a problem if it is built outside the protective area.
„In principle, I agree that the road from Decani to Plav is of economic importance, and the Kosovo government has found a solution by starting a side road on the other side of the hill that would connect Decani with Plav in Montenegro. That road was opened by (cf. the then) Prime Minister Thaci with the mayors of Decani and Plav in September 2014,“ Janjic explained.
He claims that only half of this road was built, as only two kilometers were paved.
I do not know why this project was shelved – Janjic concluded.
Ramosaj describes the bypass as an adventure road, used by „adrenalin junkies“
„This road is not intended for the traffic of goods or people. The road is suitable for extreme sports, for adrenalin junkies. It starts with at an altitude of 600 meters, continues to 1,800 meters and then falls again 700 meters, within three kilometers.“
„Continuing the works in the protective area – it is prohibited by law. The European Union, the OSCE, the ambassadors of the Quint countries gave a clear message that this time is unacceptable. In August 2018, some ambassadors sent a clear message to Prime Minister Haradinaj and the Minister of Infrastructure that such a road has no legal basis. That is the reason why we keep repeating that they are violating Kosovo laws here,“ Janjic said.
According to Janjic, it is not up to the monastery to allow or forbid the construction, as this issue is regulated by law.
„Based on the law, highways, freeways are unacceptable and prohibited by law. But if we want a smaller local road, with a lower traffic frequency and speed, it can happen later, of course. But based on the current plan, such highways, I’m afraid, are against Kosovo law,“ Janjic added.
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